In this third part of a five-part series, Susan Reynard chats to management and staff at Hilton Sandton to find answers to the burning question: What brings guests back?
Human resources and training departments take care of the mechanics of a hotel – staff. And as every hotelier knows, your reputation as a business and a brand is in the hands of your staff. Ensuring that the right staff are selected, trained and retained throughout their careers is an ongoing challenge.
Staff are at the core of a hotel’s business. The rest is just bricks and mortar, fixtures and fittings. The spirit and experience of a hotel is transferred onto guests by its staff, across the entire property.
At Hilton, staff are referred to as “team members” or “internal guests”. This places emphasis on their essential contribution to the success of the business.
Kosi Reddy is HR manager and says the hospitality mantra of hiring for attitude and training for skill remains true. The teams are as diverse as the tasks required of them across the property. As part of an international group catering to local and international travellers, employees form a multi-cultural team.
A successful practice in this hotel is teaming up graduates with experienced staff. This results in enthusiasm and energy from one side exchanged for skills and experience from the other.
Reddy says the idea is to “catch staff doing something right”, so that all employees share in a sense of ownership and vision of a successful property.
Candice Meyer is training officer and says ongoing training is at the heart of their staff management philosophy. On the job skills training is done in a fun and interactive way, and is supported by the extensive e-learning opportunities available at Hilton as well as in-house formal training sessions.
Kate Murphy, based at Hilton Durban, is learning and development manager for Africa and Indian Ocean region, from Cameroon to Seychelles. She says that the “Hilton University” as it is referred to is available to all team members via intranet access. It ensures that the international standards of this huge group are grasped and delivered on consistently in every property around the world.
“E-learning has been offered by the group for a number of years, to make learning more readily available across the world to our team members. It is costly to travel to a residential course, so instead we took learning to all hotels,” she explains.
View the other videos in this series:
VIDEO: A day in the life of… reception and front desk staff
VIDEO: A day in the life of… housekeeping and maintenance staff