Hospitality risk management: The three-legged stool of memorable first impressions

Published on Wed, 08/05/2015 - 00:42
hospitality schools management

In the hospitality industry, your employees are your brand. With so many employees having a direct impact on the customer experience, the chances for failure are multiplied exponentially. Even one employee-guest encounter gone wrong can negatively impact your business.

With that kind of pressure on your frontline, you need more than just workers – you need personalities.

But finding those personalities is a challenge. Yes, it’s true the industry has added 355,000 jobs in the past year, and has increased by 1.6 million jobs since January 2010 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). But there are still millions of Americans unemployed, so any job opening is likely to generate a flood of resumes. With no shortage of under- and over-qualified job hunters, employee turnover is high – and that can be a serious drain on customer satisfaction, team morale, and your bottom line.

So what’s the secret to finding those best personalities and creating a memorable frontline for your brand?

Think of it as a three-legged stool: hiring, training, and retention. Here are a few tips to make sure your customers’ first impressions of your business are always standing on solid ground.


  • Cast a wide net when recruiting. Ask current employees for referrals, have a Careers page on your website, post position(s) on industry niche job boards, and consider college placement services or temp agencies that work with people familiar with your niche.
  • Develop job descriptions that are complete, accurate, detailed, and reflective of not only the required skills, but also the type of personality you want.
  • When it comes time to interview, do it creatively yet consistently to draw out each candidate’s personal strengths while still having a solid baseline for comparing your prospects. Look beyond experience, credentials, and technical proficiencies and find out how they think and perform.
  • Don’t forget careful screening; with many employees having access to guests’ personal information and possessions, you need people you can trust implicitly, so conduct thorough background and reference checks, drug tests, and pre-screening interviews.
  • Finally, offer competitive pay and benefits packages to attract the best talent, and cater those benefits to their needs and lifestyles.


You need to provide superior training to bring out those great personalities in your new hires, get them onboard with your way of doing business, and nip any bad habits in the bud. Mentor them in your operating procedures, the specifics of the position, safety and security, and customer service expectations. Provide consistent feedback and regular learning opportunities such as supplementary classes, online training, or interactive video learning. Keep them growing, and groom your outstanding employees to be superstars.


Unhappy workers are less productive, a drain on team morale, and more likely to bail on you. So once you’ve hired and trained great personalities, how do you keep them around? Here are a few tips:

  • Offer competitive pay and a complete suite of paid and voluntary benefits
  • Provide a safe, comfortable, respectful, family atmosphere
  • Promote an atmosphere of wellness
  • Keep them busy and feeling productive
  • Regularly give feedback, recognize achievements, and address their needs
  • Provide opportunities for advancement

In the hospitality industry, you stay competitive by providing the best customer experience. Make sure your hiring, training, and retention practices are exceptional, and you’ll be creating a memorable impression with your customers and controlling your risk.

Need advice about protecting your hospitality business? Talk to the hospitality insurance experts at Heffernan.