Skift Take

Human capital is the main driver of the travel and hospitality industry and there needs to be a strategy to attract and train the right talent. Sometimes being greener than your competitors is the edge.

A job opening for a hotel wanting an “organic chef” or someone who can handle “procurement and environmental, social, and corporate governance,” underlines the importance of sustainability as a value proposition helping them with talent acquisition and retention.

Hotels have become smart about attracting talent, said Margaux Constantin, partner at McKinsey & Company, speaking at the Skift Global Forum East in Dubai.

Constantin added that while the opportunity for sustainability in hospitality may be less with travellers it’s much more with attracting talent.

“While travelers may state that they are willing to pay more for sustainability, there isn’t any proof that proves that. However, it is a huge critierion for employees to select an employer — almost 60 percent,” she said.

Highlighting that the challenges in hospitality are going through peaks and troughs, Ellen Dubois Du Bellay, chief human resources officer of Jumeirah, said that hospitality companies like theirs have good access to talent in the Dubai market.

“The United Arab Emirates does a very good job of assessing issues strategically and collaborating between the various sectors of travel aviation and hospitality,” she said.

Talking about the fundamentals underpinning performance of a destination, Jeff Strachan director of Dubai College of Tourism, spoke about the importance of human capital.

Strachan spoke about the need for a strategy for human capital. “The unique challenge is that when a vast majority comes in to work with no knowledge about the city, they would not be able to render customer service.”

A problem that was highlighted by Constantin as she spoke about how in the country less than 1 percent of Emiratis work in this sector. “Who can be the custodians of authenticity of the place and can transfer that to the travellers?”

However, she pointed out that this is changing and now four out of five Emiratis consider travel and hospitality an exciting proposition for job opportunities. She also said that half of Emirati youth in the age group of 17-21 are considering looking for active opportunities in travel and hospitality.

“This will have a really positive impact on the sector,” she said.

Highlighting the need to learn from other industries, Strachan talked about how online certification would help to solve the hotel industry’s labor training issue.

“We just need to take that template from other industries and work with it,” he said

Du Bellay too agreed that hotels need to work to make sure that the education mirrors the job more, “There is space in artificial intelligence and virtual reality that can make that very much compelling.”  


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Tags: asia monthly, dubai, jumeirah, mckinsey and company, middle east, sgfe2022, skift live

Photo credit: Ellen Dubois Du Bellay, chief human resources officer, Jumeirah, Jeff Strachan, of Dubai College of Tourism Margaux Constantin, partner at McKinsey & Companywith Skift Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O'Neill at Skift Global Forum East in Dubai. Skift

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