•  Share this page
  •  About us
  •  Subscribe
  •  Jobs
  •  Advertise
  •  Contact Us

Labouring under an illusion

The success of the hospitality industry has always been entrenched in the provision of service and the continued fostering of relationships. At its core, the role of hospitality was, and still is, to hook up the different essentials of a person’s journey, as one - by providing the physiological and psychological needs of that person, namely; warmth, shelter, comfort and security. However, the industry’s ability to seamlessly connect the journey for travelers goes far beyond that.


The hospitality industry is built on service, human interaction and a desire to fulfill, if not exceed our customers' expectations. Historically, these aspirations have been achieved through people working for people, with people and through people. That means, recruiting the right people, retaining them and retraining them in the years to come. In other words: hiring people - with the right attitude, and the right knowledge, in the right place and at the right time.


 Unfortunately, in the pursuit for revenue maximization and profit optimization, hospitality’s original concept has lost focus or direction along the way. Over the years, a relentless search for ways to achieve more with fewer hand-on decks has sent a mixed signal to attracting the right employees. And this has been haunting the industry since then…aggravated further by the pandemic where a large number of hotel workers were abruptly furloughed or laid off.


Those of us, who have been around in hoteliering long enough, will remember the time when the hotel scene was flooded with a huge workforce. Then came the ‘perfect storm’ of aging baby boomers leaving the workforce, intensified by the hesitancy of the younger population to enter the industry. Those who did join, brought with them generational change and different attitudes to work.


By the same token, the customer of yesteryear is not the same today. While it all started with providing only a place for sleeping, the traditional hospitality industry has evolved to become what we see today. It’s no longer about the ‘stay’ it’s about the ‘experience’ and how the guest preference is met. With the rise of smartphones, guest expectations have changed where modern travelers expect convenience and “anytime, anywhere” service on the mobile devices.  Hence, hotels’ integrating innovative technology is simply not a choice but a present-day imperative.


Next to food, employees if not properly cared for… are the most perishable. Too many hotels spend a lot of time and effort on hiring while been aware that there is a hole in the bucket. Executives spend more time on managing people and making people decisions than on anything else. And yet, companies don’t get it right. Unable to identify and retain talent they cannot understand why it’s getting harder to find talent.


The future of work will not be determined by technology, but by creating the right mix of education, exposure, and experience needed to develop skills and put them to work, creating a vastly more productive workplace and economy. For that to happen, hoteliers must come together to address the root of resolving the industry’s labour challenges by seeking ways and means of pushing people towards hospitality positions, not away from them.


In this context, it’s worth remembering the proverb “To go fast, go alone. To go far, go together.”


Shafeek Wahab – Editor, Hospitality Sri Lanka, Consultant, Trainer, Ex-Hotelier



10 Best Places to visit in Sri Lanka - World Top 10