Five-star hotel seeks five-star recruits

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 November, 2008, 12:00am

When Langham Place hotel opened in Mong Kok in 2004, it hired about 450 staff. However, rapid business expansion has seen that number increase to nearly 600 and its recruitment door is still wide open for more talent.

The five-star hotel's major revenue comes from food and beverage services, room service and spa treatment. These departments are most in need of extra staff. In the spa services section, the hotel faces the perennial problem of finding suitable therapists and experienced people.

Langham Place has been receiving a growing number of bookings for MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions), catering, banquets and weddings. To further boost its business, more sales managers in catering are in demand. The hotel is also looking for experienced food and beverage candidates with management skills. More frontline attendants are needed to serve customers.

To cope with the increasing number of business and leisure travellers, the hotel's room service department needs additional housekeepers, front officers and guest service agents.

Apart from technical skills such as being able to operate computers to process check-in procedures, room service staff are given people skills training. For example, they learn to be agile in dealing with work problems. They are taught to handle guests' complaints without seeking advice from their superiors. For each complaint, employees are given a maximum of HK$1,000 in case compensation is needed.

'The system cuts down a lot of waiting time and saves the bureaucracy of referring a case to various departments,' said Eva Lo, director of knowledge management at Langham Place.

'While the complainants will be happy, our staff can also learn to make quick and wise decisions and become more confident in themselves.'

The hotel uses games during recruitment to test candidates' soft skills, social skills and personalities. Traditional face-to-face question-and-answer sessions during interviews are not used. Instead, small group activities are arranged to examine applicants' responses and how they interact with other participants. Through this approach, Ms Lo believes management can recruit the right people with the mindset to build a strong and energetic brand for the budding hotel.

Apart from candidates with direct experience, people with related work skills and interested in establishing a career in the hotel industry are also welcome to apply.

'If someone has never worked for a hotel but is good at cooking and wants to share his unique culinary skills and creative recipes with food lovers, he can join our food and beverage team,' she said.

'The kind of staff we are looking for reflects our operation style. We are a trendy hotel with a good international network, so we wish to recruit young modern people who are innovative, dynamic and interested in advanced technology and greater use of computers.'

Ms Lo noted that nowadays young workers were not just looking for money rewards, they also wanted to have a sense of belonging. Therefore, the hotel provides on-the-job as well as in-house and outside classroom training for both new and old staff. They are also offered flexible and promising career prospects and an open work environment to make them feel valued and respected.

Employees who wish to try a different career path can apply to work in Langham Place's other departments. Such cross-section transfers are not uncommon in the hotel. There have been cases involving former food and beverage staff now working in the catering department, and ex-human resources executives now staff members of the hotel's marketing section.

Outstanding employees can advance to more senior positions within one or two years. There is no standard rule on promotion, and promotion is not only confined to Langham Place hotel. Staff interested in working abroad can apply to further their careers in one of the company's sister hotels in India, Europe, Thailand, Australia and North America.

Do you fit the bill?

More staff for food and beverage services, room service and spa treatment are needed to cope with business expansion

Applicants must be innovative, dynamic and interested in advanced technology

Game-based recruitment is used to test candidates' soft skills

Continuous on-the-job and classroom training are provided

Job rotation is possible within the hotel

Promotion is not just confined to the hotel but its sister hotels worldwide