Long before the pandemic, the luxury industry had overlooked the critical importance of not only recruiting but most importantly nurturing, motivating and retaining talent. Over the years, luxury hospitality has even become notorious for being an industry which is not rewarding financially. With the pandemic, many hospitality employees have changed course and shifted to other industry sectors where they were instantly gratified by better pay and more flexible working conditions – most of those who left luxury hospitality are no longer returning.
More owners / developers of luxury hotel properties in both emerging and established destinations have transitioned from management (third party long term management agreements) to franchising, saving considerable costs, but impacting on the perception of stability especially among employees but also no longer implementing standards as strictly as in a property under a management agreement. Owners have thus gained more decision making ”power”, getting involved deeper into the actual operation of a property.
Owners of properties affiliated to international luxury brands or luxury independent hotels are now involved from recruitment, dining menus to marketing, PR and even branding. Owners dictate the sales and distribution strategy, directly involved in revenue management too. There is far less investment in training staff and less motivational activities for staff. The hybrid work model is out of question for most luxury hotels, even if employees in certain positions or departments could function under such a flexible scheme with reduced hours on the premises of the hotel.
Luxury hotel groups, luxury brands of large hotel groups but also independent luxury hotels have been failing to develop a relevant and consistent company culture, so that employees benefit from much more than just training but rather feel that they belong and that they have a future, not to mention that they rejoice in providing service excellence, interacting with customers closer and in more ways than in any other luxury sector. Luxury hospitality has been losing its desirability as a workplace. Luxury hotels even if of the same chain, do no longer share the same DNA.
Empowering staff, allowing staff to create and innovate, letting them have a say that truly matters – have all become empty words, without a real meaning. Embracing feedback in a most constructive way as a means to evolve and improve has also become obsolete. Exerting passion, enthusiasm and joy can only be genuine and expressed naturally, in an instinctive way. That is why more staff lacking that vibe, energy or better to say ”sparkle”.
Luxury hospitality is not about flexible hours or remote working – but rather hard work, long hours, shifts, not to mention working during festive seasons. That is why, passion and perseverance are of the essence. Long term stability but also the perspective of a career path evolution can be the answer for achieving the much needed motivation. Stability can be very complex and may not be obvious, but staff would become very much aware about any investment in product and up-keeping but also investment in marketing.
With hotels having to resort to staff from other industries, often staff of diverse nationalities and in many cases younger, recreating a welcoming multi-cultural and diverse environment is yet another challenge. Understanding different cultures and mentalities is essential for forging a team which is equally consistent and motivating. One of the solutions which has proven to generate results is integrating more senior staff in the teams. Interdependence is inherent and that is why it is important to create bonding and synergies among staff.
Post pandemic, skyrocketing inflation, the rising cost of energy – are now presenting luxury hotels with yet again the ”excuse” to cut costs as much as possible, even if this is impacting service standards and the comfort of guests, while rates have remained the same or even increased. Nowadays, renovations are being postponed further and further, some prestigious luxury hotels not having undergone renovations in 15-20 years, some not renovated since they opened. Mattresses, curtains, carpets, bathroom fixtures and essential technology such as AC – are dated and tired, impacting comfort.
Nevertheless, we should not overlook those who have seen beyond challenges and have turned some of them into opportunities. There are owners who have taken advantage of pandemic closures to conduct extensive renovations and owners who have excelled in taking care of their staff, paying their salaries in full throughout the entire pandemic. There are luxury executive hoteliers who have seen the opportunity of offering even better service and have not compromised on basics. Unfortunately, this segment is much smaller, thus true luxury becoming much more rarified.
More from ANALYSIS
Understanding the real potential of Rome as a luxury destination – 13 new luxury hotels opening! (Analysis)
Internationally, Rome is the only capital city which will see the addition of 13 luxury hotels in the next two …
Major luxury destinations around the world, including in Europe will see lower demand in 2023 (Analysis)
Post pandemic, in 2022, there was a huge desire and willingness for the wealthy to travel again - somehow making …
Russia-Ukraine war, limited direct effect on luxury goods
The Russia-Ukraine war has had a limited direct effect on luxury-goods makers with light asset-impairment write downs and little lost …