The most important skills employees need in the hospitality industry

The hospitality industry is one of the world’s oldest, largest, and fastest-growing industries. The World Travel and Tourism Council reports that this sector supports one in ten jobs worldwide and generates 10.4% of world GDP.

In the United Kingdom, the hospitality industry is the 3rd biggest employer, generating over £72bn directly and £86bn indirectly to the economy.

When industries thrive, competition is fierce. What separates thriving hospitality entities from those that fail is their ability to create exceptional customer service experiences.

The customer’s experience is crucial

Once upon a time, price is all that it took to secure customer loyalty. This is no longer the case as there are now more options to choose from. Today's customers have elevated their expectations, and they expect companies to keep up. Following a poor customer experience, 89 percent of consumers have no problem switching to a competitor.

Important skills employees need in the hospitality industry

Two-thirds of a company’s competitive edge is based on the experience they deliver to their customers. As a manager, you're responsible for hiring employees with the right combination of skills and talents. The following are the three skills you need to look for during the interview process.

Effective communication skills

Communication is the most used skill in the hospitality industry, as it's at the heart of almost all customer interactions. It's essential that employees know how to relay and receive information effectively, because how a customer feels they're being treated accounts for 70 percent of their buying experience.

Employees with good communication skills know what needs to be said and are good at picking up non-verbal cues. When they speak, they are confident, respectful, and concise. They also have good active listening skills because communication is a two-way process.

Managers can assess interviewees communication skills by paying attention to how they speak and observing how they listen. Does the candidate express themselves confidently and clearly, or are they rambling? Are they demonstrating good listening skills by answering the question that was asked? Does the voice in the cover letter sound like the person in front of you?

Problem-solving skills

Problem-solving skills are essential for hospitality employees, as customer complaints are inevitable. 94 percent of customers will continue doing business with a company if their problems are solved. If problems are ignored, that number drops to 69 percent.

Employees with good problem-solving abilities use analytical, innovative, and creative thinking skills to help them identify, respond, and resolve issues promptly. To gauge a candidate's problem-solving ability, managers can ask questions along the following lines.

● Describe how you handled a stressful work situation you came across?

● Give us an example of a situation which you would do differently if given another chance.

● What specific process or steps do you follow while solving a problem?

Positive demeanour

The ability to stay cheery and friendly in a crisis is an essential skill to look for when interviewing, because this trait ultimately dictates how a person will act when you’re relying on them most. Reports show that 68 percent of customers rate their service experiences as positive if the employee had a pleasant disposition.

An employee's attitude will affect how they treat and interact with your customers and other team members. Staff members with a positive outlook perform their tasks to a higher standard and are more committed to customer service. Attitude is also tied to humility, honesty, perseverance, initiative, and determination.

Attitude can be tough to assess during the interview as most people are on their best behaviour. Body language can some give clues as to the interviewee's attitude. Managers can also ask the following questions that relate to a candidate’s approach in adverse circumstances.

● Describe a time you made a mistake and had to admit to it. What did you do?

● Can you describe a past situation at work that led you to grow as a person?

● Can you tell me about a time when you were faced with a significant obstacle (work or otherwise) and how you overcame it?

Training in the hospitality industry

The importance of training both new and experienced your employees cannot be over-emphasised. The UK hospitality sector has an employee turnover rate of 30 percent. Poor on the job training is one of the reasons given for staff leaving. Having employees continually coming and going disrupts an establishment's ability to create remarkable customer experiences.

Training programs ensure that companies stay on top of changing customer desires and remain relevant in a highly competitive industry. Training is also what turns good hires into engaged, high-performing employees. These are the only types of employees who can ensure that guests receive consistently excellent experiences.

Managers should view training as a smart investment. When done right, it pays off. Companies with comprehensive training programs have a 218 percent higher income per employee and a 24% percent higher profit margin. Training that grows these skills in your hospitality employees, combined with recruitment that focuses on finding these skills in new hires, will set your business up to prosper and grow.

About the author

Jake Waller is a wordsmith who plies his trade here at Findmyshift. He uses his background in engineering to simplify complex topics for a variety of tech firms. When not writing for Findmyshift he blogs under a pseudonym at My Name is Skylance and has a passion for creative writing and editing, about which he's always talking on Twitter.