Historic hotel that hosted royal visitors sold

It is the ninth consecutive year that Britannia has come bottom of the pile in the annual survey by consumer group Which?

Britannia and Mercure have been ranked the UK’s worst hotel chains after being rated poorly for categories such as cleanliness, bathrooms and value for money.

It is the ninth consecutive year that Britannia has come bottom of the pile in the annual survey by consumer group.

The chain has 61 hotels across Britain, including Liverpool’s Adelphi Hotel and Scarborough’s Grand Hotel. It received an average customer score of only 49%. More than half (51%) of Britannia guests surveyed said they ran into a problem during their stay, with cleanliness being the most common issue. The chain was rated one star out of five for bathrooms, and two stars for seven other categories such as cleanliness, customer service and value for money. One customer said: “It was terrible. The room was dirty. The bathroom was dirty. The carpet was terrible, stains everywhere.” Others complained about hotels being “run into the ground” and “in need of a drastic makeover”.

The average price paid of those surveyed for a one-night stay was £99. Mercure’s average customer score was only slightly better at 52%, with many guests observing that its standards have fallen. One consumer said the chain’s hotels are “not as smart as they used to be” and it has “some poor quality properties”. It was rated just two stars for cleanliness, rooms, bathrooms, communal areas and value for money.Mercure guests surveyed paid an average of £114 for one night.

Premier Inn, with an average price per night of £66, was the best performing large hotel chain with a customer score of 79%.It was topped by the best small chain, Hotel du Vin, which scored 80%. Its guests paid an average of £150 for one night.

The research features 24 large hotel chains and six small ones. A total of 2,371 members of the public and Which? members who stayed in a UK hotel in the 15 months to October 2021 were surveyed. This included 57 who had visited a Britannia hotel and 73 who had spent the night at a Mercure property.

Travel editor Rory Boland said: “Year after year, guests are let down by Britannia’s run-down hotels and often dirty rooms. “This year saw some slight improvements to the chain’s score – but not enough to drag it off the bottom of our rankings. “Until the company ups its game further we would urge guests to look elsewhere. “The impressive, budget-friendly Premier Inn is our pick of the large chains, and Hotel du Vin offers high quality stays in interesting locations.”

A spokesman for Mercure said: “We are surprised to see our position in this survey.“It does not reflect the high standard of guest experience which we strive for, and we will take action to address these comments. “The experience and wellbeing of our guests at each and every property is our highest priority.” It added that it was ranked “amongst the top mid-scale brands” in the latest annual hotel guest survey by research consultancy BDRC.


Travelodge hotel chain announces huge recruitment drive with 600 job vacancies

Travelodge has launched a huge recruitment drive with 600 positions to fill across the company.

With more people opting for a staycation in the UK during the Covid pandemic, Travelodge say there has never been a better time to change careers or to even start a new career within the UK hospitality sector.

The budget hotel chain has continued to grow at pace, welcoming millions of business and leisure customers every year.

And now the company, which employs over 10,000 colleagues, is looking to fill vacancies at its 582 UK hotels, as well as its headquarters in Thame, Oxfordshire.

Travelodge is one of the UK’s largest and most iconic hotel chains and operates hotels across the length and breadth of the UK, as well as 11 hotels in Ireland and five in Spain.

The company is immediately looking to fill full and part time roles with flexible working hours.

Hotel positions include Hotel Manager, Assistant Hotel Manager, Bar Café Team Member, Housekeeping Team Member and Receptionist.

There are 40 roles available at Travelodge’s headquarters in Thame, Oxfordshire, the central network that provides support to the company’s hotels in the UK, Ireland and Spain.

Positions are currently available in the following departments: Customer Services, Finance, HR, IT, Marketing & Sales, PR Property, Procurement, Revenue and UK Operations.

The company is also recruiting for 13 full time Maintenance Engineers to join its field team.

Travelodge say it is the only UK budget hotel chain to have a dedicated in-house maintenance team of experts to support its hotels across the UK, and each Engineer is given their own network of hotels to service.

Engineers receive a branded, fully-equipped vehicle to enable them to travel across their network, as well as a comprehensive personal package including a branded uniform and high quality tools.

Travelodge offers a great range of employee benefits available from the first day of employment.

These benefits include 50% off Travelodge’s UK hotels, room discounts for family and friends and a work anniversary complementary booking voucher.

Further benefits include a pension scheme, discounts at a range of retailers, an Employee Assistance Programme and Life Assurance.

Craig Bonnar, Travelodge Chief Executive, said: “The start of a new year is a great opportunity to kick start a new career change and joining the UK hospitality sector can be the best decision that you make.

“Working in the hotel industry is fun and exciting and it opens a door to a world of opportunities. We are currently searching for 600 new colleagues who have a passion, determination and a real desire to look after people and in return we will provide training, coaching and a dedicated career path.

“Our in-house management development programme, Aspire, has helped thousands of entry level colleagues into a management job.

“Travelodge is also a great choice for mums and dads looking to begin or restart their career. Our ‘Parents Programme’ offers jobs close to home, hours that can match the school run, benefits that suit families and a path into management.


Country overview: Japanese hotel market to grow by 18,000 rooms

According to the TOPHOTELPROJECTS construction database, Japan will experience steady growth in the coming years, fuelled by expansion in Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo.

Our researchers report that 72 hotels with 17,730 rooms are currently in the pipeline across Japan. We take a closer look at the country’s development slate and highlight some schemes that are well worth keeping an eye on.

Japan’s hotel openings by year

Before 2021 draws to a close, five more hotels with 1,085 rooms will open their doors in Japan. For 2022, 28 launches with 4,733 keys have already been pencilled in, followed by another 14 schemes with 2,915 rooms in 2023. A further 25 projects and 8,997 keys are in the works for 2024 and beyond.

