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Making the right talent investment

Mohd K Rafin, Chief Corporate Officer, Park Hotel Group

Tourism is a people-oriented industry and this is especially so for the hospitality sector. With the tourism landscape undergoing a noticeable transformation marked by the increasingly complex profiles of a new generation of travellers, what are the implications for hospitality businesses? Mr Mohd K Rafin, Chief Corporate Officer of Park Hotel Group explains the thinking behind the group’s corporate philosophy.

What are the key issues for businesses in the travel and tourism industry today?

There is a shortage of trained and qualified people, so the industry needs to innovate and increase productivity.

In addition to hiring the right people, effective people management is critical to unlocking the potential of employees and building strong teams.

Quality leadership is vital and leaders must generate synergy in the teams they work with which will increasingly comprise of individuals from diverse cultures, backgrounds and perspectives.

With Asian consumers growing increasingly sophisticated, how should organisations prepare their staff, management and future leaders to meet evolving consumer needs in order to stay competitive and relevant?

At Park Hotel Group, we leave lasting impressions on our customers by simply loving our guests. We also believe in taking care of our internal stakeholders and hence emphasise employee care and training opportunities. Treating our staff right is the first step towards great experiences for our guests.

Recognising that attracting, developing and retaining employee talent is a critical management responsibility, we are one of the few hospitality groups with a dedicated Career Service Centre (CSC) to help employees assess their career options and plan for career transition as well as our own training academy. The CSC is aimed at enhancing the value of human capital, increase staff responsiveness to market changes, lower attrition levels and strengthen employee engagement and productivity. Park Hotel Academy is where we train and develop a talent pool of hospitality professionals.

We also piloted a job redesign scheme (Hotel Operations Specialist Team or H.O.S.T) which enables the deployment of specially recruited staff across Housekeeping, Food & Beverage and Front Office – three primary functions of hotel operations, on a shift rotation basis. Trained and equipped with enhanced knowledge, this enables our staff to better provide for our guests and enhances the operational performance at our hotels.

How relevant is talent and leadership development in your overall business strategy and what are some examples of initiatives that have worked for Park Hotel Group?

People are the biggest asset in an organisation and it is important to hire the right people with the right attitudes for the right job. We strongly believe in developing talents and investing in training as a means to unlocking an individual’s potential. In the longer term, succession planning is also important to achieve business growth.

Reflecting our strong commitment in nurturing our people, Park Hotel Group has invested significantly in developing facilities, resources and programmes focused on strengthening employee capabilities, grooming potential talent and future leaders for the business.

Park Hotel Group has one of the largest pools of in-house certified professional trainers within the Singapore hospitality industry with more than 20 in-house executives with an Advanced Certificate in Training and Assessment (ACTA) staffing our training academy.

Internally, there is a management trainee programme in which I am very involved throughout – from the selection to the development process. This includes quarterly reviews with the management trainees to monitor their progress.

Separately, an Executive Development Programme was also introduced to fast track high potential candidates to prepare them for management positions within a shorter time frame of five years.

As we create a culture of hard work and discipline, it is important to balance that with team-bonding activities like inter-department sport events where we encourage our staff to have fun together.

Talent and leadership development continues to be a key topic at TravelRave 2013 and will be explored in greater detail by the industry’s top decision makers and opinion leaders at the Asia Travel Leaders Summit (ATLS). Aimed at cultivating future talent for the travel and tourism industry, ITB Asia and the Singapore Tourism Board are also co-organising a half-day session involving students and industry with a strategic focus on Quality Internship.

Mr Rafin is also a speaker at the Asia Pacific Tourism Destination Investment Conference 2013, one of eight quality travel and tourism related events under the TravelRave umbrella. He will be sharing his professional views on accommodation capacity planning as part of a panel discussion during the conference.

Get connected with the best travel minds ahead of TravelRave 2013, the most influential travel trade festival in Asia. 

Follow us @TravelRaveSG on Twitter, find us at the TravelRave LinkedIn group or visit www.travelrave.sg for the latest industry updates.

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