The United Arab Emirates’ Hospitality and Tourism sector is making its mark on world tourism and is all set to be gearing up its pace with Expo 2020, estimating the industry will serve over 20 million visitors in the years 2020-2021. This mega event will not only create an effective economic wave the in Emirates’ economy, it will also have a significant impact on the GCC economy as well.
There will be many new hotels and hospitality businesses expanding, and thousands of new rooms added, in the GCC countries in general and the UAE in particular. This influx of new hotels, serviced apartments, restaurants and retail businesses will be hiring hundreds of thousands of employees from around the world, which could see a mix of hundreds of nationalities serving international travellers to create a par excellence experience for the visitors during the six months of the Expo 2020 exhibition.
Whether we’re talking about luxury hotels or budget hotels, gourmet restaurants or fast food restaurants, if we don’t have properly trained manpower with the right attitude, the beautiful hotels and plush restaurants are meaningless to visitors. The real soul of hospitality businesses is their people, otherwise those glamorous buildings and marvelous structures have no attraction for guests and visitors.
If we look into the overall GCC hospitality and tourism industry’s growth and development for the next three to five years, the region will be required to employ more than two million workers to serve the influx of tourists. The question is this: Will it be possible to find trained service oriented professional staff and supervisors to cater for the needs of these visitors, and to provide them with the expected high level of service? There are few tourism and hospitality institutes in the region and those are not producing enough industry professionals to fulfill the industry demand. Millions of expatriate workers will be needed.
Providing soft skills training to new hires and existing staff is essential in developing a workforce competent to meet and exceed guest expectations. The hotel companies do provide basic hands-on training to their staff, to understand the service culture of that particular property, but the managers do not have time to follow up on training and progression. The outsourcing of training to recognised hospitality institutes to develop skills such as: customer service, communications, leadership, empowerment, creativity and innovation will be necessary to build a sense of ownership among employees.
The hotel management companies should consider outsourcing training responsibilities to the hospitality and tourism industry’s training and educational institutes to overcome the service related challenges, and especially to train the newly hired expatriate work force from under developed countries, in order to make them understand and meet the international guest and visitors’ expectations.
Dr. Shahid Khan,
Certified Hotel Administrator, Program coordinator, Hospitality Management Program
MENA College of Management