The Mandarin Oriental Group is practising TQM to help cope with having to shed 110 employees since January. Since laying off 80 staff at the Excelsior hotel on May 19 and 30 at its flagship Mandarin Oriental in Central since January, the group has been emphasising training core staff in multiple skills to cut costs. Previously, a hotel staffer may have been simply responsible for just checking guests, but now he or she has to learn how to check them in, book theatre tickets and handle incoming reservations, according to Jill Kluge, Mandarin Oriental Group's director of group communications. 'We are utilising people better. This is something we're looking at in all areas from house keeping, food and beverage to front office . . . right across the board. 'TQM has helped in looking at what guests need and for us being more efficient. We have cut out the layers and are proud of the strong cost controls we have put in place within the last six months that have not impacted servicing guests.' Finding positive ways to cope with the ongoing financial crisis will be essential with no relief anticipated in the next six months, management consultants say. In March, the Regal Hotel chain laid off 126 workers and job losses are expected at Hong Kong's other major hotels. Profits at the Excelsior had been hit by room rate competition and less use of add-ons such as limousines, hotel meals and shopping, Ms Kluge said. Meanwhile, the Mandarin Hong Kong has faced a six per cent drop in occupancy from an 88 per cent rate last year but the key figure, 'occupancy revenue per available room', has slumped US$46.60 from an average of $136.60 last year. Ms Kluge said 'multi-skilling' had been employed to keep the guests happy and to manage costs. 'There's no negative impact on guests. The feedback is that when they go to the front desk they don't want to have to go from person to person, waiting each time. 'Some workers even find it empowering. In house keeping, we used to have a supervisor check after each room was cleaned, but now we let the workers do the checks themselves and have our supervisors make spot checks periodically. 'The guests don't lose and we concentrate on maintaining productivity,' she said.