Staff retention critical to success of Mid East hotel industry


Employee recruitment and retention are one of the major issues facing the Middle East hotel industry with only 10% of staff expected to look for career opportunities within their current property, says a report by – one of the world’s top hospitality recruitment websites.

The report, which will be launched at Arabian Travel Market 2008, the Middle East’s premier travel and tourism event, surveyed over 3,000 hospitality professionals from across the region.

When asked what employees next career move would be, an additional 10% said they would consider a move within the hotel group they currently work for.

According to the report’s authors, this alarming attrition rate implies that retention is an area that regional hotels need to dedicate more attention to if they are to continue to operate successfully.

‘Global hotel growth is a topic that is rarely out of the news and has seen double digit growth over the last 12 months. Asian countries such as India and China are witnessing the fastest growth, followed closely by the Middle East. This growth has only accentuated the existing global skills shortage problem,’ said Peter Willis, Sales Manager,

‘The challenge is to match growth with talent so service levels are maintained. At the same time keeping that talent within the hospitality industry via training and career progression opportunities is essential.

‘Naturally the working environment and salaries are key hooks to attract new talent to the region. Hotels must look at what they offer candidates in terms of salary, benefits, and accommodation in an increasingly competitive landscape.’

According to the report, 61% of employees surveyed said they would be looking to stay in the Middle East – a shot-in-the-arm for the regional industry given the increasing demand for hotel staff from the emerging markets of Asia and India.

However, Willis says that hotel groups in the region need to go some way to addressing this outbound flow, and need to target staff in new markets.

‘Historically the Middle East has relied on a highly dependable Asian source of candidates. With the growth of these emerging markets, especially in India, we are now seeing the flow of candidates change direction. Indian hotel professionals are now returning home as the strong Rupee and better living conditions can outweigh what they are being offered in the Middle East,’ said Willis.

‘The resource pool obviously needs to be extended and some HR teams are actively targeting new areas such as South America and Africa.’

‘Hotel groups are also changing their views on the criteria expected of candidates,’ adds Willis.

‘Hotels are now starting to look outside the hospitality industry for personalities who have enthusiasm, because the right people can be taught the key skills within a new industry,’ he said.

Willis is the latest addition to an impressive seminar speaker line-up for Reed Travel Exhibitions’ Arabian Travel Market 2008, which takes place at the Dubai International Exhibition and Convention Centre (DIECC) on May 6-9.

During the seminar – Recruitment and Retention Strategies in the Middle East Hotel Industry, which takes place on Wednesday 7th May – Willis will join a panel of industry HR experts to explore some of the recruitment challenges faced by Middle East hoteliers and examine some of the strategies and approaches that can be used to overcome these issues.

Covering a diverse range of key industry trends and issues, Arabian Travel Market 2008’s seminar programme is the largest to date with 15 sessions planned over the four day event.

Attracting many of the industry’s heavyweights, the seminars, which will be staged on the show floor for the first time in a dedicated theatre, will cover critical human resource issues in the region, ground-breaking medical tourism initiatives, the future of travel agents and the development of online travel bookings, and the role of the internet and new web marketing techniques as the industry evolves.

‘From feedback gathered throughout the year from all sectors of the industry, we have developed a conclusive seminar programme addressing major trends and issues facing us all in this dynamic sector,’ said Simon Press, Exhibition Director, Arabian Travel Market.

‘We recognise the need for exhibitors and visitors to stay ahead of the game in such a quickly evolving business sector. By providing a platform for discussion, we hope to offer workable solutions to the industry that will be critical to its continuing success.’

Arabian Travel Market is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, and under the auspices of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, Government of Dubai.