IMHI Class of 2016-2017

IMHI Class of 2016-2017
Class of 2016-2017

Friday, November 27, 2015

Country Projects: Human Resources in Practice

By Daniel Alexandre Portoraro, MBA in Hospitality Management, Canada/Italy, 2014-2016 2nd Year

The hospitality industry, like many others, is defined first and foremost by the service delivered to the customer. Unlike many other industries, however, that service is hugely dependent on human interaction. As such, it is paramount that those in the hospitality industry have a firm grasp not only of this concept, but of how to best utilize what is referred to as human capital. 

As part of the MBA in Hospitality Management IMHI, all candidates are required to undergo two classes in human resources, Managing Oneself, and Managing People. Both are integral to developing a cohesive human resource strategy; after all, one cannot manage a team without knowing one’s own limitations, skills, and personal aspirations. 

In addition to the theoretical material taught in class, students are required to complete two projects. The major one centers on developing a strong, logical, sprawling human resource plan for a hotel opening in an emerging market (e.g. Kenya, Iran.) In addition to this, groups are assigned a specific brand of a specific hotel operator. This forces students not only to put together an HR plan for a hotel, but one which matches the core values and mission statements of specific brand, and its overarching operator. 

Students are therefore required to delve deep and analyze the corporate culture of a firm, as well as that of a specific brand, and apply it to a specific market, taking into consideration a variety of factors. Following this, students are required to engage in feasibility studies: We have the operator, we have the brand, now how many keys will the hotel have? What facilities? Seemingly easy questions to answer, one must be careful to balance the physicality of the hotel with what the market demands, what the supply is, and keeping all of this in-line with brand standards. 

Once this has been completed, students must begin the strategizing of the hiring and recruitment process: Identifying what types of employees are needed, where to source them, and how to structure compensation packages for both financial, and non-financial reward. While this may appear simple at first glance, one must remember that in certain emerging markets, there is not only a lack of skilled labour that customers and operators expect, but certain cultural, legal characteristics which require further analysis (e.g. market-dependent ethnic or gender quotas.) 

And all of this must be done while keeping within certain financial parameters; human resources is not simply a matter of making one’s operational team happy, but aligning one’s HR goals with the investment objectives of a hotel’s owner. Needless to say, this project requires intensive research, and forces students to reach out to HR professionals within the hospitality industry. 

Whether one is seeking a future in revenue management, business development, or finance within the hospitality industry, this HR project is of paramount value as it forces students to think – regardless of their professional aspirations – of the core aspect of the hospitality industry which is human interaction. By forcing students to think at this level, we realize that wherever we wish to go, sound usage of human capital is of vital importance, both in terms of how we manage others, and ourselves.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Industry Leader Conference: Javier Delgado Muerza from Google

Jessica Moses, MBA in Hospitality Management, United Kingdom, 2014-2016 2nd Year

IMHI recently had the pleasure of welcoming Mr. Javier Delgado Muerza, Head of Vertical Search at Google and an alumnus of the MBA in Hospitality Management at ESSEC, for the second edition of the Industry Leaders Conference.

Over the course of his presentation, Mr. Delgado Muerza provided his personal insight into life after IMHI, being part of one of the most successful digital companies in the world, and his outlook on the future of travel research behavior. He touched on subjects such as:

  • IMHI

As a former student at IMHI, Mr. Delgado Muerza began the session by expressing that the students present were in fact the focus of his presentation. According to him and despite an impressive career in the digital travel industry, the best years of his life were spent at IMHI, building long-lasting relationships. An interesting fact that Mr. Delgado Muerza also shared was that although his strengths did not necessarily lie in academics, his everlasting passion for the travel industry allowed him to be at the position he is in today.

  • Google

It is reasonably fair to say that being a part of a digital giant such as Google, especially at a time when technology has embedded itself into our everyday lives, is certainly a sizable accomplishment. In order for us to understand this achievement Mr. Delgado Muerza  spoke about his impressive career in the travel industry starting in Spain, his home country, at Iberia Airlines , followed by successive positions across southern Europe and the UK at one of the digital travel leaders, Expedia. During his time at Expedia Mr. Delgado Muerza was in fact headhunted by Google in order to head a new division, which was dismantled shortly after his arrival at the company, and integrated into Google’s main product, Search. Following this, Muerza was then redirected to the vertical search department of Google, where he is now the department head.

  • E-Commerce and Travel

Having witnessed the major changes and evolutions of the travel industry and more specifically the digital travel industry throughout his career, one interesting figure is that during the beginning of his career there were maybe 2 actors on the digital travel market. Today there are over 250!

Mr. Delgado Muerza being extremely passionate about the travel industry, believes that this growth is only logical, as the importance of using the internet and new technology is now a major part of our lives (here’s an example: we unlock our smartphones on average 150 times per day.)

According to Mr. Delgado Muerza, in order to accompany their users in these evolutions, Google strives to optimize their tools on a daily basis. An example of this is in Google headquarters itself, where the Engineers not only drive innovation, but are actually in charge of all aspects of the company; for them, usability and customer satisfaction comes first. This was the case for Google Hotel Finder, which was dismantled in spite of its online success. In relation to Google their travel services, when asked whether or not Google could become a major OTA such as or Expedia, Mr. Delgado Muerza confirmed that it was not in the company’s future plans. At least for now.

Lastly, with regards to small independent hotels and their bargaining power in paid search as opposed to large hotel companies, Mr. Delgado Muerza confirmed that the algorithms in terms of search results are not only based on monetary paid search, but also on relevance and other criteria in order to give all hoteliers the best chance at capturing business. Nonetheless, it’s clear, however, that in order to strive within the hospitality sector, hoteliers must gain a thorough knowledge of the online world, and how best utilize it.

Personally, I found it refreshing to have an alumnus at the Industry Leaders Conference who was not purely focused on finance, and worked at a digital vanguard like Google – especially since he was from the sales side. Prior to Mr. Delgado Muerza coming to speak to us, the idea of working for a company like Google within the hospitality industry wasn’t obvious. After Mr. Delgado Muerza’s visit, however, the possibility of looking for career opportunities at Google has opened up, and seems more realistic.