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.