Of Japan’s 72 new hotels, 43 will be in the four-star category, while the remaining 29 are targeting the five-star market.

Top urban growth markets

Osaka, one of the country’s key economic hubs, will get eight new hotels in the coming years, adding 4,553 rooms to the city’s offering. Over half of this impressive figure stems from a single megaproject incidentally – the 2,500-key MGM Resort Osaka.

Elsewhere, and only a short drive from Osaka, the cultural hotspot of Kyoto will get seven new properties with 995 keys. And the capital Tokyo will see six hotels with 1,348 rooms open soon.

International hotel brands expanding in Japan

All three of Japan’s fastest-growing hotel brands hail from North America.

Fairfield Inn & Suites, by Marriott International, takes the lead with 11 active projects set to bring 900 new rooms into play. Fellow US giant Hilton Worldwide’s signature brand Hilton Hotels & Resorts, meanwhile, will add five properties and 1,747 keys to its offering in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Lastly, Canada-based Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts is currently working on three projects with 495 rooms.

Exciting new hotels in Japan’s project pipeline

Let’s start with Hoshino Resorts Omo7 Osaka Shin-Imamiya, which is due to open opposite a major train station in Q2, 2022. From here, guests will be able to easily reach Kansai International Airport as well as popular downtown areas. On top of its convenient location, the hotel will benefit from expansive green spaces, multiple restaurants, a cafeteria and open spaces for public events.

Over in the foothills of Mount Fuji, Unbound Collection by Hyatt, Fuji Speedway will offer guests convenient access to events at the new Motorsports Village facility. Once the property opens, it’ll feature 120 rooms and suites, a flexible banquet room of 500 sq m, a 200 sq m conference room, fine-dining restaurants, bars, an indoor pool, a fitness centre, a spa and natural onsen hot-spring bathing facilities. Guests will also be able to gain access to the onsite car museum, celebrating the historic significance of Fuji Speedway.

Finally, in early 2023, Four Seasons Resort and Private Residences Okinawa will begin welcoming guests. The 120-room resort is located on the beachfront along the island’s western coast, just 31 miles from Naha International Airport. Its facilities will include an all-day dining restaurant, specialty dining, a lounge, shops and recreational facilities, as well as public grounds and gardens.


Former hotel workers sue Swissotel Chicago, accused it of violating ‘Right to Return to Work’ ordinance

Swissotel didn’t respond to a request for comment, but sent a letter to the women’s attorney in August, arguing the ordinance doesn’t apply to the three women because they were “terminated,” not “laid off.”

Maria Ruiz was a banquet server at Swissotel Chicago nearly 24 years, putting her job before her family, sometimes sleeping in a hotel room for just a few hours between shifts when there wasn’t enough time to go home.

“I was at the hotel for 36 hours straight,” Ruiz said Tuesday afternoon at a news conference outside the hotel. “I wasn’t able to kiss my babies good night or hug them in the morning. My brother was killed two years ago and it was so hard — but even then I didn’t miss a day or work.”

Ruiz, 51, was one of hundreds of hotel workers who lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The uncertainty of their future was scary, but the Chicago City Council sought to alleviate that anxiety by passing the “right-to-return-to-work” ordinance to make sure hotel workers could get their jobs back instead of being replaced.

But a lawsuit filed Tuesday accuses Swissotel of violating that ordinance by not rehiring Ruiz and two other banquet servers, each of whom had worked at the hospital at least 20 years.

“I dedicated my life to this job, to this hotel. I was so proud to work there,” Ruiz said. “Since being fired last year, my life is like a nightmare that I haven’t been able to wake up from.”

Unable to find new work or pay her mortgage, Ruiz said she’s on the verge of losing her house, The situation is just as dire for the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Marie Lourdie Pierre-Jacques and Maria Teresa Hernandez.

The ordinance had been pushed by union leaders and laid-off hotel workers. It called for Chicago hotels to prioritize seniority when deciding which former employees to rehire. The women involved in the lawsuit advocated for the ordinance, speaking out publicly in favor of it.

That original version, however, was opposed by the hotel industry as a logistical nightmare that would slow the pace of rehiring. It made no sense, they argued, to rehire someone based only on seniority if it meant having to hire a dishwasher to do an accounting job.

Eventually, a compromise version passed the Council. It narrowed the scope, requiring seniority be considered, but only within the same job categories.

But in their lawsuit, the women claim Swissotel offered positions to banquet servers with less seniority than the three women.

Swissotel didn’t respond to a request for comment, but in a letter sent to the women’s attorney in August, it argued the ordinance doesn’t apply to the three women because they were “terminated,” not “laid off” — an important distinction, the hotel’s lawyers argued in the letter.

Stephen Yokich, an attorney for the women, said they anticipated this problem when they lobbied for the bill, but even so, “most responsible hotels in the city are following the law,” he said.

“Swissotel passed over the women who helped pass the law in the first place,” Yokich said. “Our message to the court will be the same as our message today: Swissotel should follow the law.”

Pierre-Jacques stood behind her colleagues during Tuesday’s news conference, often breaking down in tears as she remembered working while pregnant. Her co-workers often joked she would go into labor at the hotel because of the long hours she worked.

When she did gave birth to her son, she returned to work in just six weeks. She would drop the baby off at her sister’s house on her way back to the downtown hotel.

“I left him with my sister and for a long time he thought my sister was his mother. It broke my heart every time he called her ‘Mommy.’” Pierre-Jacques said through tears. “No one can understand that feeling unless you have been through it. I sacrificed that time with my son because I thought I was being a good worker. I thought if I worked had and give my all, my job would respect me back.”

