Job News

Tiffany Wong

Hotel turns hiring manual on its head

With Hong Kong staging the Olympic equestrian event, the city's upmarket accommodation sector is bracing itself for an influx of well-heeled visitors, placing the onus on the hotel industry's ability to wine and dine guests with discerning tastes.Established in Hong Kong in 1957, the Miramar Group's core businesses include property development, hotel management, travel services, and food and beverage services reaching into Hong Kong, the mainland, Taiwan and the United States.

The hotel caters for a growing market of style-minded affluent travellers. It has embarked on a HK$300million renovation to upgrade into high-end hotel services. Alerted to the investment potential by managing director Martin Lee Ka-shing, Hotel Miramar's goal is to expand throughout Asia.

'We have started to invest a tremendous amount of money in repositioning the hotel and renovating the hotel,' said Dirk Dalichau, general manager of Hotel Miramar Hong Kong, and vice-president of Miramar International Management. 'The way we target our customers involves recruiting new talent, different talent. And, with increasing service levels, the number of people we actually employ.'

Repositioning also means that the company is taking a non-traditional approach to hiring. The hotel is expanding its staff from 350 team members to 550. It has about 150 positions open which are expected to be filled in the coming month.

'We like people who are interested in design, art, lifestyle, culture and travelling,' he said. 'But it's more about appreciating diversity - different cultures, different backgrounds.'

New positions include those not normally associated with the industry, such as entertainment director, music director and a style director whose job duties include contributing fresh ideas to the contemporary design-oriented atmosphere. The nature of the job involves servicing young, affluent and demanding clientele in an informal, yet thoroughly attentive and accommodating manner.

Traditional positions in communications, finance and marketing are also open for candidates passionate about the new philosophy.

Mr Dalichau emphasised a demand for creative team members rather than working simply as 'staff'.

In keeping with the contemporary approach, the hiring committee is open to negotiate job titles and responsibilities with recruits according to their abilities.

Candidates strong on soft skills are sought after. 'One of our philosophies is not to look necessarily for skills in terms of knowing how to use computer systems. We can teach these kinds of things,' Mr Dalichau said. 'We are looking for people who are open-minded, who look for solutions rather than at problems and issues.' He cited those with a natural charisma, team spirit and service-oriented personalities to be invaluable.

It would be a bonus, he added, if candidates had an appreciation for the hotel's design-oriented, upscale contemporary repositioning. Previous hotel industry experience is not required as the emphasis is on personality and a diversity of professionals from creative industries. The hotel's new entertainment director is a former DJ and TV host while front desk staff could be former actors or musicians - those who enjoy being in the frontline. Another background which might be looked on favourably include experience in working for a communications agency.

'One of the key languages is definitely English in terms of positioning the hotel into a more international market,' he said, adding that Cantonese and Putonghua skills were useful too.

Hong Kong is the start of the company's expansion into the region, so it seeks to retain team members to allow them to individualise positions according to their desired direction.

'We're creating a blueprint and a flagship,' Mr Dalichau said. 'Obviously, people who are involved in creating this - in pioneering - will certainly be very valuable for the future, for the expansion to drive it forward and to help with new projects.'

The focus of the hotel is to find people who are not looking only to work in Hong Kong, but who are ready to move, to explore new regions; and people who are happy with the possibility of progressing into new ventures. To meet a target market of 'new travellers' that Mr Dalichau described as 'a younger, less formal crowd [who] know what they want, when they want it [and who are] very demanding at the same time', new positions were added and some positions were replaced.

Sneak preview

Hotel Miramar offers 150 team positions to be filled in the coming month

Non-traditional hiring approach with negotiable working titles

New recruits will be creative individuals with service-oriented personalities and modern outlook

Understanding of the hotel's design-oriented, contemporary lifestyle philosophy

Opportunity to stay long-term with the company as it goes about expanding its Asia-Pacific brand