Hong Kong's tourism hit a record high in 2007 with more than 28 million visitor arrivals, an 11.6 per cent rise from the previous year. This directly benefited the hotel industry and, with competition intensifying, hotels are eagerly welcoming new recruits with the right skill sets.
The Excelsior Hong Kong is one such hotel in search of the right candidates. As a member of the leading international Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, with a presence in more than 23 countries, the hotel's employees enjoy immense advantages.
To support the various human resources functions in recruitment, training as well as employee development, the Excelsior identifies a comprehensive list of competences in accordance with different career levels within the hotel. By aligning skill sets across the many properties within the region, the Excelsior Hong Kong is in fact developing talent for the entire group. "Given our international presence, career opportunities are boundless," says Doris Ip, director of human resources, The Excelsior Hong Kong.
New joiners at the Excelsior undergo three months' on-the-job training. "We appreciate the effort and quality of Hong Kong's education institutes and we are satisfied with the performance of their graduates, who emerge with the basic know-how of hotel operations although they are newcomers to the industry," says Ms Ip. "However, since being a hotelier is a long-term career, there is much more to learn on the job."
The Excelsior offers an array of vertical and horizontal career opportunities and the hotel has a policy of supporting in-house promotions, Ms Ip remarks. She notes, "Adhering to our promotion from within policy, existing staff are given the priority whenever there are vacancies. As such, we are always looking for talents to fill entry positions." This serves as a valuable motivational factor for employees. The hotel also has a unique culture. "It is our belief that the success of the hotel lies in our colleagues, and with the right training and motivation, they are best able to create a fulfilling work experience, and simultaneously deliver quality service to our guests," she adds.
Meeting guest expectations is crucial to success in the hotel industry, Ms Ip points out. "As hoteliers, we want to deliver a pleasant experience to guests," she says. The hotel's LQE (legendary quality experience) training service focuses on teaching employees to concentrate on guest satisfaction by taking care of guests' personal needs. The aim is to make guests feel happy and nurtured throughout their stay.
When it comes to staff development, the same philosophy applies. The Excelsior offers its employees a systematic career progression path. "We are a seasoned hotelier and we thoroughly understand the skills required for each level. When we consider staff promotions, we focus more on competencies than on academic qualifications. At the same time, we encourage lifelong learning and qualification upgrades, as we believe ongoing studies broaden horizons, which in turn enable colleagues to perform even better," says Ms Ip.
The hotel group also offers employees a customised MBA programme in collaboration with RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. "High-potential colleagues are nominated to enrol in the programme, with the fees fully subsidised by the group. They gain all-round forefront management knowledge through the programme, enabling them to contribute more to the group," Ms Ip explains.
Focus on growth
Candidates interested in pursuing a successful career at the Excelsior must be committed to guest satisfaction. "Our mission is to completely delight and satisfy our guests," Ms Ip emphasises. As the hotel strongly believes in facilitating employees' personal and professional growth, they must be willing to travel and take advantage of secondment opportunities. As an employer, the hotel looks for prospective staff with excellent communication, interpersonal and leadership skills.
The Excelsior encourages employee participation in the continuous improvement of operations and policy formulation. Therefore, both managerial and operational employees take part in brainstorming sessions. Problem-solving teams are made up of staff members on different levels and employees are encouraged to comment on different issues via an "active suggestions box".
"We want our colleagues to participate in the success of the hotel. Together we can look forward to a promising future," says Ms Ip. "At the Excelsior, we recognise and celebrate the success of employees. This is perhaps why our turnover rate has remained below the market average," she concludes.