Rescuing the Hotel Industry by Revamping the Recruitment Marketing Strategies

The hotel industry has been suffering the most from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 among all sectors. Indeed, hotels across the globe have been severely hit and are still facing the adversity of the disastrous consequences of the pandemic. From the latest March 2020, lives of millions of Americans have been affected as a tremendous number of hospitality workers have been forced to be out of work as hotels were running out of business.

Recently, the hotel industry in South Florida has started to recover experiencing a drastic rebound in occupancy which gives hope for a promising future. An article called “Hotels in Miami and South Florida are open — and busy” from TravelWeekly mentions the words of hotel experts about the recent trends regarding the current situation of the industry. Indeed, a strong demand has been reported for hotels in the greater Miami Market especially for the beach-front properties being around 80 to 90 percent occupied according to the President of the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association, Wendy Kallergis. The Director of Sales and Marketing from Acqualina Resort and Spa in Sunny Isles Beach, Mauro Pinho, also claimed that the demand was so strong for the property at some point that they could not accommodate all requests.

The industry is facing a real scarcity of workers that has proved to be a real challenge for hospitality operators. According to an article published by the Hospitality Event Consulting Organization, Northstar Meetings Group, there is one million job openings in the hospitality industry that companies struggle to fill.

According to a research conducted by Peter Ricci, Director of the Hospitality and Tourism Management Program at Florida Atlantic University, the industry is experiencing a severe labor shortage. 4000 respondents participated in his investigation. Being uncertain about their future within the industry, one-third of them mentioned they would be looking for jobs outside the industry in the year ahead. This is a serious concern according to the graduate hospitality educator.

Feeling insecure about the new industry’s environment post-pandemic, a lot of people would rather take advantage of the unemployment benefits according to several industry experts which is currently estimated to be $575 per week at this time. In an article from New York Times explaining why companies are struggling to recruit while unemployment is still high, Tom Taylor who is the owner of the pub Sammy Malone, in New York City states “The government is making it easy for people to stay home and get paid. You can’t really blame them much. But it means we have hours to fill and no one who wants to work.”

Hospitality and Marketing leaders were interviewed to share about what they think of the current industry situation. This article will share insights from industry experts about efficient marketing strategies especially in the world of digital for reaching the best applicants and enticing them in joining hotel organizations during these unprecedented times.

Marlies Linares who is the Director of Sales and Marketing at InterContinental Miami states: “hotels could be doing so much better but because it is so difficult to find people to work, we have to cap our occupancy”.

The Director of Human Resources at Mandarin Oriental Miami, Isabel Porzecanski mentions that the situation is alarming and also unexpected as the company is having a hard time finding people willing to work from South Florida. The hotel currently has 45 job openings and a very few applicants to which very high hourly rates are offered even for the lowest job positions. They have no choice but trying to hire candidates from other countries and investing for work VISAs. She claims that they are so short in staff that all the hotel leaders including the General Manager have to clean the rooms and do the tasks of the entry-level workers to ensure the functioning of the property. According to her, at this time, it very hard for the hotel to run the operations and almost impossible to keep the standards.

In order to rebound from the ravaging impacts the pandemic had on the hotel industry, leaders have to focus their efforts on attracting passionate and dedicated hospitality workers who are qualified to generate business. It is essential for hospitality leaders to rethink about effective strategies to attract talents skilled in exceeding guest’s expectations and leaving customers with long-lasting memories from delivering unique experience. As the industry is on the right track for recovery, it is important to recruit competent workers who are able to increase customer’s retention and ensure long-term profitability. One of the main keys to success for any hotel corporation is to be able to regain trust from the most qualified individuals who have the skills to bounce back the business.

