An independent approach to hospitality recruitment

An independent approach to hospitality recruitment

Bani Haddad, founder and managing director of Aleph Hospitality

Bani Haddad, founder and managing director of Aleph Hospitality

Engage the next generation of hoteliers with exposure to business intelligence, exciting career growth, a transparent vision and shared goals, says Bani Haddad, founder and managing director of Aleph Hospitality.

As the founder of an independent hotel management company – working directly with owners to manage their hotels – I am often asked how I approach staff recruitment and retention. The assumption by some is that if the recruiter is not one of the major multinational hotel chains, staffing can be a stumbling block. While recruitment can always be challenging in this region, over the past few years, in our experience with Aleph Hospitality, we’ve found our independent management status to be incredibly advantageous.

Access to owners

Firstly, our management model, though commonplace in the US and Europe, is relatively new in the Middle East and Africa. We manage hotels for owners, either on a white label basis for unbranded hotels or by working as a third-party management company, operating international brand franchises for owners. This is exciting to hoteliers, especially those who want to get to the heart of the hospitality business and understand hotels from an asset perspective.

In a typical hotel management contract, the owners are far removed from the operation. Chances are, 99 percent of employees won’t have any contact with the owners at all. At Aleph Hospitality, it’s different. Increasingly, we find owners want more control over their asset and we therefore actively provide full transparency in the operation. Likewise, they rely on us to manage their financials and understand their business objectives and challenges, from loan negotiations to cashflow.

This provides fantastic exposure for our team to the fascinating businesses of not only hotel management, but also elements of asset management and owner relations. At the same time, everyone at Aleph Hospitality is encouraged to identify and recommend new revenue opportunities for our owners, from outside catering services to co-working spaces. This empowers staff to make a significant difference and I’m continually impressed by the ideas we receive that together, we can propose to our owners.

Exposure to brands

As well as giving our teams access to hotel owners, we are also able to give them exposure to multiple hotel brands. We have established relations and preferred terms with most of the major global hotel companies, including Marriott International, Hilton Worldwide, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, IHG and Best Western International. This offers our staff a broad experience of different brand platforms and helps develop well-rounded, flexible hoteliers.

Of course, our staff also has access to Aleph Hospitality’s own state-of-the-art, industry-leading revenue management systems, data analytics and standard operating procedures, which leverage our senior management team’s extensive experience working within global multinationals. Our regional experience in the Middle East and Africa is also an asset, as we understand everything from the market dynamics to the expat way of life, meaning we can easily relate to our people.

Career progression

In addition, we’re in the unique position of being able to cluster roles across the geographies in which we operate. This streamlines overheads for our owners dramatically and also offers exciting career progression to our people. Just a few weeks ago, we promoted the financial controller and executive chef of our hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to cluster positions also overseeing our new hotel in Nairobi, Kenya. They will remain based in Addis Ababa and commute between the two cities, overseeing the operation of their respective departments in both hotels. I’m thrilled to be able to offer this opportunity, especially to the next generation of hoteliers looking to push themselves, grow and develop. It’s a model I see huge potential for in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, where we are currently in discussions for several hotel conversions and new openings.

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In-house training

Like all good hotel management companies, we invest heavily in staff retention and development, a department overseen by Estelle Chambost, VP, Human Resources. With a background in senior regional HR roles with hotel companies including Accor and Hilton, Estelle is committed to developing career paths that inspire individuals. She lives by the mantra ‘life is about learning and sharing what we learn’, and it’s this passion for advancement that we strive to instill in our teams.

One of the main things we do is to train our managers and supervisors well. By doing so, they will be able to train their teams and support those with high potential to grow their careers. Well-rounded managers, who are not only technical experts but leaders and coaches, will be able to retain team members who are confident in what they do, work to high quality standards and trust the company they work for.

We believe that maintaining a balance in our engagement drivers is key. Paying a high salary will help to attract and retain people for a while, but it won’t guarantee engagement if the job is not challenging or meaningful. At the same time, a challenging job with inadequate remuneration will not retain the employee. This is why we aim to achieve a constructive balance between remuneration and learning, establish meaningful roles and create a positive working environment.

A shared vision

When it comes to creating ‘meaning’ for our staff, I strongly believe people need to buy into the vision of the company they work for. At Aleph Hospitality, we are firmly focused on changing how hotels in the Middle East and Africa are operated, by providing world-class independent hotel management services that drive revenue and enhance asset value. We are transparent with our colleagues, brand partners and owners about our ambitious goal to operate 35 hotels in the Middle East and Africa within the next five years. With nine hotels already in our portfolio and numerous negotiations underway, we know we are well on the way to making this a reality. We’re committed to our vision; our team is excited by our goal and together, I know we will make it happen.

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