If you’re considering a hotel career or simply looking to reopen your business, you’ll need to keep the changes that have occurred in the industry in mind. To help you with this, Le Cordon Bleu London (LCBL) and Hosco brought together a group of experts to discuss how the industry is bouncing back from COVID-19. The webinar, hosted by LCBL lecturer Nitin Radhakrishnan and Hosco’s Senior PR and Marcom Manager, Zhandra Fuentes, took place on June 9th and featured the following guest panelists:

  • Zahra Al Yousuf, Talent Acquisition Manager, Jumeirah Group, Dubai
  • Dusti Guzman, Global HR Director, Azumi Group, Zuma, Oblix, Roka, Florida
  • Ragnar Fridriksson, Managing Director, The World Association of Chefs Societies (WorldChefs), Paris
  • Fabrice Tessier, VP School Relations and Partnerships Talent & Culture, Accor Group, Paris

This article shares their expert insights on how consumer behavior has changed business models and talent pools, followed by the latest hiring trends. Then, we highlight the newest skills required for the travel sector. Feel free to watch the webinar replay (only available in English) or read the summary below!


How is Hospitality Performing at the Moment?

Zhandra: Our most recent Hospitality Pulse survey from April 2021 gives employers and recruiters insight into current hospitality hiring trends. Both this report and our latest “Hospitality Talks” webinar with STR signal a travel and tourism rebound that is already in progress, which is encouraging. 

With the Re-Opening of the Industry From the Crisis and Uncertainty Still Looming Around, Is There an Adjustment In (your) Business Models Due to Changing Consumer Behaviour?

Zahra: Our guests have had an increased need for hygiene and security from the brand. When we reopened our hotels in Dubai, Jumeirah was the first hotel in the world to win the “Bureau Veritas Safeguard” award. We are using these consumer behavior changes positively to foster brand trust, and this has increased staycations and dining at our hotels.

Fabrice: Implementing “All-safe” at Accor was our successful plan to reassure our guests, alongside staycation offers. Since in-person business events are still lagging behind, we chose to develop partnerships with Microsoft for making our meeting rooms hybrid event-friendly. 

The remote work boom caused us to develop co-working spaces so that guests have the possibility to work from the designated spaces in our hotels and through our Wojo and Mama Works brands.   

How Are You Training and Preparing Existing Employees and The Talent You Are Hiring to Cater to Returning Guests With High Safety Standards?

Zahra: In Jumeirah, we have a lot of training in place for all employees, especially housekeeping and F&B. We’ve also had a vaccination drive within the company to make sure our employees and their families are vaccinated so that both employee and guest health is safeguarded.

What Are WorldChefs’ Activities in Terms of Setting Standards in The Industry?

Ragnar: Our goal is to demonstrate that hospitality is a great career path and not just a summer job.  COVID-19 caused a great loss of talent to the industry, and employers are worried about how to find talent when demand picks up. We created a global culinary certification with City & Guilds to resolve this dilemma.

We’ve also created a recognition system for the hotel industry so that there is a benchmark and clear outline for each career. These certifications allow talent to showcase their skills, and employers to hire the cream of the crop.

With the Changing Geopolitics and the Effect Which Includes Brexit and Other Nationalisation Programmes of the Gulf Countries Including Emiratisation/Omanisation Etc.: What Precautions/Actions Are Being Taken by Operators to Mitigate the Impact of These Policies in Terms of Recruitment?

Dusti: Our priority is regaining the trust that was lost in the industry, and changing the narrative. People also got accustomed to remote work and being their own boss during the pandemic, so convincing them to come back to traditional employer-employee relationships is a challenge. Brexit has made this even more difficult for EU workers.

Fabrice: Among the uncertainty with Brexit, there are also other opportunities presented, such as opening new venues and using staff mobility in Dubai and the Maldives, e.g.

The main thing is the attractiveness of our profession and how we position it to find the right talent. Usually, we hire 80,000 employees per annum, but this year, we have 8,000 open positions globally that are waiting to be filled.

Zahra: Staff mobility also helped us when we closed our hotel in Capri: Our employees were able to fly into Dubai for work. With our new hotels opening in Amman and Saudi Arabia soon, we are collaborating with local governments to foster trust and encourage job applications among nationals, just like we do for UAE nationals in collaboration with the Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing.

How Does WorldChefs Collaborate With the Educational Institutions and Industry?

Ragnar: Education is one of our primary concerns, so helping to set standards in global education was a big opportunity. With employers like the Pullman hotel, we mapped their organizational chart and identified internal career mobility based on our own standards and framework.

This is designed to enable progression into and within the sector and earns employees/students a digital badge, which can be shared on their CV. The badge becomes a marketing tool for the employer/institute because it is co-branded. We can track how many times this badge has been shared and the number of impressions it has received.

What Are the Skill Gaps Identified in the Food and Beverage Areas and What Advice Would You Give Career Seekers to Focus on?

Fabrice: I believe that more than skills, the real shortage is in terms of employees. I encourage (LCB) students to continue their education since they are in high demand, even at Accor. 

Innovation in F&B is high on the list, followed by digital skills.  If we look at Instagram, we see how many pictures are shared of food. Hence, social media, video and picture editing, data analytics, and web development are important, aside from soft skills in guest and team relations and curiosity. Emotional Intelligence will be especially beneficial for the recovery of the tourism sector.

What Do You Perceive in Terms of Additional Soft or Hard Skills Needed for Prospective Job Seekers to Stand Out?

Zahra: Innovation and communication are top skills that we look for in all our hotels’ departments. I also advise students to develop themselves within the brand to demonstrate employer trust and workplace resilience. International experience is also greatly valued by employers, so if possible, get out of your comfort zone to gain this knowledge and skill.  

Dusti: We have people who’ve worked for us for 15 years and above, so I definitely vouch for career progression within the company.  

Young Career Seekers Are Looking for Work-Life Balance and Employers Who Engage in Good Working Practices, Sustainability, and CSR. What Are You Doing to Try to Address These Drivers?

Dusti: Work-life balance was a hot topic pre-pandemic, and we’ve realized that this trend is continuing. Since work-life balance means different things to different people, we are currently developing various suitable options for our staff.

Zahra: We have also examined our work patterns, and some of our back-office employees, those with young children or pregnant employees are still working from home. We are supporting employees with voluntary leave, better working hours, and community support schemes.

Fabrice: For Accor, showing solidarity has been the key to positioning our business, which is why we developed the "All Heartist Fund”. This fund is dedicated to supporting our employees and partners due to the COVID-19 impact and has been of immense support so far.

What Are Your Future Plans in Adding Value to the Culinary Profession?

Ragnar: Hospitality has become one of the biggest employers on the planet, but the focus on people is still underrated. We plan to add value by investing in skills and community development, paying attention to employee mental health, and supporting them.

Zahra: There are immense growth opportunities within Jumeirah, as we are expanding our hotels across the Middle East. With Dubai’s expo coming up in October and its restaurants opening up to full capacity, there are lots of future opportunities for hotel and tourism students and jobseekers. 20% of global jobs were in the travel and tourism field, and I don’t think this will change in the near future.

The industry is only bound to grow as people seek to travel again, so it remains an attractive career path for passionate professionals.