Here is what experts say:

 

Glenn Sampert, General Manager at InterContinental Miami

Highlights the importance of reaching a wider audience as well as creating ads targeting prospective hires through social media and traditional media while promoting holistic work experience:

“Recruitment has always been a critical strategy for our organization; however, the pandemic has created new challenges for the hospitality industry and InterContinental Miami. Reaching a large audience for both hourly colleagues and management positions helps us increase our chances of successfully recruiting top talent. Posting open positions on a hotel web landing page and other online sources such as Indeed, Hcareers, etc, is a basic need; however, getting the attention of a wider audience who are not necessarily looking actively for positions is also required.  We are using ads on Social Media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook to target people while they are using their phone or tablet. Gaming apps also have advertising opportunities that we are exploring. Even in the digital age, we can use traditional media such as local radio stations to target listeners who listen to programming in their native language of Spanish and Creole. Lastly, the message is equally important. We need to communicate what the holistic work experience will be at our hotel in addition to the basics of pay and benefits. People want to work with organizations that share their values as much as provide for their financial needs”.

Gina Genna- Director of Marketing at InterContinental Miami

Suggests to use social media platforms that have many active fans who could be great potential hires:

Your hotel social media channels house your biggest fans. They are engaged in all aspect on your brand and property along with happenings. I like to create and share a branded message about how our fans could potentially become part of our One Great Team!

Flavia Antonescu – Digital Marketing Manager at DotcomWeavers

Notes the importance of implementing digital marketing strategies through the most use of social media platforms and rethink the targeting techniques to reach potential applicants while promoting enhanced benefits the industry has put into place for its workers:

“The devastating effects of the pandemic are still happening as we speak. Restaurants and hotels that managed to keep their doors open are now facing another challenge – personnel shortage. It is now the time to care less about one’s past experience and focus more resources on training out of the industry employees. Restaurant and hotel businesses should also change their targeting strategy. Posting a hiring sign on the front door is not effective anymore. Maybe employers should start using digital advertising to reach workers from other industries and enhance their onboarding benefits to influence consideration. Social media ads targeting younger groups from other industries while highlighting the benefits of working in the hospitality area might be a great start. We are using social media to get ahead of competitors, and even if we like it or not, we are now competing for attracting competent workers, therefore, a new approach may be necessary.”

Lin Humphrey, Cruise Industry Expert and Graduate Marketing Professor at Florida International University

Supports the creation of targeted marketing campaigns through LinkedIn platform and the promotion of digital job boards:

“Hospitality has a unique challenge in recovering from the COVID-related shutdowns. As some past hospitality worker may have exited the market since jobs weren’t available, intelligent targeting using tools like LinkedIn and the digital job boards will be critical. Beyond that, paying a fair wage will be more important than ever to lure professionals back to the industry.”

Stephanie Hernandez, Digital Project Manager at Florida Power and Light Company

Suggests advertising the rewarding benefits and skills employees could gain from being part of the hospitality industry as well as creating Google Ads and implementing effective SEO techniques:

“The digital marketing strategy I believe would be most effective in hiring outstanding recruits would be to showcase the value of working in the hospitality industry. Sharing a message to these recruits about how they will be able to exercise and refine their skills is an enticing benefit to working in the hospitality industry and the corners opportunities to grow in their career. Advertising the benefits, a reddit could receive by working in this field, I believe, should be the main focus in the digital marketing strategy. Not only share how the industry needs help but how the industry can help them. I recommend advertising to the potential recruits with Google Ads and focus on SEO to make sure talents who are looking for a rewarding career see the ads. Hospitality Marketing leaders should look up the best keywords using online keyword tools. Indeed, they should focus on keywords that align with the need of the company and what recruits are searching for to have the best chance of positive results with the ad”.

Anthony Miyazaki, Executive Director of Marketing and Analytics and Graduate Educator at Florida International University

Recommends strengthening hospitality companies’ reputation through social media to generate positive word of mouth:

“Because the stories of pandemic shutdowns in the travel and tourism industry were so prevalent, it will take a significant focused effort by industry organizations and the largest corporate players to combat concerns that careers in this area may be uncertain. Mere ads and public relations announcements, however, will be unlikely to sway the nervous opinions of potential employees, particularly at a time when the industry is still struggling to return to pre-pandemic levels. Fortunately, in today’s digital world, information communicated seemingly via word-of-mouth on social media platforms often is perceived as more credible than communications originating directly from organizations. Thus, the answer for the industry is to show its strength via social media communications from its employees, guests, suppliers, and other constituents so that prospective employees will regain their confidence in the future of industry opportunities.”

