With the hospitality sector constantly evolving, what are hospitality employees looking for in an employee? Capital Hotel School recently chatted with local hotel group Fortis Hotels, Austria-based Hotel Goldener Berg, and local D&K Hospitality Consultants, to find out which fundamental qualities and characteristics they look for in a potential hospitality employee.

They’re looking for an attitude – but the good kind:

Sometimes it may not necessarily only be about the skill set and experience in the hospitality industry. It’s clear from the feedback from the three hospitality establishments that – much like a CV cover letter, a candidate’s attitude will encourage potential employers in the hospitality industry to ‘read further’.

Sandra Masson, Sales & Marketing Director of Fortis Hotel Group says that by attitude, she means that she looks for passion and willingness to grow and learn, and considers a candidate’s ability to be able to adapt to the logical and methodical internal processes that align to the businesses objectives as key qualities to look out for when interviewing candidates.

Internationally, Daniela Pfefferkorn from Hotel Goldener Berg in Lech, Austria looks for potential employees who demostrate kindness and politeness, who is a team player and eager to work.

Don Elliot, an independent hospitality consultant (D&K Hospitality Consultants) looks more closely at how a candidate conducts themselves – what body language they use, how self confident they are and whether they use eye contact in addition to a great attitude, sense of humour and attentive communication skills.

Soft skills and experience– it’s more than just the qualification

Although the pertinent experience level can motivate whether an individual is able to climb up the proverbial hospitality ladder, Elliot goes as far as to say that skills can be taught but it’s how the individual’s character is best suited to a specific hospitality role that is of far greater significance. Elliot further highlights high energy, flexibility, independence and particular personality traits like passion and an out-going personality, that influence how quickly an individual can work their way into a management position.

Daniella Pfefferkorn from Hotel Goldener Berg says although some experience is required, a candidate’s references from previous employers are as important. Relevant training and hospitality knowledge is obviously fundamental for any candidate as they start their hospitality career journey, however, the length of service in a specific role plus the areas of expertise like management, strategic planning and financial skills will be evaluated for management promotions.

According to all three respondents, aside from being 100% committed to guest satisfaction and the ability to put the customer or guests first, another key component in identifying good hospitality candidates is astute organisational skills, paying a meticulous amount of attention to detail and understanding the relationship between results driven financial savvy and guest gratification.

If you don’t love it, don’t do it:

Hospitality is one industry where this saying may ring truer than in any other career. “Working in hospitality is a lifestyle, not just a job,” says Elliot. Having to be as adaptable, as humble and as committed requires passion and that passion is what makes people in the hospitality industry successful.

International vs local recruitment:

Interestingly when questioned on whether hotels prefer to employ local or International candidates – aside from the local BEE requirements, these hotels preferred local candidates as their cultural and area-based knowledge plus linguistic knowledge always prove advantageous. Danilella Pfefferkorn from Hotel Goldener Berg says local, Austrian employees are harder to find these days in tourism. They currently employ staff from 14 different countries!