Booking up quality staff
Not so long ago, there was little in the way of choice for the discerning visitor to Hong Kong seeking accommodation outside the main hotel centres on Hong Kong Island's north side or in Tsim Sha Tsui.
The assumption was that tourists and business travellers wanted to stay in the thick of things and were willing to pay a premium for rooms in these areas. This rationale is now being challenged as a number of hoteliers cast their nets further afield.
"The choice of hotel location is a straightforward business decision," says Sylvia Chung, general manager of hotel development and operations at the L'hotel Management Company, a member of the Chinachem Group. "Our L'hotel properties offer affordable luxury, comfort, convenience and connectivity, and are built where the business opportunities and potential markets are."
L'hotel operates four hotels in Hong Kong, including the L'hotel Nina et Convention Centre in Tsuen Wan and the newly opened L'hotel elan in Kwun Tong. It is currently recruiting for its management trainee programme, as well as for other junior and supervisory positions in its various hotel properties.
"The five-star hotel market is becoming saturated in Hong Kong as more and more five-star hotels are being built in prime areas. The development of better transportation networks and infrastructure has meant that more travellers are willing to stay in non-traditional tourist areas that have good accessibility," Chung says.
The L'hotel elan in Kwun Tong is in one such area. The renaissance of this old industrial district is already well underway and Chung sees her group's new 254-room hotel playing its part in the regeneration.
She predicts a bright future for Hong Kong's hotel industry, with demand rising for small and medium-sized boutique-style business hotels located along the major transportation lines.
There are, though, some clouds on the horizon. "Manpower is now the major challenge for hotel operators. Given the numbers of hotels opening in Hong Kong and neighbouring cities, the minimum-wage policy in Hong Kong, and other related issues, the manpower challenge is going to intensify," she says.
"Competition for talent is very keen. Hotel operators require both the right quality and quantity of frontline and supporting staff. Hotels have to keep reviewing salary levels and employee benefits to stay competitive.
"We successfully retain our staff through offering attractive salaries, year-end bonuses, training initiatives and education subsidies, favourable working conditions, and by providing fast-track career opportunities and development."
L'hotel runs management training and development programmes that last for 18 to 24 months.
"A diploma or degree in a hotel course is preferred, but the essentials are the applicant's passion for customer care and a strong interest in the hotel industry," Chung says.
"On completion of the programme, the graduate should be able to get into a junior management or supervisory position in the salary range of HK$15,000 to HK$25,000."