The industry’s experts testify of the current reality of the industry experiencing the challenges of a labor shortage. They all call attention on the importance of use of digital marketing strategies to attract hospitality workers during these times. Inspired from the expert’s opinions through this article, here are some recommendations about marketing strategies the hotel industry should implement during this particular time:

Strengthening the Social Media Platforms:

Image retrieved from: https://www.irishtimes.com/business/technology/what-does-it-take-to-get-banned-from-social-media-more-than-you-d-think-1.3959187

When used effectively, social media platforms can be powerful tools to reach a large audience. In order for hospitality companies to recruit the right people who can contribute to the business’ success, it is crucial to work on creating targeted campaigns. LinkedIn is one of the most influential platforms to attract potential candidates nowadays. LinkedIn offers several campaign options when it comes to job ads that help increase companies brand awareness among the best candidates. Targeted job ads in this platform can be very successful as it allows to advertise the job openings to individuals with the desired qualifications.

As many past hospitality employees are not convinced of joining the industry again, hotels must also take advantage of this time to reinforce the brand’s reputation through social media by promoting an attractive work environment and company’s culture. Indeed, a lot of prospect talents are anxious about working for the hotel industry, and a way to release the nervousness of these potential recruits is showcasing holistic work experience. To draw potential recruits’ attention, organizations should consider showing the image of a workplace that value its employees. Publications must be focused on showing pride for its workers and the unique employee’s journey provided to them.

At this particular time, it is also crucial to be active on social media and keep people engaged in these platforms. Ensuring thoughtful interactions through social media posts is also important to create a positive impression and strong connections with potential employees. Albert Andrew Valera, former Director of Sales at Faena Hotel and currently social media content expert states on a LinkedIn publication “Don’t underestimate the power of social media and the power of relationships” as he concluded a $5,000 booking from Instagram within an hour of receiving 2 requests. Prospect hires can also be motivated to take action if exposed to engaging social media pages.

Promoting Signing Bonus:

Image retrieved from: https://www.payrollpartners.com/different-kinds-of-bonuses-and-their-effect-on-overtime/

Furthermore, as many potential recruits are concerned about their financial needs and are satisfied with the unemployment benefits at this time, hotels should appeal these people by showing them they could get higher financial rewards by joining their team. A lot of hotel companies have been promoting signing bonus similar than unemployment compensation in addition to enhanced onboarding benefits. For instance, the Director of Operations at the Setai Hotel in Miami Beach, Li-Chyun Yang is motivating people to join the property with the promotion of the offer from the hotel of a stimulus check through a post promoting the job listings in LinkedIn.

Partnering with Hospitality Schools:

Image Retrieved from: https://calendar.fiu.edu/event/hospitality_virtual_career_fair#.YLj0QC2z10s

Cooperating with hospitality schools around the US can be effective to reach a significant number of potential candidates. Indeed, those universities have a large network of students willing to join the industry. For instance, FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management in Miami regularly sends emails to its wide student’s database about job opportunities and is often promoting those on its social media platforms. Any hospitality company should consider sending updates of the job listings to these schools as it could help attract new recruits. In addition, hospitality schools have organized several virtual career fairs in which employers could connect with employees. Hotel leaders should definitely be on top of those career events as it can be helpful to hire skilled and educated employees in their organization.

Using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Techniques:

Image retrieved from: https://netlz.com/search-engine-optimization-seo/

An essential digital marketing strategy nowadays is to use Search Engine Optimization to increase your company’s visibility online. In fact, the key to reaching the best possible applicants is to identify what are those prospects hires searching online. Thanks to SEO best practices, you can determine people’s interests through the phrases and keywords they are searching when looking for jobs in the industry. This process allows to make your page and ads easily found in the online search results by showing on top of the page to top applicants. This enables to increase site traffic in which job opportunities and benefits are promoted. Here is an overview of this marketing strategy and tips to ensure its best techniques.