Chicago Federation of Labor President Bob Reiter joined the women and their supporters outside the hotel to show his support in the lawsuit which calls for the women to be reinstated and for them to receive back pay from the date of when they “should have been reinstated.”

“We believe that as guests return to Chicago and hotels increase staffing, hotels should recall the workers who have dedicated their lives to Chicago’s tourism industry,” Reiter said. “These women were fired by Swissotel Chicago during the pandemic, they’ve also been on the front line of advocating for Chicago’s hotel worker’s rights. … We are here to support these workers who are seeking to enforce their rights.”

The Federation of Labor has an ownership stake in Sun-Times Media.


Government to deliberate on late night hospitality guidelines

Government officials will resume their deliberations in the morning on how to iron out anomalies in the new plan to reopen the late night entertainment industry, which is due to start on Friday.

It is understood that Minister for Culture and Arts Catherine Martin was in contact with arts and music representatives earlier today.

The Restaurants Association of Ireland and the Licensed Vintners Association say they have not been invited to any talks tomorrow.

Government sources suggest, however, these groups are likely to be contacted in the morning to garner their views on what should happen.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin told RTÉ News that he accepts the need for clarity, adding he also understands that the timelines are short.

As part of tomorrow’s deliberations, there will be a meeting of the Regulatory Forum – a body involving the gardaí, the Heath and Safety Authority and environment health officials.

The Taoiseach said these officials will be charged with working out what is termed an enhanced form of compliance and enforcement, to ensure that people are adhering to the guidelines.

When asked why live venues will be restricted to only seated guests while nightclubs appear to have fewer constraints, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that will initially be the case but hinted that these seating restrictions could be eased over time.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Prime Time, he said the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) is trying to get away from “banning normal activities”.

“There are two options, one was pause to see if things got better. They advised against that because things won’t fundamentally change over the next few weeks.

“This is going to be the new normal for the next couple of months.”

Mr Varadkar added that there are no guarantees “this will work out” as he said projections show that cases and hospitalisations are likely to rise.

He said he trusts the projections, and despite the fact that NPHET, NIAC and Government members will not always have absolute unanimity on everything, he believes they share the same view on the way forward today.

Earlier, it was announced that any sectors or businesses due to reopen on Friday can do so but with specific protective measures in place.

At a briefing at Government Buildings, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the progress made over the course of the last year is “real and tangible and has to be protected”.

The Cabinet met at Dublin Castle earlier to consider the advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team in relation to the planned easing of restrictions.

This Friday was due to see an end to the requirement for physical distancing, or mask wearing outdoors, or indoor, in private settings.

NPHET had advised that existing restrictions on hospitality should stay in place until around spring 2022.

The Government’s revised reopening plan includes the return of normal trading hours in bars and restaurants but table service only measures will remain with a maximum of ten adults at a table.

These premises and nightclubs will only be open to those with a digital certificate.

Mr Martin said businesses or any event that allows people indoors must check for proof of vaccination and enforce the rules.

The caps on numbers at weddings and religious ceremonies are also to be dropped and a return to full capacity at sports stadiums has been included under the measures agreed by cabinet.

The Taoiseach said Covid passes will not apply for outdoor events.

He added that fixed capacity will no longer apply for indoor and outdoor activities but protective measures must be put in place. Mr Martin said where groups are mixed indoors, pods of six will apply.

Antigen testing will also play a bigger role in this phase of reopening and tests will be sent to fully vaccinated close contacts.

These new measures will be in place until February 2022. The Taoiseach said there will be sector specific guidance issued.

He asked that anyone who has not been vaccinated or who has not received their second dose to make arrangements for this.

Mr Martin said the changes to the reopening plan give space to make sure the next steps towards normality are safe and sustainable.

He said the Government is not putting capacity limits on national outdoor sporting events, adding that protective measures such as masks will apply.

In relation to booster vaccine advice, the Taoiseach said the National Immunisation Advisory Committee said in its correspondence to Government and to the Chief Medical Officer that it is going to keep the administration of boosters to healthcare workers under review.

Mr Martin said he understands the concerns that are there in relation to healthcare workers, but the Government is not the expert on the issue.

At the same briefing, the Tánaiste said the pandemic is not over yet and “unfortunately we’re going to have to get through at least another winter before we can be safely say it’s behind us”.

Leo Varadkar said: “We’re not where we hoped or expected to be for October 22nd”.

In August the Government thought that Ireland would be past the peak of the Delta wave, but that is not the case and “we’re most likely experiencing a twin peak”.

He said NPHET modelling and projections indicate that cases will continue to rise and peak around the end of October or in November.

The Tánaiste said that modelling also shows that hospitalisations will rise to 800-1,000 peaking around mid-November with ICU numbers peaking at 100-150 around the end of November or early December.

He described the change to the plan as “deeply disappointing”, adding that a lot of sectors who had hoped to be fully open with full capacity “will be crestfallen that we haven’t got out the gap just yet”.

There is no need to reimpose restrictions, Mr Varadkar added, because a high proportion of the population is vaccinated.

He said that if these numbers existed last year, the Government would be announcing that it was reintroducing curbs.

A large number of people including children are unvaccinated, the Tánaiste said, and there is evidence that the immunity is waning particularly among those who were vaccinated more than six months ago.

Mr Varadkar said NPHET had considered a full pause for a few weeks, but it recommended against that “on the basis that the situation will not be much different in a few week’s time and it’s going to be like this for a few months”.

He said the country is going to have to live with Covid-19, this is not going to be easy, and it means adjusting to a new normal for at least the next couple of months.

The strategy has three elements – vaccines, test, trace and isolate, and keeping our economy and society fully open but with protections.

