Almost a year on from the launch of the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030, hoteliers in Qatar gathered at the fourth edition of the Hotelier Middle East Qatar Hospitality Summit to discuss the challenges they face as supply floods the market, and visa restrictions and staffing issues remain complex
The Hotelier Middle East: Qatar Hospitality Summit 2015, which took place on April 22, 2015 at Grand Hyatt Doha, brought together 157 general managers, corporate hoteliers and heads of department from Qatar’s hotels and resorts.
The fourth edition of the event featured a strong line-up of Qatar’s hospitality leaders who discussed the most pressing issues facing the industry almost a year on from the launch of the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030.
Attracting the best in the world to Qatar isn’t an issue for those in sectors such as engineering and healthcare. But in hospitality, staff are often attracted by what they consider exotic locations. Some of the issues faced by the HR and recruitment teams in Qatar properties are shared with other GCC countries. But a few things are particular to Qatar.
Strict visa rules were cited as one of the biggest barriers to recruiting the best talent. with mention given to the Kafala laws and NOCs as well as only allowing a certain number of recruits from certain countries.
Many workers in the hospitality industry from countries with less expensive labour, may have never lived away from home, which is another challenge the panelists referred to.
“When we recruit candidates, we’re looking for a high level of adaptability, particularly as many in the hospitality industry have never lived overseas,” said Lynne Inciong, HR manager at Crowne Plaza Doha — The Business Park.
All of our panelists said that they work hard to make sure their people feel as at home as possible in Doha — from their living accommodation to leisure activities organised within the hotel group.
Adham El Sebaey, general manager of Hilton Hotel, Doha, said, “Everyone in Doha is an expat and is away from their home country so our goal as human resources, recruiters and managers, is to create a home-away-from-home environment.
Basel Jabri, HR manager of Grand Hyatt, echoes this, saying: “Once the staff are here in Doha, we work hard to provide them with the right environment so that they’re happy. Taking care of them and fulfilling recruitment promises is important.”
Looking after staff once they are on board is one thing, but how do Doha hoteliers source good talent?
Sebaey said: “Hilton is a big name globally in our industry, so it’s easy to attract talent generally. However, Doha can be a harder sell as people aren’t sure what to expect. We’ve been successful, even when competing with Dubai or Abu Dhabi, which people have heard of more often.
Fostering brand loyalty is also key in competitive market like Doha, so how is this done? “We look for people who are passionate about hospitality, not just looking for any job; people who are keen to stay and grow their entire career, whether that’s starting from an entry-level position or someone who has studied hospitality,” said Hassan Hassan, director of HR for Mövenpick Hotel West Bay.