Sincerely, BLLA

Hotel Staffing Solutions Galore at BLLA 2021 Event

Part 4 in a series of 8 overviews When talent, culture, and vision come together, that's a powerful blend that touches travelers and communities...

Part 4 in a series of 8 overviews

When talent, culture, and vision come together, that’s a powerful blend that touches travelers and communities. Your hotelier lifestyle shines and you bring that sense of belonging that makes you magnetic to people attracted to your passion.

Sometimes hotel staffing solutions require you to get creative. So that’s our key topic for the day.

Hotel Staffing Solutions: Attract Talent (Not just Another Employee)

In 2021, hoteliers are finding it challenging to recruit talent.

So, here’s a hotel staffing agency with a twist on companies such as Hotel Pro…

MogulRecruiter uses a scientific formula to identify talent and its value. They call these future employees “Moguls.” This is a way hoteliers can employ and pay their supervisors the right compensation, and limit employee turnover.

Yvonne Choi, the co-founder, and Madeline Houk, the director of communications and media, presented advantages to using this kind of service.

Here’s a thought they shared: “We’ve proven that employing and keeping talent increases profit over staying on a lower salary budget.”

Also, Yvonne and Madeline had these thoughts on why their service works:

  • Investing capital into talent acquisition and retention improves profit
  • Mogul candidates are ranked on their projected worth rather than current earnings
  • The Mogul rankings are scored for performance in each area of the hotel to enable rewards for performance improvements
  • Diversity groups such as women, minorities, and blacks are compared
  • Identifying the right talent will support your brand

Searching through a database of hungry candidates looking to become Moguls lets you tap directly into motivated talent.

The Hotel Staffing Shortage: Awakening Your Teams

Many hoteliers had the difficult emotional task of laying off fabulous teammates and navigating through uncertainty.

James Bermingham, the CEO of Virgin Hotels, (one of the best brand names across any industry) spoke with Jonathan Falik, the CEO of JF Capital Advisors about team resilience.

Here’s the message James is delivering to draw talent back to the hotel industry: “This is a fabulous industry that gets negative press around low pay and layoffs. At the end of the day, if you love working hard and sharing with people around you, this is a great business with great mentors.”

Virgin Hotels Dallas

Here are James’ thoughts about team management:

  • Balance the guest experience with team safety in mind
  • Consider employing developmentally or disabled minorities. For example, look to places such as Cafe’ Momentum in Dallas who provide support and training
  • Employ and train up and comers
  • Keep a happy and busy food and beverage service by tapping into local resources

James also warned that the time for guest tolerance due to Covid is over… It’s time to get back to great service.

Winning Back Talented Hospitality Staff

BLLA found more hosts with ideas to get your employment, with a talented team back on track.

Luxury-lifestyle entrepreneur, brand creator, and CEO at her firm, The Madison Melle Agency, Cara Federici, spoke with these hotel powerhouses…

Pablo Migoya, the managing director at Hotel Hugo and Hotel Hendricks is building a boutique collection at SOHO and Bryant Park. And, Brian Cooke, the global director of corporate sales of Freehand and Generator Hotels talked about changing the dynamic so they can keep talent.

Pablo said this about introducing work-from-home staff: “My director of sales had a baby so we’re working out how she can work from home on certain days as she’s a valued team asset.”

Pablo and Brian shared ideas to meet your goals for hiring and keeping talent in today’s market and beyond:

  • Do the traditional interview process so you can assess the values of the talent before you hire them
  • Make all employees feel important. People such as the bellman could be the future of your company if they’re good people
  • Give your staff inclusion and ownership by cross-training. For example, have the doorman inspecting rooms or the engineer make a bed
  • Network to build a Rolodex filled with friendship in the industry that you can call upon to see if they can recommend some talent when you need it
  • Use social media to share your brand’s voice so that talent can see if they’d like to work for you
  • Check out the Florida International University hospitality program for talent

Brian’s hotels cater to a younger market and suggests this for young teams active on social media: “Posts on what the brand is doing to stay relevant give interested talent confidence.”

Lastly, always look for people who feel like they’re born to work in hospitality — Short-term incentives such as signing bonuses come with risk.

An Inside Look: The Boutique Hotel Labor Crisis

A staggering 50% of staff have switched industries… That’s years of changes crammed into two years. So, how do you keep your hotel open and your guests happy?

Guy Maisnik, a partner and vice-chair of Global Hospitality Group @ Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Mitchell LLP discussed this dilemma with Jim McPartlin, the chief people officer at Highgate.

Guy has over four decades of commercial real estate transactions with strong expertise in hotels and finance. 


And Jim (who began his career with the Walt Disney Company) is poised to frame out the next chapter of Highgate’s culture… Driving the Company’s learning platform, advancing Highgate’s leadership development, and sparking creative solutions.