The Tánaiste said that testing will resume of fully vaccinated people who are close contacts and have no symptoms, but this will be done through antigen testing to supplement PCR testing.

People who are going to be in groups or crowds will be encouraged to start self-testing and using antigen tests to do so, Mr Varadkar added.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said the advice the Government received from NPHET was a “really serious note of caution” on various areas including epidemiology and hospitals.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, Mr Donnelly said the five-day case average at the moment is around 1,700.

“I can tell you that the number of cases that’ll be reported later on today will be well in excess of 2,000,” he said.

“So we’re seeing about a 40% to 50% increase in average daily cases over the last month, so this has moved quite quickly.

“The result of that is more people in hospital … and more pressing again is the number of people in ICU.”

The minister said NPHET’s advice was essentially that while reopening can continue, it has to be done “more carefully than we had all hoped to do it”.

He said that up until about two weeks ago, the Government was following the “most optimistic” of the four scenarios that NPHET had laid out.

Mr Donnelly said “several thousand” vaccination certificate checks have been carried out at venues by the Health Service Executive and Health and Safety Authority, and about two thirds of venues are in compliance.

He said that according to new survey results, one in three diners have said they are not being asked for their cert.

“That’s not good enough,” Mr Donnelly added. “We need a much, much higher rate of compliance than that. There’s going to be intense engagement with the sector by the various Government departments.

“What I would say to the sector is – I know you’ve had a really tough year and I fully understand what you’ve been dealing with, and the majority are compliant, but we need to get much higher than a two thirds compliant rate on these Covid passes.

“They keep your patrons safe and they keep your staff safe, and it really is important and it is a legal requirement for you to strictly enforce the Covid pass.”


It’s not just about PUP: why hospitality workers are staying away

Opinion: the time has come for the hospitality sector to reassess itself and what it represents

By Lorraine Ryan and Juliet Mac Mahon, University of Limerick

The hospitality sector is a significant contributor to the Irish economy, accounting for 7% of employment before the pandemic. There is no doubt that this sector has been one of the hardest hit by the Covid crisis. Government health restrictions meant widespread closures and reduced business capacity causing widespread and significant disruption for both employers and workers.

Since the reopening, the woes of the sector have continued, with Fáilte Ireland noting 90% of hospitality organisations are experiencing staff shortages. The impact on businesses has been severe. Many are unable to operate at full capacity and are closing their doors on certain days. Others have taken the difficult decision to close permanently.

Various reasons have been put forward for the exodus of workers from the sector: Much work in the sector is considered low paid. A 2019 ESRI report noted that 30% of minimum wage workers in Ireland worked in the hotel and restaurant sector.

From RTÉ Radio 1’s Drivetime, Adrian Cummins from the Restaurant Association of Ireland on major staff shortages reported in the restaurant industry.

Then, there’s the work itself. Whilst it can be rewarding, working in hotels, bars and restaurants can also be physically demanding and requires considerable emotional labour. Working hours can be long and unpredictable, characterised by split shifts and/or constantly varying rosters.

New requirements within the sector since Covid have added to this workload. Workers now must deal with additional cleaning measures, check vaccine certificates, and ensure customer compliance with health and safety measures. The restaurant sector’s reputation has not been helped by anecdotal stories of students being asked to work ‘trial shifts’ of up to a week for free and the recent case of a worker paid by a bucket of coins. It is said that many workers have reassessed their lives and chosen to seek work in other sectors or in the case of migrant workers (on which the sector heavily depends) to simply leave Ireland.

The Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) has also proved controversial. Research highlighted that the original payment was 50% higher than the gross weekly wage of the average minimum wage employee in the hospitality sector (€232.30). It has been asserted that many low paid workers prefer to remain on the PUP rather than return to often challenging and low paid work.

From RTÉ Radio 1’s Saturday with Katie Hannon, a panel discussion on PUP payments and labour shortages in the hospitality sector

So what’s the solution? There have been calls from leaders within the sector for the PUP to be abolished, but the payment is currently being phased out and it remains to be seen if this will have an impact on labour shortages. Given that shortages were seen before the pandemic, it’s possible that recruitment issues will dog the sector post-PUP. Employers are seeking supports from Government in the form of tax breaks such as a return to lower VAT rates, changes to work permits and visa systems for migrant workers.

While the changes called for by the industry may have some impact in the short term, they externalise the problem and fail to acknowledge the aspects of work that make the industry unattractive for many. Perhaps leaders need to carry out a root and branch honest evaluation of working conditions across the sector (positive and negative) and examine how to increase sustainability for workers and employers alike?

Sustainability is a concept normally associated with climate change and the environment, but sustainable human resource management is gaining traction. This has been defined as “the adoption of strategies and practices that enable the achievement of financial, social, and ecological goals, with an impact inside and outside of the organization and over a long-term time horizon”. The broader social goal involves organisations incorporating elements such as ‘decent work’ into core policies and Irish organisations, such as An Post, have adopted this as a core strategy.

RTÉ Brainstorm video on the low-paid workers who kept Ireland open during the pandemic

There is no denying that the sector operates on tight margins and that pay is never going to be at the highest end of the spectrum. However, some areas for consideration include

(i) Talking to workers and their representative groups in determining the future structure of work within the sector.

(ii) While fluctuating working hours may work for some groups such as students, more predictability needs to be considered for at least a proportion of workers to achieve longer term stability and retention.

(iii) The sector, especially the hotel sector, could examine formalised career pathways – not just at managerial levels, but for relatively low skilled workers who enter the industry. Potential training and career advancement opportunities may increase the attractiveness of the sector despite relatively lower pay.

