How important is experience?

A recent Ricci Rants blog by Susan Ricci on chastising North American hotel companies for hiring less-experienced candidates to save on labor costs resonated with HOTELS readers.

Susan Ricci is the principal of S. Ricci & Co. Hospitality Consultants, New York City, and based her observation on her consulting experience with hotels and developers in New York City.

As the blog post’s comments indicate, many readers agreed with Ricci’s assertion, and the large response prompted coverage in the June print issue of HOTELS.

However, some hotel staff recruiters point out that the level of experience remains only one factor in hiring decisions.

Keith Kefgen, CEO, HVS Executive Search, Mineola, New York, said that the quality of experience is more important than simply the number of years in the business.

“An employer must look for a track record of accomplishment,” Kefgen said. “The unfortunate reality is that experience does not necessarily mean significant and measurable accomplishments. Employers must evaluate experience in the context of what they are looking for and what measurable results they are trying to achieve. It always comes down to price and value. Everyone — including hotel companies — has to balance cost with results and make those tough calls.”

Benoit Gateau-Cumin, chief recruiting officer at The Boutique Search Firm, Beverly Hills, California, said that when hotel departments are being outsourced, a more experienced general manager is not needed.

“I only partially agree with Susan … when food and beverage is farmed out and the spa has an outside operator, and social media is used to sell a major percentage of the rooms inventory, the level of expertise of the general manager does not have to match that of the person in charge of a 700-room, 5-star property with three restaurants, a nightclub, a large in-house spa, 60,000 sq ft (5,574 sq m) of meeting space and 24-hour room service,” Gateau-Cumin said.