Creating Google Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ads:

Image retrieved from: http://cre8tivenerd.com/2018/08/landing-pages-pay-per-click-google-ads/

Moreover, hotels should make sure to have up-to-date digital job boards and should consider creating Google Ads promoting it. Here is a guide about how to advertise online job boards through Google AdWords to increase the landing page traffic and conversions according to the organization SmartJobBoard specialized in the creation of digital job boards. Google pay-per-click ad campaigns can be very powerful as it can precisely target the most relevant users. These ads appear on the search results page (SERPs) based on an auction determined by the amount of money you are willing to bid for each click compared to your competitors in addition to advertising quality and keywords relevance. At this particular time in which marketing budgets are very limited, hospitality companies should definitely consider PPC campaigns as it is one of the most cost-effective strategies as you are only paying if potential recruits click on your ad. SEMRUSH Academy offers courses guiding on the creation of effective PPC campaigns helping drive significant revenues.

Exploring Mobile Gaming Apps Advertising Opportunities:

Image retrieved from: https://gameanalytics.com/blog/popular-mobile-game-ad-formats/

Glenn Sampert suggests exploring the option of advertising through Mobile Gaming apps which could be very effective to reach a large audience potentially interested in joining the industry. Indeed, it is a billion-dollar industry that is booming. Statistics from App Annie that is a platform specialized in mobile market data analytics show that there are huge opportunities from these apps. According to this organization, 80 billion game app downloads on mobile were recorded with players spending 4.2 hours per day playing games in 2020. Mobile ad spends through these apps reached $240 billion dollars in the same year. These statistics clearly show that advertising through mobile gaming apps should be further investigated by hospitality companies that may not have yet considered these promotional tools.

Ensuring High Quality Website Content:

Image retrieved from: https://blog.marketmuse.com/what-is-high-quality-content-and-why-is-it-so-important-for-your-business/

Before considering SEO and PPC strategies, it is critical to make sure to have high quality content in your website in which your prospective applicants will be directed. It is important to make sure your website include appealing details about the company, its values, culture as well as compelling information about job opportunities enticing people to join the organization.

Revisiting the Targeting Strategy:

Image retrieved from: https://keymediasolutions.com/news/what-is-audience-targeting/

Besides, there is a huge potential in reaching a wider audience not necessarily having experience in the hotel industry but also from other sectors. According to industry experts, hospitality corporations should consider targeting people from a younger generation and other industries that may find a passion for serving. Considering this, hotel organizations should promote the unique skills especially in customer service these people could acquire by working in the industry that are essential for professional success in any sector nowadays.

Many recruiting marketing opportunities exist for the hospitality industry during these though times in which hotels are struggling to find qualified individuals. The foundation of successful digital marketing strategies is to make the most of social media platforms as they are highly influential tools for promoting job opportunities and companies’ culture. Online advertising targeting potential hires is critical to increase candidate’s reach and conversion.

Nevertheless, according to Peter Ricci in his article mentioned previously, “The industry needs more than just a PR campaign. It needs a full overhaul in its staffing levels, pay rates and employee treatment.” Potential recruits are hoping that the industry changed for the better as the hotel leaders had the time to rethink of the employee’s work conditions during the pandemic. Hotel leaders around the world definitely had the chance to return to their roots which inspired them to improve the work environment for its labor force and emerge from these challenges stronger than ever. Indeed, the industry is lucky to have accomplished individuals who have been real heros trying to ensure business operations experiencing unusual situations and designing recovery plans during these uncertain times. It is now time for all these talents to realize that they are able to rescue the industry to which they should regain trust as the pandemic was very positive in terms of work benefit’s enhancement. The industry has bright leaders striving with passion and ready to demonstrate their dedication in improving lives of their workers with the lessons learned from these unprecedented times!