I was first promoted to general manager at the age of thirty three and was privileged to work in an expanding new brand that in which I had helped open the first hotel as EAM and Food and beverage Manager. It boasted four hundred and twenty rooms and countless restaurants and bars. Opening the hotel was exhaustive but hugely rewarding in lessons learned on the job.

Fortunately our managing director believed in investing in our knowledge base and scheduled many very informative and interesting seminars and lectures for the leaders in each of the hotels. Investing in the ‘line’ staff was also a priority and I believe that it was a huge part in both establishing the brand and also in the success and expansion of the chain up until today.

As the industry has evolved since those days, and the importance of cost savings has increased, the tendency to lower the training budget has also increased. But the question persists: Does investing in staff mean money lost or is there a palpable payback?

I believe that the days of working as few staff as possible as hard as possible are over. The rise of the millennial generation as the largest consumer group heralds a new era in the whole subject of guest engagement, staff culture and hotel identity and values.

The past generations have had similar needs and expectations from hotels and restaurants that they visited and stayed at, but the new generation is very different in their outlook and actions.

Just a clean, well maintained and friendly atmosphere no longer ‘cuts the cake’, and neither does an HR policy that does not recognize the needs of our diverse staff in the modern industry.

The values, needs and expectations of the ‘new guests’ necessitates changes in hotel culture and direction if continued success if desired. New strategies are required for a successful guest engagement that includes subjects that may be new to some hotels. Successful and renewed staff engagement is a prerequisite to successful guest engagement, and we all know that well worn saying that ‘happy staff makes for happy guests’. This is much more important and critical today than ever before to the well being of the property and in the end, its profits.

The search for increasing profits lies through a careful strategies in staff engagement, guest engagement, property differentiation from the generic competition and in the hotel values and culture.

Adapting to the new realities can bring huge benefits in increased revenues, cost savings and an efficient operation, while ignoring them can lead to disaster.