From RTÉ News in 2018, a survey has found that many hotel and restaurant workers are not receiving tips

(iv) It may be time for the industry to re-evaluate the issues around low pay and there are already government supports available. Joint Labour Committees facilitate wage setting which can level the playing field for all organisations within the sector. Employers have been reluctant to engage with this process, but this warrants reconsideration.

The hospitality sector is of huge importance to the economy of Ireland. However, the time has come for the sector to reassess itself and what it represents. Many of its workers have clearly done so during the pandemic. Perhaps a more sustainable approach to human resource management and employment relations can provide some answers.


Gender Diversity At The Top Of The Ladder: Will Hope Become Reality?

Universities are educating more and more women

Education is a major factor enhancing development and quality of life. As highlighted by the United Nations, it has become a priority in international development goals. In recent decades, the share of young adults (25-34 year-olds) reaching tertiary education [1] across all OECD countries increased to 44%, which is significantly higher than the 27% for their 55-64 year-old counterparts (OECD, 2019). In Switzerland, 53% of young adults had a college degree in 2019, while this figure was as low as 26% in 2000. In an increasingly competitive world, education works as one of the main signaling systems for individuals (if you manage to get a high enough GPA from a respected university, you are signaling to future employers that you might have some valuable skills). Yet education remains flush with inequity, and the increase in educational attainment is more pronounced for certain categories of the population.

For example, did you know that in almost all OECD countries, more women attend college than men? If you’ve had the chance to visit a university campus recently, you might have noticed. A concrete example is EHL, one of the leading hospitality management schools in the world based in Switzerland, where 59% of bachelor students are women. This figure is in line with recent OECD data showing that 57% of young adults with a university degree are women, versus 51% for 55-64 year-olds (OECD 2019, Education at a Glance Database).

Many female college grads don’t make it to the top of the ladder

Overall, statistics show that universities are educating more and more women, with most majoring in business administration studies [2]. Logically, the proportion of women in top management positions – especially finance-related ones – should reflect this general trend … but this is where the figures don’t exactly add up.

In the European Union in 2019, women accounted for 28% of publicly-listed companies’ board members and only 18% of executives, versus 15% and 10% in 2012 (Eurostat, 2019). In other words, the trend is positive, but most female college grads don’t make it to the top of the ladder. Moreover, significant heterogeneity remains across countries, and large changes occurred predominantly in countries that voted quotas into law. Finally, women have easier access to management positions in certain industries. For example, 33% of senior top managers in the hospitality industry in 2015 were women, slightly below education (41%) and healthcare (41%), which contrasts with construction and real estate (18%) and mining and quarrying (12%) (Statista).

Men and women make decisions differently

Things are starting to change, albeit slowly, and gender diversity has become a central concern from a social, political, and governance point of view. Given the current overall positive trend showing that women are more present in boards and executive committees, it is important to understand the consequences of having more women in high-skilled financial positions. Indeed, gender diversity might bring diverse experiences, perspectives and incentives into the discussion and improve the decisions that are made.

The literature documents that gender-based differences include behavioural aspects in terms of planning, decision-making, risk tolerance, and overconfidence (Ittonen and Peni, 2012; Khlif and Achek, 2017). Indeed, men and women make decisions differently (Lee et al., 2019) and female top managers tend to be more diligent and conservative, less overconfident, and more risk averse.

Much-needed research is on the way

To understand the consequences of increasing gender diversity in high-skilled financial/accounting positions, researchers from EHL and Grenoble Alpes University are currently working on a project investigating Swiss publicly-listed companies. The goal is to analyse how audit quality is impacted by the interplay of women in the auditor-auditee relationship. Descriptive data show that, between 2010 and 2017, the percentage of audit committees (a committee composed of board members in charge of the oversight of the financial reporting process) with at least one woman increased from 13% to 39%.

Regarding audit reports, it appears that they were signed by at least one female auditor in 26% of the cases in 2010, and 35% of the cases in 2017. These increasing trends are important factors that might impact the negotiation and the relationship between the auditor and the client, the auditing process itself, and the subsequent accounting information quality. For instance, several studies document that women audit partners provide higher quality audits in Finland, Sweden and the UK (Ittonen et al., 2013; Cameran et al., 2017), and that female directors are more effective in dealing with complex audit tasks and judgments (Chung and Monroe 2001; O’Donnell and Johnson 2001; Neidermeyer et al., 2003; Lee et al., 2019).

The results of the study will be released soon. For the moment, however, the figures tell us that women are becoming increasingly present in high-skilled financial functions although there is still a long way to go to reach parity.

[1]Tertiary education is defined by the World Bank as “including both public and private universities, colleges, technical training institutes, and vocational schools.”
[2]Most tertiary-educated people have a degree in business administration or law (25%), while less than 5% have a degree in information technology, natural sciences, mathematics, or statistics (OECD, 2019).
[3] Castell Research Project
[4]Data covering 31 US publicly-listed firms.

Source: Poretti, C. (2021) | Hospitality Net:

Covid-19: Hoteliers Review Their Human Resources Strategies

Major hotel chains are reducing their workforce.  The business is performing 50% below normal levels in the European market and Asia Pacific, excluding China [iii] ; Marriott’s CEO Arne Sorenson said that the hotel business was running almost 75% below normal levels. This is the reason behind Marriott’s decision to cut off two-thirds of its 4,000 corporate employees at the Bethesda, Maryland head office, which means approximately two-thirds of corporate staff abroad will also be furloughed.

All the way down to the hotel operation level, the international brands are facing the critical issue of redundancy during this current COVID-19 crisis, regardless of each owner’s specific cash flow situation.


What are your underlying drivers for retention or downsizing strategies?

This article will navigate through the upsides and the downsides of these two strategies: Retention or downsizing. We will provide you with examples and reflections that you may find useful to evaluate your best actions.

