Talent is top of the challenges for commercial hotel leaders in Australia


Talent: Filling Hotel Sales Roles

The hospitality industry is facing a significant talent challenge, particularly when it comes to filling hotel sales roles, especially in corporate sales. According to the leaders in Sales, Marketing, and Commercial areas in hotels and resorts in Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific, people are being offered significantly more money to move to other employers. While the senior tier seems to be stable, filling the Sales Executive and Sales Manager roles has become the most significant problem. Revenue people are also looking for 50% pay increases.

Tips for Attracting Talent

To attract talent, hoteliers need to be flexible about working conditions. The roundtable attendees suggested offering options such as:

  • working four days a week, working longer hours to reduce the number of days worked,
  • working from home 2-3 days per week
  • Making sure staff development plans are in place is also essential, as they give employees a sense of growth and progress to look forward to.
  • The group also discussed working with General Managers (GMs) to allow property-level staff to work from home one day a week.
  • The industry should work more with high school students to bring them into the hospitality industry.
  • Hoteliers need to change the image/persona of hotel staff and branding for recruitment ads and focus less on images of baristas and housekeepers when trying to attract commercial staff
  • Benchmarking salaries against competitors (similar to RGI) can also help ensure the hotel is in the right position.

Corporates and Groups

The group discussed the difficulties of getting corporates to meet in person, but travel agents and Professional Conference Organizers (PCOs) are happy to meet in person. The challenge is to encourage clients to book groups and to adapt technology to automate room listings.

Room blocks and allotments are becoming less common, with fewer companies committing to large blocks. The industry is moving toward dynamic rates, which has seen a small improvement. Hotels are trying to train and influence the newer PCO staff to adapt to technology to ensure a generational change.

China – are they coming Back?

The group discussed whether China is coming back and shared some insights. While 80% of flights volume out of Mainland China is expected to be back by the end of 2023, hotels have largely replaced the China segment, and the challenge is to fit them in. Some hotels have started implementing the necessary changes to cater to mainland Chinese guests, but others have not.

While students and apartments are seeing an uptick, leisure and groups are not yet booking. Regional properties are largely not staffed up or ready for the China market to come back.

India is Coming Back Strongly

India is coming back strongly, with a lot of visiting friends and relatives (VFR) travel. However, it is still uncertain when leisure and business travel will return.

Consumer Behaviour Summary

The group discussed current consumer behaviour, highlighting that short lead times are still prevalent. Some hotels have reintroduced Advance Purchase rates to combat this issue. The lack of domestic capacity, especially to Ayers Rock and Cairns, is restricting inbound volume from North America. This means that Americans need to fit the three destinations into a two-week vacation, making the timing of flights crucial. Too many flight cancellations are also causing frustration for travellers.

One hotelier shared that the ITOs in the US do not have enough staff to respond to all the customer inquiries coming in from Americans wanting to visit Australia, which is frustrating for the Australian accommodation market.


The talent shortage remains a significant challenge for the hospitality industry. To attract talent, hoteliers must offer flexible working conditions and development plans. The industry also needs to change the image of hotel staff and use benchmarking to ensure salaries are competitive. The group also discussed the difficulties of getting corporates to meet in person and the challenges of adapting to technology.

The roundtable also explored the status of the China market and technology around meetings and events/ groups and allotments.

Looking forward to the next meeting of the top minds in hospitality on the 30th August in Sydney.

Jackie Douglas, President

HSMAI Asia Pacific

Talent is top of the challenges for commercial hotel leaders in Australia
Talent is top of the challenges for commercial hotel leaders in Australia
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