Column on the value of mentoring to help hotels increase profitability

Column on the value of mentoring to help hotels increase profitability

2021 will see hotels around the world re-open and look to get back to profit to off-set the losses of the Covid-19 crisis. 

One of the sector’s most significant and recurring costs is recruitment, with staff turnover rates in hospitality double that of most other sectors. According to the Association for Talent Development, the average cost to train an employee is $1,252 excluding the significant costs of recruitment and highlight the time-lag in finding and training staff.

Successful mentoring programmes in the hotels sector are few and far between, yet more than seven out of ten Fortune 500 Companies run mentoring programmes. The hospitality sector risks falling behind.

For most people, mentoring involves partnering more junior team members with somebody more senior and being told to meet once a month or so, with little structure, training or willing from either side. Discussions are usually one way, and interest quickly fizzles out from one or both sides. There’s rarely any measurement of outcomes – it the team member more engaged, or do they perform better?

Essentially, it’s part of the job and staff have been told to do it, yet neither party see any benefit from it and the whole experience is very hit and miss. My first experiences of mentoring at work were meeting with a future potential manager – more a long job interview than an authentic development opportunity! We’ve heard hundreds of stories of poor mentoring – being forced to listen to long lectures, everyone being ill-prepared, and occasionally bad mentoring proving worse than no mentoring.

However, when well-managed, mentoring can be an invaluable route to increasing employee engagement, performance and helping to retain people. Research shows 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if they were offered opportunities to learn and grow. Furthermore, 67% of businesses reported an increase in productivity due to mentoring, with 55% of businesses feeling that mentoring had a positive impact on their profits. 

This is one of the key reasons why I launched Otolo ( during the global Covid-19 crisis and believe mentoring is key for the hotel industry to bounce back following the disastrous last 12 months.  

Mentoring – the chance for people with experience to guide and share with people seeking development – will be key to helping the sector rebound and recover. Firstly, to retain and re-engage staff – many of whom have had a challenging year and may have been furloughed or working in other sectors to make ends meet, secondly, because more formal and expensive training and development aren’t an option right now, – and thirdly, to help the sector rise from the ashes of Covid-19. 

Mentoring is a social experience and should be made up of informal mentoring ‘moments’ be that online and in person, in groups and one on one, as well as more formally matching people with suitable mentors and mentoring groups.  

This social experience is inclusive and designed to appeal to people throughout their professional lives, including millennials nearer the start of their career. Millennials they make up a substantial percentage of employees and being at the start of their careers are the ones the sector is most likely to lose due to the uncertainty created by mass worldwide closures and travel restrictions. 

Otolo is a social platform to engage with the millennial generation. Millennials are crucial to the hotels sector as they make up a substantial percentage of employees.  Furthermore, with them being at the start of their careers are the ones the sector is most likely to lose due to the mass worldwide closures and travel restrictions.

Retaining and attracting millennials will be even more critical for hotels going forward as millennials will make up more than 75% of the global workforce by 2025. Almost eight of ten (79%) seeing mentoring as crucial to future their career success. 

Furthermore, I would take staff mentoring one stage further in the post-pandemic world and aim to use it not only a way to reduce recruitment costs but engage frontline staff. Mentoring among a global network offers them a platform and structure to develop and recommend new ways to operate whether in their commercial, operational or support roles, including finding new types of revenue or introducing new technology to reduce costs.

The teams at the coalface – those cleaning rooms, serving guests and front of house staff – have a detailed knowledge of how a hotel, restaurant or event venue operates. They are able to see all the potential inefficiencies, while also best understanding how to improve the customer experience. 

By matching front of house staff up for mentoring from peers around the world, or more senior commercial colleagues, they can get a greater understanding of how a hotel operates and offer suggestions – large or small – of ways to cut costs and improve the guest experience that leads to increased profits (and guest satisfaction). 

Covid-19 has caused huge damage to hospitality, for example, half of the sector’s 320 million staff have lost their jobs during the pandemic. However, as we look forward to how the sector can bounce-back from Covid-19, the pandemic has given hotels the opportunity to reset and re-evaluate their operations. 

Now is the time for the hotel’s sector to focus on mentoring to attract and retain staff that can rebuild and help the sector to be stronger than ever.  With that in mind, I’m delighted that the major hotels – including IHG, Hyatt, Movenpick and Ritz-Carlton – are embracing what Otolo has to offer.

James Lemon – CEO and Founder – OTOLO 

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