The underlying variables of the post-COVID-19 business plan are related to economic and governmental policies, and they are not consistent worldwide. Therefore, in this document, we are not going to provide our opinion nor recommendations. Nevertheless, our hotel asset management team can provide best practices and adapted approaches to each particular hotel.


PRO “ Instilling Loyalty Among Your Staff”

The corporate value of international hotel brands includes the relevant element of employee caring. For example, Marriott states that they put people first and their value is “Take care of our associates and they will take care of our customers.” Besides the written contract, the hotel chains have built psychological contracts with their employee that create unwritten expectations in the employment relationship.

As such, the handling of employee-related issues would determine if the psychological contract is perceived as being kept or breached. The breach can severely damage the motivation and performance of the staff.

In this hyper-connected world, information about mishandling labour-related issues could be quickly propagated and damage the employer branding of the hotel chains. However, it could be an opportunity for hotel chains to show that they care for the well-being of their employees. For instance, Hilton has announced that it will team up with 30 leading companies to provide temporary jobs, in addition to the common practice of covering health benefits. Furthermore, Accor will allocate EUR 70 million in a fund to cover those employees without medical insurance or social security that present COVID-19 health issues and to support front-line healthcare professionals & non-profit organizations. The fund has been raised from the unpaid year 2019 dividends.

The determination to maintain a positive attitude towards staff-caring and experience throughout the crisis is crucial for the recovery phase. There is no doubt that the different hotel brands will restart the competition for the talents in the industry once the market starts to recover. Good employer branding can be a competitive edge. Besides employees do not forget when you support them during tough periods.

CON “Adding Substantial Pressure to Your Cash flow”

When occupancy is plummeting to single digits, cash flow management becomes the lifeline of nearly all the hotels. As labour costs, regardless of the hotel category, generally represent the largest component of operational expenses, multiple hotel chains including Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Accor and MGM have announced furloughing schemes as a component of their COVID-19 responses in order to slash costs.  Furthermore, these hotel chains have also declared a different degree of pay cuts for the remaining employees. For example, CEOs put a halt to cash dividends and reduced salaries to senior executive teams by 50% [iv].

The cost-saving exercise should be conducted in a way that allows the hotel to recover quickly once the demand comes back. A salary cut policy is required at every level to survive; in other words, we all need to tighten our belts until the ramp-up stage.

The significance is that, if the termination of the employment contract is not an option, some businesses may be only left with one choice: a total shut down. When planning different financial scenarios, it is essential to manage the working capital for the short term and medium term. Owners need to start pro-active discussions with their banks or other investors to increase their debt service, (we have published another article specifically on this topic).

On 28th March, the Wujiang Hotel Chain, an emerging hotel chain that was formed under the investment of C-trip last year, was the first hotel chain to collapse in this crisis. Xiaodong Ma, the CEO of this hotel chain, has announced they will terminate all employment contracts by 30th April [v] . There is no doubt that the ban on unilateral termination of employment contracts in China during the lockdown has greatly contributed to the downfall of this one-year-old hotel chain [vi].


PRO “Team optimisation and transformation”

The drastic drop in business has forced many hotels into a minimum level of operation. At the same time, the crisis has made it easier for the operators to identify who are the core staff and who are the weaker team players. We all know that layoffs are necessary and that they open up an opportunity to review the organization to optimize productivity, reduce long term costs and often improve the overall operation/guest experience.

In addition, the Human Resources department should optimize the workforce according to several variables that will impact the labour cost structure:

  • Adjust the business plan with several tentative re-opening dates.
  • Adapt the workforce to different ramp-up occupancy levels.
  • Reorganize F&B team to the gradual opening of the various outlets (the same applies to other operating departments).
  • The well-being of employees: Motivate, train (e.g., new hygiene procedures) and reassure the team after this challenging period.

CON “Consideration of recruitment & re-training costs, and reputation”

As China’s economy is slowly shifting towards recovery mode, many labour-intensive companies, including hotels, have found themselves short of workforce. The reason for this labour shortage varies; but one of the reasons was that some employees were reluctant to return for fear of infection.

Since 2016, many industry analysts have been expressing concerns over a labour shortage at all levels, especially in the operational departments. This phenomenon is highly detrimental to the industry, as hotels’ operation requires a set of expertise in every department. The labour shortage can be statistically proven by the increasing labour cost percentage at hotels.

Also, other than payroll, there is a key factor that justifies the value of raising the labour costs: Training. When hotel management executes a training plan for different levels of staff, the costs included in this are training materials, supplies, certification programs and instructor fees. A thorough training will have a direct positive impact on productivity, customer satisfaction, revenue growth through upselling and enhance employee satisfaction that leads to lower turnover.

It is logical to interpret similar situations that would occur in other sectors in the recovery phase; keeping the current staff may be a sound strategy for minimizing the cost of rehiring. As hotels in China rely on the domestic labour force, it can be estimated that the increase in hiring cost after the crisis can be even steeper for countries which are mainly relying on foreign labour. 

Last but not least, owners and operators should consider that downsizing has a reputational risk, especially if the crisis is short. Before making any decision, it is important to consider the following: What are the hotels core values? How do owners and operators want to be recognized in the market? How will this impact in the recovery period? 

The list of pros and cons of each strategy seems to be limitless and we are only listing out the general considerations. As such, please do not hesitate to share with us your thoughts and considerations on your staff retention and downsizing strategies.

Source: EHL Insight |

The Micro-Habits Of Natural Leaders

Organizations are transitioning from a hierarchy to a network; a shift from a formal command-and-control structure to self-organized networks. What does this mean for leadership?

