Great Team Strategies for Great Hotels

With the end of the pandemic and a return of some positive results, the #1 priority for companies in tourism – hotels, agencies or others – if often to retain their talented teams, in whom so much has already been invested. As always, they also need to attract and train a new generation of hoteliers. 

It is estimated that, in some countries, 20% to 25% of the tourism workforce has changed sector and is unlikely to return to the tourism industry – at least in the short to medium term.

For Millennial and Generation Z employees (aged 19 to 40), balancing their professional and personal lives is a priority, regardless of their strong ambition and desire for rapid career advancement. The company – hotel or agency – may have to reinvent itself to attract and retain these employees.

At Great Hotels of the World, we firmly believe in High Tech and High Touch. We kept close to all our members during these last months and the topic “My hotel team” kept coming up on the agenda, as the top priority. 

To be truly a Great Hotel of the World, our hotels need to be the company of choice for their teams – today and tomorrow. 

What can we do, right now, to attract and retain the best team members? 

Recognize that a lot has changed 

  • These 18 months of isolation and uncertainty have changed people’s lives. By recognizing this, hotels need to stay close to their teams, earn their trust, share their doubts, and ensure that this “back to school” phase takes place as seamlessly as possible. 
  • Recognize and reward employees who have gone above and beyond, over these 18 months – with public praise, testimonial sharing, and – yes – some exceptional bonus. 
  • Some companies have chosen to pay all employees a one-time bonus at the end of this last peak season, during which they worked very hard in the reopening phase and under very challenging conditions. 
  • Many employees have had their roles changed significantly and these need to be discussed and formalized, depending on whether the changes are temporary or permanent.

Make Hospitality an attractive career option (really!) 

  • Develop with each person a Career Roadmap with prospects for development – and salary – concrete, with realistic time horizons, but adapted to today’s fast-paced reality – 1 year between progressions.
  • We are all living short-term and the goalposts may need to shift as well; for instance, does an annual performance review still make sense?

Be as understanding and flexible with employees as you are with customers  

  1. Flexible payment of wages: aware of the budget challenges many families face right now, some hotels are already paying salaries ahead of the month. This has gone from being an occasional, very much on-demand (and somewhat shameful) situation, to an easily accessible – and much appreciated – benefit. Using technology (financial wellness apps) the process is quick, confidential, and with no approval required from immediate superiors. 
  2. Offer opportunities for occasional work in nearby hotels, complementary shifts, or shorter ones, to help personal finances. Here, some form of automation of vacancies and applications is critical. It opens up new career prospects – the work may be in a different area of work; it enhances employees’ experience and their CV, and it can solve problems at crunch times in neighboring hotels or restaurants.
  3. Flexibility in schedules  Split or continuous eight-hour shifts seemed like an inevitability in hotel life. Not anymore.  Some hotels are (finally) offering 3 or 4-hour shifts, to reinforce their response to customers at times of high demand (check-ins, check-outs, breakfast, among others). With this, the hotel becomes a very attractive workplace for other “segments” of employees – for example, college or high school students; older and more experienced former hotel employees who do not intend to return to full-time work. There may be small teams working on cleanings from 06:00 to 09:00 and others from 11:00 to 14:00 if these are the time slots that employees have available.

Increasing Benefits and Pay

Today’s employees are especially sensitive to companies that care about their mental and physical well-being. Some hotels have chosen to offer tangible benefits, even to part-time employees, such as health insurance, or job shadowing and coaching as part of their job. Others make a point of opening up career choices to members of their employees´ families – after all, they offer preferential “Family and Friends” rates to their clients, already. Still others offer partnerships with other hotels and accommodation providers, so their team members have access to preferential rates and conditions.

Others have developed incentives that translate into pay increases – for example, a room attendant who can clean more than his or her number of rooms may receive an additional amount for each room he or she cleans. 

As with many factories that work 24-hour shifts, hotels can also reward employees who work the night shifts with a significantly higher hourly rate. They may also consider increasing night shifts to 10 hours (with a higher hourly rate, of course) and offer three continuous days off per week in return. There will be employees who value being paid more per hour than during the day and being able to work elsewhere during their one or two days off.

One of the solutions adopted has been the return of monthly or even biweekly bonuses to encourage a return to the usual activity and work rhythms. 

Creating the desire to go back to (what was) normal

In September, in many countries, the time came to seek a return, albeit partial or conditioned, to the office or hotel world. More cohesive teams, easier and more exciting group work, and simply the desire to regain the joy and warmth of work – at work.

However, hotel clients – especially companies and agencies – have felt the pressure of last-minute bookings and constantly changing dates;  altered, postponed, or advanced events; very short meetings and events deadlines, among others. All these factors have brought added complexity to the lives of hotels and their employees. 

To recover the contagious joy at work and among the teams, in addition to some well-deserved salary increases, some hotels are offering their employees more days of holiday or long weekends to help them maintain a better work-life balance. Others are organizing lunches, dinners, or other informal get-togethers like picnics in the park, in the woods or on the beach, to actually be with their teams, face to face – just themselves. At the end of the day, we all feel the need to return to (what used to be) normal.

Above all, we need to remember that Great Teams are what make Great Hotels.

For more information about GREAT HOTELS OF THE WORLD and how we help upscale, independent hotels and resorts around the world please visit

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