At Hireology, we want to help people hire better talent — that’s it. No matter what industry your business is in, we want to empower you to build your best team possible.
In order to help you hire better, we’re excited to announce our Vertical Vantage series. This blog series is only possible due to the participation of our partners, who we’ll be interviewing for their industry-specific insights on hiring. These featured individuals have ample experience in their respective fields, allowing them to give us a vantage view of the tactics they’ve seen find successful in hiring.
For this inaugural blog post, we’re honored to feature Deborah Burns, Executive Director of New England Inns & Resorts Association (NEIRA). As a hospitality professional, she is well aware of the nuances surrounding the current labor shortage in this industry and leads a wonderful discussion on how hotels are navigating this period of time.
Please give us a quick introduction to yourself and your organization.
Hi, I’m Deborah Burns, Executive Director of New England Inns & Resorts Association (NEIRA). NEIRA is a collection of more than 300 independently owned and operated lodging properties throughout the six New England States. After more than 100 years connecting travelers with the region’s best inns, resorts, and hotels, NEIRA continues to earn its reputation as one of the most respected, influential hospitality organizations in New England.
Overall, we support three key pillars for members: marketing, education, and networking. This association was founded by New England hoteliers, for New England hoteliers. And our mission has remained pure to that audience – no matter the property’s lodging size – ever since.
What makes hiring in hospitality so unique from other industries today?
A hospitality professional is required to wear many hats throughout the day. I’ve walked through many properties with a General Manager and watched them stop to reposition a skewed curtain or pick up a stray straw on the floor. It is hard work and requires a willingness to work together towards one goal: providing the guest with the best experience possible every single day. Our members know that providing the guest with the best experience requires a supported, energized and engaged team of employees all working together. Recruiting and hiring the best employees in hospitality and retaining employees by providing them with a path for advancement are vital to their success.
What are the biggest challenges hotels are facing today when it comes to recruiting and hiring?
The seasonal nature of hospitality can be a challenge in New England, particularly for more rural properties. Many lodging properties rely on international workers, and this also remains a challenge and often is difficult to predict year after year. The number of students entering hospitality programs has decreased for several years, which is certainly a concern. This has been one of the missions of NEIRA’s Educational Foundation. Through the foundation, NEIRA has awarded over $60,000 in hospitality scholarships to support students pursuing a career in hospitality. Additionally, students studying other business concentrations such as marketing, accounting, communications, business administrations, etc., should be encouraged to pursue a career in hospitality with the belief they can have a rewarding, lucrative career in this industry.
What advice do you have for hotels to overcome the above-mentioned challenges?
Hire well, support, and train new employees with a positive onboarding experience and work hard to retain your high-performing employees. We also advise our member lodging properties to pay the same attention to their recruiting and hiring efforts as they do to their guest acquisition efforts. One of our initiatives is to share the stories of employees that are making a difference at our member properties to outline their path to success. We hope this will motivate others to share the exceptional culture that exists at many of our member properties.
What are the biggest factors you’re seeing drive turnover in the hospitality space today?
In response to the pandemic, our members were short staffed and had difficulty hiring and training new employees. Conversely, there was a pent-up demand for guests who wanted to visit and experience our properties. While occupancy and demand were high, staff levels were still low. Our members quickly had to adjust some of their hiring and training practices, along with being realistic about the offerings they could provide guests. Remote work has also factored into turnover in the hospitality space as many other industries can and continue to offer remote work.
How do you predict technology will influence recruiting and retention in the hospitality space?
Hireology’s CEO and Founder Adam Robinson spoke at the NEIRA conference in 2021 and told our members they needed to communicate with candidates very quickly using technology — particularly text. That was eye opening for me! The way we recruit and evaluate candidates must be very quick and efficient and you can’t do that without technology. I see technology helping us evaluate candidates, place candidates in the correct open positions, and streamline the process of recruiting, hiring, and training new employees.
“One of our initiatives is to share the stories of employees that are making a difference at our member properties to outline their path to success. We hope this will motivate others to share the exceptional culture that exists at many of our member properties.”
As you can see, Deborah’s insight on the hiring situation in the hospitality industry has both breadth and depth — and mirrors what we’re seeing across the board. Hiring may be uncertain during these times, but one thing is for sure: in order to succeed, businesses in all industries need to move quickly to add the best talent to their teams.
To learn how Hireology can help you source the talent you need, connect with our team today!