FIERCE competition for hotel workers is forcing leading brands to be more proactive in their approach to attracting and retaining staff, Kathy Smith, the human resources vice-president of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, told Gulf Times.
A report released last year by think-tank Global Futures and Foresight found that more than 800 new hotels would come online by 2020 in the Middle East at a cost of $3.39tn, adding 750,000 rooms across the region and requiring 2.5mn additional staff.
“With the growth, not only in the Middle East, but around the world, it is a challenge. If you look at the long-term planning of our company, it is one of the key areas – how we continue to find talent and develop talent for the future,” Smith said in an interview at Sharq Village & Spa, which is managed by Ritz-Carlton.
“Internationally we are focusing on what we need and being creative about how we source that talent. Last year we hired over 12,000. It sounds like a large number but one of the greatest things we have going for us is the brand.
“When we opened a hotel in China where we had 400 slots, we had over 13,000 applicants so the positive part for us is the name recognition.
“We have to keep going out to different places and widening our search.”
Smith, who said that Sharq Village hires staff from 37 countries and its sister hotel in Doha is represented by 43 nationalities, singled out the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Indonesia as target countries in southeast Asia for recruitment.
Despite inflationary pressures affecting all businesses in Qatar, Ritz-Carlton is not compromising its recruitment standards.
“We continue to focus on employee engagement. Inflation is driving up our labour costs ... when you look at our wages. And we have made significant salary increases in Qatar and continue to give housing that is appropriate.”
Ritz-Carlton has three buildings that are less than three years’ old dedicated to staff in Doha.
“The reality is that rents are going up but we are not going to lower our standards, so it is a cost of doing business,” Smith said.
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