In a network-based organization, leadership is personal leadership. Leading oneself gives one the ability to lead others. I refer to this progression as natural leadership, as opposed to the formal or titled leadership.

Groups form and dissolve continuously and spontaneously around natural leaders working on themes that are relevant to the organization. The CEO establishes the themes and sets the constraints while teams self-organize around natural leaders. Purpose is centralized while power and influence is decentralized.

All leadership is evolving to become personal leadership, which carries both credibility and influence. Leaders at the center of social change have always shown these traits, from Gandhi and Martin Luther King to Mother Teresa and Mohammed Yunus. People drawn to such leaders say: I believe you because I see that you have walked the path you are asking me to take. I am willing to put myself in the path of difficulty because I resonate with your vision and your authenticity.

The essential question is: How does one evolve into a natural leader?

My answer lies in what I call the micro-habits of natural leadership: small, simple actions done consistently over long periods of time, which create significant positive change in you and also have a positive impact on others.

While I am guilty of not having done this all the time, I have learned what truly inspires others about your leadership is the grit and consistency to conquer your own instincts. Here are a few simple micro-habits I follow:

Walk for ONE hour every day: Sitting is the new smoking. The more you sit, the faster you age. Today the second-most common reason for visiting a doctor (the common cold comes first) is lower back pain. If you sit for six hours every day for 10-20 years, you lose seven years of healthy life. I aim for work-life integration rather than work-life balance. While I do not go to the gym, I build in an hour of walking into my schedules by having walking meetings, especially right after lunch. 

Drink ONE glass of water (with lemon) first thing in the morning: One of the simple habits is to drink one glass of warm water first thing in the morning, with a squeeze of lemon. Science tells us that although the lemon water is acidic by nature, by the time it hits the stomach it turns the environment of the stomach alkaline, which reduces acidity and heartburn.

ONE act of kindness every day: People are healed by gratitude. Whether it is helping someone cross the road or stopping to ask someone how they are and genuinely listening, research shows that giving helps the giver more than the receiver. The phenomenon termed ‘the helper’s high’ has mysterious healing powers as well.  Go-getter is good, go-giver is better. 

Make ONE introduction a week: Adam Grant in his book Give and Take, talks about making introductions – the simplest but most powerful form of giving. I have tried to maintain the habit of making one meaningful introduction a week. The art is to think about two people who should meet but have not, connect them, and get out of the way without expecting anything in return. 

Write ONE hand-written card every week: In a digital world, the power of the written word has increasing value. There is a capture and transfer of human energy that only happens when you write. I keep a stack of blank cards with me all the time, so that I am able to spontaneously write a short note of appreciation.

Mentor ONE person: Find one person in more difficult circumstances than you are and offer help with your experience rather than money. You will be surprised by how much the act of mentoring changes you. Just one act may not be helpful but doing one small act for a long period to the same person can change a life. 

Read ONE book a week; write ONE blog a month; teach ONE class a year: This is three micro-habits put together, but start where it makes sense for you. Reading even 20 minutes a day allows you to read around 20 books a year. Writing a blog is an excellent way to refine your own thinking about a topic that interests you. Teaching not only helps you improve your own thinking and learning but exposes you to your own biases. 

Sleep is sacred: It is important to sleep the same eight hours every night; if you cut it to six, the effect is same as two days of non-sleep. We can actually increase our performance by 29% just by sleeping well. 

Start with a micro habit so small that it cannot fail, and then do it for 66 days (it takes anywhere between 21 to 66 days, depending on the person, for an action to become a habit). 

Life is a dance between making it happen and letting it happen. So, do small things repeatedly and leave the rest to the universe. You will be surprised by the change.


Emotional intelligence: Is EQ the X-Factor that makes successful leaders in the workplace?

Consider a person who strongly believes in “fighting for peace,” who under normal conditions behaves moderately, even kindly. They may possibly come to brawl with someone who threatens or challenges their ideology of peace. The reason for their strong reaction is perhaps that they cannot separate themselves from emotions and is heavily invested in their belief in peace.

The emotional dimensions they may not be able to observe are perhaps of the biases with their notion or ideology, limiting beliefs and strong feelings. These emotions drive their feelings, resulting in their behavior and the way one communicates with themselves and others. This unyielding attitude forms a big barrier in one’s personal and professional development and growth.  

Such beliefs are also the mental impressions that are left by situations, thoughts, actions, and intents which an individual has experienced or learned in the past. These are the sort of psychological imprints that are below the level of normal consciousness and are the root of our impulsive behavior. 

When you think of a ‘great leader’, who comes to your mind? 

More often than not, it is someone who is trustworthy and honest, listens to the team, makes informed decisions, connects and collaborates, make others feel comfortable. Someone who rarely loses their cool whatever the problems be. 

These are all qualities of someone with a high quotient of emotional intelligence.   

That’s why emotional intelligence is such an important skill, as you need to tune into your own emotions to tune your performance. The saying goes, “emotions drive people and people drive performance”.

Emotional intelligence is also known as EI or EQ is one of the most popular and most researched psychological hypotheses of the 21st century. But it isn’t a new subject at all. Old Indian scriptures written 4,000 years ago such as the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagwat Gita have widely covered this psychological aspect of humans. 

Thanks to scholars such as Peter Solovey and John Mayer, Dr Daniel Goleman, Dr Richard Davidson, Dr Richard Boyatzis among many others, who have made Emotional Intelligence easily understood by almost everyone today. 

“When I wrote about Emotional Intelligence across various forums and discussions there is universality about the message that we can be self-aware, that we can manage our inner lives better when we come from a poised, calm, centered place and relate to other people with empathy, with compassion. The first part — the fundamental part — of emotional intelligence is self-awareness, and I think mindfulness is applied self- awareness,” said Dr Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, on its importance. Dr Goleman, who has spent two years in India studying mindfulness, resided in McLeodganj during his India stay. 

