How should hotels deal with the talent shortage in many major cities in Asia Pacific?

Brad: The recruitment and retention of talent has become a challenge for hotels all around the world, and to an extent that has been the result of the hospitality industry failing to market itself as developing truly exciting careers that make a real difference in the world. The Asia Pacific, in particular, is renowned for delivering superior hospitality.

Hotels should further invest in developing their staff. Upskilling and cross-training helps to provide better coverage in a more competitive talent market. You don’t always need to seek talent outside of your business; with the right training and tools you may uncover the talent is already available. Hotels can adopt technology that’s intuitive and requires minimal training.

The wider use of technology can also assist in filling some of the gaps or empowering staff to be able to do more with their time. We have seen the shift where instead of needing staff in the back office crunching numbers, technology can assist in taking this time away and allowing hotel staff to better use their time critically thinking and planning. We have seen this as Eastiny Hotels. The same principles can apply to allowing your staff more time to cross-train or upskill into other areas that the hotel business requires.

With the rise of Asian residents travelling outbound, especially Chinese travelers now ranking high as a phenomenon in the travel industry, what does it mean for hoteliers across Asia?

Brad: Localization is non-negotiable, and that doesn’t just mean language; it’s about offering local methods of payments, understanding local preferences and customs, and everything in between.

1. They need to be ready to accommodate at any minute, as Chinese travelers are last minute bookers, often making their booking from a hotel’s lobby and then walking up to the front desk to check in.

2. They need to establish partnerships with other travel providers, as Chinese travelers expect bundled products, not just accommodation.

3. They need to be on mobile, as Chinese travelers are absolutely mobile-first. They are widely known for having skipped the desktop generation completely, going straight from bricks and mortar to mobile.

4. As well as mobile, the online booking experience needs to be seamless. The development of tech in China has been so fast. To operate there, you need to have all the tools e.g. mobile, WeChat, etc. The online experience for travelers in China therefore needs to be more seamless than in any other market.

5. They need to think more broadly about their offering, beyond rooms, and think about how they market their destination. Chinese travelers want an experience. When they go to Australia, for example, they expect to hold a koala and take a photo against key landmarks, such as the Blue Mountains and Sydney’s beaches.

6. Chinese travelers are big users of social media, so they want to be able to take photographs and post those immediately on Instagram and other channels to share with their friends.

7. From this perspective, hotels also need to remember that word-of-mouth marketing is still important, as is social media and other platforms such as WeChat. Through those channels, marketing can be exponential.