At the onset of each new season, hotels, resorts, and even restaurants, the heartbeat of the tourism industry, express their struggles in finding personnel. This problem is not just a numerical imbalance; it reflects a fundamental issue within the business.
If we look at the summaries of the frequent statements in the news, several key issues emerge: the lack of interest in the industry by the new generation, economic conditions, insufficient salaries, working conditions, accommodation provided to staff, short-term employment, and the lack of year-round constant job opportunities. These factors are often highlighted in the contents of news reports.
In the past...
Supply and demand were two crucial elements that proved to be significant in every aspect of life. If we delve into history, being a part of the tourism and hotel industry meant being part of a profession that garnered high income, especially in the 60s and 70s with a percentage-based earning system that valued knowledge and professionalism. Working in a good international hotel in Istanbul would grant advantages even while dealing with banking transactions or even getting high-limit credit cards.
For instance, being a service staff member at the Istanbul Hilton meant preparing many meals listed in the menu in front of guests on flambe carts or doing 'carving' at the table. Education was essential; employees would advance through positions via exams. Diction and language skills were crucial. Even for positions that are considered moderate today, employees would be sent abroad for training and, subsequently, taking exams to advance in positions. In short, the increase in income associated with a position had significance, and employees performed their duties with this awareness and enthusiasm.
Supply comes into play here. With the increase in hotels, sufficiently knowledgeable managerial candidates and even mid-level managers began dispersing to the newly opened hotels. Some good hoteliers started working as ExPats abroad. Universities of that era provided good education, often supported by vocational internships.
With the ever-increasing number of hotels and the addition of new ones daily, meaning the increase in demand, the financial attractiveness of the industry fails to be as appealing. The effects of the new generation's outlook on the profession reduce the interest in this field. Added to that is the diminishing possibility of career advancement for employees and, in some cases, the financial remuneration not being as different as it used to be for the responsibilities of a new position.
For instance, the salary of a restaurant chef may not be significantly different from that of a waiter, which genuinely diminishes interest. Does the education provided in universities and mandatory internships persist? Yes, it does. However, now, businesses tend to perceive this workforce as low-cost or free labor while the intended purpose should be education, burdening them with all the menial tasks.
The Butterfly Effect...
A significant problem that escapes notice is the lack of qualified personnel, which may not just be an issue of today but could surface as a potential crisis in the future. In the near future, filling critical positions such as hotel managers, general managers, and food and beverage managers will increasingly become more challenging. In other words, finding qualified and experienced managers will be tougher. Currently, the scarcity of qualified personnel coming up through the ranks will undoubtedly lead to a lack of experienced managers in the coming years. It might have already brought about this effect if you compare it with the past.
Various scenarios can be envisioned here. Some positions might vanish into history with the automation brought about by technology. However, in the long run, this solution will not be sufficient. Managers with less experience could jeopardize the quality of the establishments and their reputation. As guest satisfaction declines, competitiveness diminishes. Furthermore, the gaps in leadership positions crucial for the future of the industry might even threaten the sustainable growth of tourism.
t's imperative to remember that tourism is not just about swimming in blue waters and sunbathing; it's also an economic cycle. Ignoring these problems might leave the tourism sector facing problems in the future.
In short, the field of hotel management needs to become attractive again. The shortage of qualified personnel is not just a matter of human resources but also a significant threat to service quality and the future of the sector. It's essential for tourism stakeholders to develop long-term strategies to solve this issue through education, incentives, and better working conditions. However, it's also crucial for hotels to invest in 'people' by abandoning the mentality of minimum service standards.