At last month’s Hotel Industry Conference, industry leaders
from across New Zealand and Asia Pacific discussed a wide range of
topics, from changing attitudes towards sustainability to the
radical transformation of Asia’s tourism market. But one issue
which consistently cropped up throughout the two-day event was the
challenges facing the hotel industry when it comes to

According to Leanne Harwood, managing director of Australasia
and Japan for InterContinental Hotels Group, hotels are facing a
crisis when it comes to finding fresh faces to represent the brand.
“Talent is a fundamental issue in Australia-New Zealand. The
hospitality industry just isn’t attractive to young people,”
said Harwood.

Leanne Harwood

Historically, the hotel industry has been renowned as an
industry in which a 16-year-old pot-washer can realistically hope
to one day be general manager, if he or she has the right skills
and attitude. Employers have sought out un- or under-qualified
individuals who are otherwise hardworking, aspirational, and
looking for a ‘foot in the door’.

Yet, as the millennial generation comes of age, it’s becoming
increasingly clear that, by and large, they are not seeking the
stability their parents sought until much later in life. Bruce
Sheppard, managing partner of Gilligan Sheppard, gave some clues as
to why that might be the case. “Millennials, in particular, are
incredibly flexible,” said Sheppard. “I have accountants that
do modelling, or DJ at nightclubs – just because they can. They
think differently.”

Bruce Sheppard

This ‘gig economy’ is worlds away from the traditional
loyalty-based employment structures in the hotel industry. Very few
millennials are seeking a company with whom they can expect to
spend the next two, three, or five decades of their life. Until
recruiters acknowledge this, they are likely to continue to
struggle. “Shared values are the basis of culture,” Sheppard
explained to the HIC crowd. “You have to run your business to
deliver what your employees aspire to achieve.”

So what do young people aspire to achieve today? According to
Deloitte’s 2019 Global Millennial Survey based on the views of
13,416 millennials across 42 countries, millennials are no less
ambitious than their predecessors: more than half want to earn high
salaries and be wealthy.

However, Big Business – historically seen as the route to
those high salaries – is a turn-off for many modern
20-somethings. “Millennials’ opinions about business continue
to diminish, in part due to views that businesses focus solely on
their own agendas rather than considering the consequences for
society,” according to the study. But it doesn’t have to be
this way.

Millennials are more skeptical of businesses.

When asked, only 55 percent of millennials believed that
business has a positive impact on society, down from 61 percent in
2018. In order to convince young people to join the hotel industry,
hotels are going to have to work hard to change their minds about
what the industry is for.

Large global chains like InterContinental Hotels Group and Accor
have already figured out that diversification is key,
distinguishing their boutique offerings from their more
corporately-minded groups to cater seamlessly to different markets.
But they might do well to capitalise upon the changing values of
young people, in order to attract fresh talent to the industry.

Rather than seeing property or vehicle ownership as hallmarks of
a life well-led, millennials are far more concerned with
experiences. “Travelling and seeing the world was at the top of
millennials’ list of aspirations (57 percent), while slightly few
than half said they wanted to own a home (49 percent).”

Travel is key to millennials’ ambitions.

With this in mind, the hotel industry already has everything it
needs to attract young people searching for employment. It’s an
industry built on travel, and one which can provide its employees
with plenty of opportunities to see the world with relative

A giant global chain like IHG, which to young people might look
like a blank corporate giant, could be rebranded as a gateway to
the world, with entry-level positions made much more enticing by
the inclusion of travel perks.

Work six months in Fiji, then transfer to Thailand, Mexico, or
Myanmar; for many, it might sound like an unstable and stressful
employment schedule. But for business-minded young people seeking
to develop their careers whilst still getting their fair share of
adventure, it could be the perfect job advert. Just make sure you
mention the complimentary use of the pool.

Source: FS – All-Hotels-Blogs