How to Attract and Retain Hospitality Talent in 2016

EHL Students - Bachelor | 4 Nov, 2016

EHL recently hosted its bi-annual Career Fair. Polished CVs, professional outfits and dream careers were at the center of that rendez-vous between students and companies. From Bangkok to Paris, Geneva to Dubai, how do companies attract prospective talents?

Jonathan Humphries, Senior Lecturer at EHL, led a roundtable discussion with Susan Devine, Senior VP of Strategic Development at Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Jean-Marc Grosfort, Duet Group’s Non-Executive Chairman, and Nick Van Marken, Deloitte’s Global Head of International Travel, Hospitality and Leisure. Here is a sneak peek of the debate.

In the hospitality sector, the possibility to move from one part of the industry to another and to travel around the globe is an experience that can be enjoyed throughout one’s career. That is a key part of what motivates young graduates to choose hospitality.

In any industry, career choices can be purely accidental; and that occurs even more frequently in hospitality. Young professionals sometimes have a very precise idea of their career aspirations but life can have different plans for them, and they often end up somewhere they would never have imagined. As the world of hospitality is in perpetual movement, opportunities come and go. For employers, developing ways to support non-linear careers might become an important talent retention strategy. From an employee's standpoint, success is a matter of taking a chance – a modus operandi for the three speakers, who insisted on the importance of making quick decisions and embracing new experiences.


Once employees have joined the team, work styles become an important factor. As Jonathan Humphries pointed out, there is an old way and a new way of work in hospitality. The old way, a form of revisited Fordism, attributes specific tasks to employees in order to divide the labor. Positions within the team are layered and employees’ opinions matter proportionally to the importance of their uniform. The new way, on the other hand, is more collaborative. Sharing and respect are important values that allow employees to put their ideas forward and make the right decisions.

A big golden plaque on a closed office door, a luxurious car and a large, impressive desk: those are elements that used to inspire respect, instilled through seniority, title and fear. Today, respect is acquired through human relations, knowledge, quality of work and the ability to add value and use it in a proper manner.


Another important aspect is access to information. In the past, detaining information was a sign of power and status within the company. People with top positions could choose what they were willing to share with employees, often providing the strict minimum of information. The digital age has drastically changed the essence and secrecy of information. Today, teamwork and idea sharing depict a new behavior. However, the ease of access to information raises a new dilemma: when everyone can access it, is knowledge still valuable?

Finally, retaining talent in today’s hospitality world is all about mutual respect, motivation, excitement and job interest. Importantly, it is also about growing the talent’s individual autonomy.

Author: Lina Zouhair, EHL Bachelor student
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