According to Deloitte’s European Hotel Industry Survey, hotels in Europe are set to hit 2019 performance levels by 2023. This is excellent news for hotel managers - it also means, however, that you’ll need to think harder about the skills to look for when hiring hospitality employees. With new travel trends emerging and the talent shortage showing no signs of abating, hotels and restaurants are looking at talent exchange programs as a way to cross-pollinate and grow together. Let’s take a closer look at how that works. 


What Is Talent Exchange?

A talent exchange program involves exactly what the name suggests - an exchange of talent between two companies to fill skill/experience gaps in each. A talent exchange may take place between two companies in the same industry, or - more commonly - across industries, thereby enabling more diverse learning experiences. The aim is to provide hotels, resorts and restaurants with a ready pool of qualified talent they can tap into as needed, while providing their own teams with opportunities to grow new skills and explore alternative career paths. 


How Does a Talent Exchange Program Work?

In a typical talent exchange program, your HR department handles the talent matching with partner companies. It starts with identifying high-potential employees and nominating them for assignments with the partner brand, often in a different city or even a different country. Matching happens on the basis of:

  • The skills called for in the partner job
  • The employee’s potential, as demonstrated by character attributes and their performance at work
  • Preferences the employee has indicated in terms of what they would like to learn. 

In exchange for the employee being sent over, your company typically receives an employee from the partner company to fill the vacant role. Talent exchange programs work best when multiple employees participate, so that different competencies can be filled as and when needed. 


Why Your Hotel, Resort or Restaurant Should Invest in Talent Exchange

The hotel industry is a fast-paced one, and is known for its high staff turnover rate. Those seeking a change have no shortage of options and the labour crunch makes salary expectations easy to meet. As you brace for pre-pandemic levels of business, you’ll need to think about how to keep your talent pool engaged while encouraging innovation - which is exactly what a talent exchange program enables. Here are some of its benefits: 

  • Inflow of new ideas - Employees who come in through talent exchange programs are valuable sources of fresh perspectives. They’ve seen what works for their ‘home’ company, and they can bring those ideas for tweaking and implementation in the ‘host’ company. Done right, this could help the hotel sector find new ways of doing business and thus embrace new travel trends more effectively. 
  • Reciprocal growth - When two companies choose to exchange talent, chances are that the skill gaps in one are matched by the competencies in the other, and vice versa. Both, therefore, end up growing - which means that both are keener to share their best team members and invest in them.
  • Greater agility - With talent exchange, hotels can quickly access the skills they need to grow rather than building them up within their own team. This helps them pivot and take advantage of opportunities sooner. 
  • Higher goodwill - Employees keen to explore their potential and pick new skills can now do so in structured ways, with their employer’s blessing. They get to choose the roles they want, in the locations they want, and explore multiple job descriptions until they find something that sticks. This not only helps them build competencies but also fosters goodwill, which translates to higher productivity for your hotel. 


→ 😎A systematic job offer process can reduce time-to-hire and serve as a great start to the onboarding experience! Check out our top job offer templates for hospitality recruitment.


5 Best Practices for Running a Successful Talent Exchange Program

  1. Identify the skill sets you need - Assess how your hotel has been doing so far and what your goals are for 2023. What are the skills you will need to accomplish them, and which of those skills do you currently lack? Then, identify the industries where you’re most likely to find those skill sets and approach companies with the offer to run an exchange program.
  2. Have tools in place to match candidates with exchange positions - AI and data analytics make the exchange process exponentially easier through talent-matching algorithms. This reduces the need to sort and filter employee data manually and also generates more accurate results. Ensure that the tool is user-friendly and allows all employees to sign up and indicate the skills or job types they want to explore.
  3. Incentivise talent exchange for your team - Your hotel employees need to know that they have options open to them outside just the hotel. Encourage them to apply for opportunities with your talent exchange partners and give them incentives to do so, such as by treating exchange stints as fast-track routes to promotion.
  4. Have structured onboarding programs - Incoming recruits in a talent exchange program will need more support than regular hires. Design specific onboarding tracks that focus on company culture and skill-related training so that incoming employees can feel at home straight away. 
  5. Keep exchanging feedback - Both the participating companies should exchange notes on how their respective employees are doing and whether they need any support to settle in. In addition, check in with the incoming exchange employee about whether they’re getting the training and experience they expect out of the stint. 

Travel and leisure trends are evolving fast, and the old strategies of annual hiring programs may not work anymore. By shifting the focus from competition to collaboration when hiring hospitality staff, your hotel can get the best chance of gathering necessary skill sets faster and building goodwill in the industry. Why not give it a go? 


→ 😎An empowered team is a successful team! Learn more about our best practices for hospitality team empowerment.