“During my stay at McLeodganj where Dalai Lama lives, I was studying mindfulness as a practice and also theoretically because I realised there were ancient psychologies in India that understood the importance of mindfulness as the ability for us to shape our mind and not just to be passive victims of how our circumstances shape us. When I tried to bring it back to the west it’s taken a while to take off and I think there’s hard evidence base that has helped it spread so effectively,” Goleman said.   

Emotional Quotient (EQ) vs Intelligence Quotient (IQ)

Most of us are familiar with Intelligence Quotient (IQ), which is primarily associated with our logical reasoning, ability to memorise information and retrieve items from our memory. On the other hand, Emotional intelligence (EI) deepens our empathy, our ability to sense the feelings of others.

In the past, it was thought that people with a higher IQ would outperform people with a lower IQ. More recently, thousands of research papers have shown that people with higher EQ outperform in life and it contributes as a dominant factor for success.  

In my professional career of the past 30 years, I have come across many situations where leaders/managers with high IQ, technological skills and experience fail to perform when promoted to a senior leadership positions or manage bigger teams. On the other hand leaders/managers with poise, smoothly managing most complex social situations without losing their control and make people comfortable in their presence tends to lead better.  

So, what is more important – EQ or IQ? A good balance of both brings the best results for organisational performance, but it is now proven that more often it is the soft skills of knowing how to treat people that are remembered by others, rather than a particular level of intelligence. 

Emotional Intelligence has grown popular in organisations — why? 

Organisations realised that having employees and leaders with higher emotional intelligence is essential for success. Eventually, who is more likely to succeed – a leader who screams and yells at their team when situations are hot and he’s under stress, or a leader who stays in control, and calmly assesses the situation?

In fact, recruiters today rely on the value of EQ as one of the key indicators for a person’s performance, teamwork, resilience, and longevity for the position. That’s one of the biggest reasons for wide acceptance of Emotional Intelligence as a major factor facilitating to superior educational and professional performance.

Why do organizations want leaders with high EQ?

We are emotional creatures who often make decisions and respond to stimuli based on our emotions. As a result, our ability to grow in EQ has an enormous impact on managing our relationships, decision making, and identifying opportunities. Emotionally Intelligent leadership works through emotions where they use this skill to positively drive emotions in teams and organisations. These positive emotions resonate in organisational culture bringing out the best performance and holistic wellbeing for everyone.

Teamwork, critical thinking, emotional balance, authenticity with compassion and empathy are few of those traits which play an important role in the success of a good leader in today’s time. Compassion, empathy combined with other social skills are equally important aspects to look for in a leader. He who lacks an aptitude to understand himself and at the same time is unable to recognize team emotions can never produce positive results.

Organisations now look for employing a workforce with high Emotional Intelligence thus enabling them to achieve excellence rather than staying mediocre. Emotional intelligence offers a range of significant benefits for organisations:

Increased sales
Greater employee retention
A happy and productive workforce 
Enhanced customer service
Effective interpersonal relationships
Higher morale and easy working environment 
Better communication
Unique business branding

What makes up Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence is a skill that allows us to access emotional data in two ways:

  1. Inside World (Intrapersonal): Recognise, understand and manage our own emotions
  2. Outside World (Intrapersonal) : Recognise, understand and influence the emotions of others

Pillars of emotional intelligence 

Four specific character traits that define our level of Emotional Intelligence are Self Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness and Relationship Management :

Self-awareness/emotional self-awareness

Self-awareness is the first step in the journey towards emotional intelligence. It’s about paying attention to our own self, observing our thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, habits, reactions and  behaviour.  


Here we learn to recognise and regulate feelings, manage the way in which we communicate those feelings and emotions to others. The ability to keep disruptive emotions and impulses in check and maintain our effectiveness under stressful or hostile conditions is an essential part of self-management. It’s also an ability to recognise, generate and use emotions in cognitive tasks such as problem solving and creativity.  

Social awareness

Social awareness is an ability to read and understand emotions and feelings of others. It manifests three main human abilities: empathy, organisational awareness and service orientation.These abilities give people an awareness and sensitivity toward others’ emotions, needs and concerns. This skill comes with an additional ability where one can read nonverbal cues and facial expressions helping build a genuine understanding and true compassion for others that promotes to trustworthy relationships. 

It is even more important in profession wherever high human interactions are needed such as judges, lawyers, police,doctors, armed forces, etc.

Recently, I was training 55 young and senior police officers at one of the largest Police training Academy in the country. They showed great improvement in their leadership skills and emotional awareness after four days of back to back Emotional Intelligence training.

I have personally experienced that leaders with this sensitivity perform far superior than others and they play a critical role in organisational team performance with greater understanding and genuine compassion for others. 

Relationship management

Our failure or success depends when we collaborate and cooperate with others, hence relationship management plays an extremely important role in achieving personal and professional success.Relationship Management is one of the most critical social skills and draws a more intricate picture. Effectiveness of our relationships fulcrums on our ability to understand and fine-tune ourselves towards the emotions of other people. Our inability to control our emotional outbursts or lack of empathy towards others, reduces our chances for an effective relationships. As an effective leader, you will need to cultivate emotional ability to impact or convince people, foster long term support, be able to manage conflicts, find solutions and inspire teams. One needs to cultivate the following skills in order to build an effective relationship management. 

The good news is that Emotional Intelligence is like a muscle and with training it can be built and enhanced gradually. Emotional Intelligence and mindfulness improve your ability to lead and manage our own self and others more effectively to live a healthy, progressive and joyful life.