Improving the job pool

During this recent economic downturn, across many segments of the hospitality industry management training programs diminished, and there were fewer tools to help find qualified candidates. Hotels and resorts decreased the budgets for these programs in order to cut financial losses for the properties. In turn, hotels and resorts were left with a talent gap for entry- and mid-level managers.

I thought of this when I was speaking to a resort management class at the Northern Arizona University School of Hotel and Restaurant Management in Flagstaff, Arizona, where I’m invited to give a lecture each semester. It is a joy for me to engage with these future hospitality industry employees and see them interact with the instructor, himself a recent veteran of the hospitality industry.

Of course when I participate in these lectures I have ulterior motives. I want to expose the students to independent properties that may be a lesser-known segment of the industry and reignite interest in these entry-level positions. Come recruiting time at the school, it’s the major brands who have a big presence, dwarfing the independents, but giving these students the knowledge of all types of properties gives them the pros and cons and the chance to broaden their search for their future positions. They’ll know that an independent offers them the latitude to help shape decisions and directions, and a larger chain provides an opportunity to move up through the corporate ranks.

We as hospitality industry leaders need to be constantly training and bringing new management talent into our organizations. I feel we have an obligation to give these young minds an opportunity to prove themselves. At our Sedona resort, we’re now ramping up our intern and management training programs to support talented individuals. I’ve seen a lot of really good talent out there, and I know the future of our industry is bright. I encourage others in our industry to do more outreach to hotel schools, offer to guest lecture and share insights with these bright, young minds. They are hungry for it, and in turn they’ll do you a favor by re-sparking the passion and enthusiasm you had for the industry right out of college.