These days, most hotel managers agree that it's easier to fill rooms with guests than it is to find the workers to serve those guests once they arrive.
Human resources officials with Schaumburg, Ill.-based Hostmark Management Group, for example, knew they had their work cut out for them when it came to finding 125 employees for the Santa Clara, Calif., Hilton.
"It's right smack in the middle of Silicon Valley," observes M. Christine Miller, vice president of human resources at Hostmark. In this wealthy tech mecca, where even highly paid dot.com workers have a hard time finding housing, securing hotel employees was doubly difficult. Hotel managers took an aggressive approach to marketing the property to prospective employees.
"We hired a good core of staff managers," says Miller. "They brought people with them - people who had worked with them in the past at other properties. We turned them all into recruiters."
Luckily, the hotel is very close to public transportation, including a light rail system. Recruiters were thus able to target more distant areas for lower-paid employees. Fanning out into the community, they posted flyers at supermarkets, placed newspaper advertisements and even worked with churches and colleges.
"Some of it's was word of mouth," says Miller. "All of the managers are constantly recruiting. I was talking to the HR manager, and every time he went to Home Depot he talked to the cashiers about whether they liked their jobs. He finds people who have that special quality of giving good service."
When recruiters spotted a likely prospect at another job, they would often hand the prospect a "you caught my eye" card. These cards invited the prospective employees to apply at the hotel because they possessed that "special quality" recruiters look for in new staff members.
Thanks to these efforts, the hotel is fully staffed and ready for business.
Hostmark faced a similar problem in recruiting for its Montauk, New York, property. This seasonal resort, located on the tip of Long Island, usually has about 15 to 20 permanent employees. During the high season, this number swells to more than 250 workers.
"The benefit with Montauk is that it is a seasonal area and we do have employee housing," says Miller. "The housing is important because it's difficult to attract people when you can't provide a place to live. That's a wonderful benefit."
The company actively sought workers from local colleges on Long Island and universities with hospitality programs that needed to provide internships. Recruiters also contacted international organizations that were able to import students from Europe. "Many of them wanted an internship and the experience of working in the United States," says Miller.
They were able to fully staff this property and expect to meet with similar success next summer.