As regional tourism & hospitality projects reach completion, employment levels in the sector are showing signs of strain from a chronic shortage of trained staff, according to the co-organiser of Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC), Jonathan Worsley.
‘Staffing levels is one of the biggest challenges facing the global industry. The Middle East alone has demands for more than 1.5 million staff by 2020 and the aviation sector alone will require 200,000 additional pilots over the coming two decades.’
Accor Hospitality’s Managing Director, Christophe Landais confirmed that the hotel industry is facing serious problems in its work force: ‘The staffing challenge is one that the whole industry is feeling. The main issue is how to hold on to the high-service levels that we have achieved across the region. Inconsistencies in service quality will be detrimental for Dubai as a tourist destination.’
Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi-based Rotana Hotels currently retains more than 6,000 employees and has mapped out plans to increase its manpower some 150% by 2010.
‘In line with our expansion plans, Rotana is treating team retention and extension as a key project. We have implemented a process that aims to embrace and broaden employee development. It uses wide-spread surveys, competency programmes and has centralised recruitment,’ said Rotana’s Executive Vice President & COO, Imad Elias.
‘Equally important, we have widened our footprint and added new markets in our search for the right team members.
‘We believe that these fused initiatives are a major step towards ensuring that we remain on top of what could otherwise become a challenge.’ said Elias.
Tom Meyer, Area General Manager, InterContinental Hotels Group, Dubai Festival City also believes the global approach will be a great help in recruiting the right mix of internationally- and locally-experienced people.
‘Due to the massive growth of hotel industry in Dubai, it is getting more and more difficult to recruit talented individuals locally. However, we have great resources internationally and will draw on these to create a good balance.
‘We are continuously striving to improve our standards but in encouraging staff retention, nothing works better that taking the time to listen to what each individual employee has to say.’
More than 1,000 senior-level decision makers representing the Gulf region and international markets will gather at the upcoming AHIC 2008 to debate the on-going industry skill-shortages which are expected to challenge the burgeoning sector before it hits hard.
The session will be moderated by Peter Malone, Managing Director, Madison Mayfair and will include the following panellists: Andreas Mattmüller, Senior Vice President Middle East & Asia, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts; Keith Yates, President & CEO, Performa Global; Paul Z. Diab, Director of Operations MENA, Golden Tulip Hotel & Resorts; Ron Hilvert, Managing Director, The Emirates Academy and Sean Worker, Managing Director & SVP International Operations, Wyndham Hotel Group International.
The Arabian Hotel Investment Conference will run from May 3-5, 2008 at Dubai’s Madinat Jumeirah Convention Centre and is jointly organised by The Bench and MEED.