Guy praised the boutique space: “Boutiques tap into local culture and have learned to do more with less.”

Guy and Jim had these ideas for your team’s productivity:

  • Create repeat customers by investing in tech that works. For example, if you advertise high-speed internet, it must work well
  • Grow the three employment pillars of education, mentorship, and career path
  • Show empathy as your staff want to know you care
  • Communicate with your staff about how you’re keeping them safe
  • Check on labor laws if you’re planning to employ people for positions like phone concierge if hiring across state lines

Jim had this to say about copying what fuels Disney’s success: “They make it compelling (to become an employee), there’s meaning to what Disney’s doing.”

Finally, boutique hoteliers are in a position to lead the change as they can be flexible. That includes hospitality staffing solutions. Remember that the cost of NO flexibility can be higher than being flexible. 

This also applies to your food and beverage… 

Hotel Staffing: The Food & Beverage Scene for Boutique Hotels in 2022

The food and beverage side of hospitality is in a constant state of flux. So pivoting to stay on top is essential.

Michael Politz, the publisher of Food and Beverage magazine interviewed a couple of experts to get their insights.

Daniel Patterson is the founder of Coi Restaurant and Travis Passerotti is the executive chef of The Tasting Kitchen.

Daniel shared this philosophy about the way he runs his restaurant: “Taking care of employees used to be the cherry on the cake and now it’s the whole cake — It must be a good place to work.”

Daniel and Travis shared these tips:

  • Don’t try and squeeze every penny or no one will want to work for you
  • Take care of your staff NOW, not when the pandemic is over
  • Address the needs of your neighborhood. For example, shorts and t-shirt dress code in an up-and-coming neighborhood in LA, doesn’t mean the food’s bad
  • Establish good relationships with purveyors to keep costs down
  • Take time to understand local diversity such as natural touchstones, and understanding what people like

Travis had this thought on moving forward with a die-hard approach: “Part of making the change is being the change.”

Loving the food and beverage part of your business helps to create an amenity around the community and an emotional connection that contributes to success.

Hotel Associations Update the Community

Some of the best organizations, represented by nine amazing executives, gathered to share their opinions… One that should put a smile on your face, the hotel industry is close to turning the corner of the pandemic challenges.

Andy Ingraham, the president, founder & CEO of NABHOOD shared some kind words about the hosts of this event: “Partnerships and associations, like BLLA, are coming together so we can continue to grow.”

Here are some thoughts from the group about boutique hotel recovery:

  • There’s optimism that pent-up demand through restrictions on travel will push occupancy levels up
  • Private luxury travel is in demand
  • Your focus should be on what you can control and what you can deliver
  • Your recovery time will depend on your mix of business and location. City centers are lagging through a lack of business travelers
  • The industry is moving to higher vaccination rates in country areas. In the next six months, you should be able to move to management rather than prevention

Bob Gilbert, the president and CEO of HSMAI shared a tip about inspirational hotel staffing solutions: “Talk to hospitality students about their vision of the future. There’s always something to be learned.”

You’ve jotted down some ideas… Now let’s absorb a hotelier’s vision that shows you, creativity is limitless…

Awakening the Experience: A Hotel that Oozes Creativity

When a visionary, Steve Wilson brought his dream to life, he created 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, KY…

21c Museum Hotel Louisville

A hotel with a free museum that bankers, museums, and experienced hoteliers thought was doomed to fail.

So, why was it successful?

Steve reflects: “It came together out of a passion for art and unity. 21c’s become somewhat of a community art center hosting acting classes, play production, ballet, art, and sketching classes. We transform spaces as we change exhibits so people come back.”

Unlike your typical museum, visitors wander around with a cocktail. Also, their contemporary artists help 21c to stay relevant … the artists express how they’ve been dealing with their problems.

Now, this idea isn’t for everyone, but it defines the experience of awakening!

Hotel Staffing Solutions are One Piece of the Puzzle: A Final Word, Be Authentic

As the BLLA conference came to a close, we celebrated and awarded some hotels that achieved design excellence… 

The Grady Hotel in Kentucky took first place in two categories. Their tagline, “Steeped in the Spirit of Louisville” reflects their authenticity with the local historic community.

So, The Grady Hotel shows us that when talent, culture, and vision are combined, boutique hotels and communities benefit.

The boutique mother-daughter duo, Frances Kiradjian, and Ariela Kiradjian presented the awards. And Ariela had these final thoughts on their BLLA community: “We run our organizations very differently from any other association out there. We lead through a balance of strategy, results, and most importantly … intuition.”

When you join, you’ll absolutely love being a part of our boutique community.

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