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Exploring Top Hotel HR Trends: Insights from the New York City Women of Hospitality

Last week AHLA shared the results of a survey from January that 67% of surveyed hotels report staffing shortages. Which is why it is so timely that the New York City Women of Hospitality (NYCWOH) gathered a panel of HR pros to discuss at the Walker Hotel! On the panel: Casey Leigh Thompson, Director of Human Resources, W New York Union Square, Frances Holland, Senior Director- People + Culture @ CAVA, and Magalie Pognon, Director of Human Resources, Marriott International, with talented host (and NYCWOH co-founder) Joli Specia, Assistant Director of People and Learning at Pendry Hotels & Resorts.


If you are wondering what the best and brightest are thinking when it comes to hotel human resource challenges, here are the key takeaways from the Big Apple, plus advice on how to navigate your own career!


New York Women of Hospitality

What's HOT in Hotel HR?


Here are three strategies that are bringing results with recruiting challenges.


1. Leveraging skills from outside hospitality to bring new talent into our industry. When addressing those who are outside the hospitality industry, looking to break in, or those who want to career pivot, talented recruiters see how a candidates existing skill set can be used in a different role.  Strong candidates will be able to explain how their skills are applicable to a different field, and give examples.

2. Relationships are key to referrals for finding new talent. Francis Holland, Senior Director of People & Culture for CAVA explained that establishing relationships in a variety of industries and reviewing referrals are key to talent acquisition strategies for her company.

3. Creating an environment of balance and care for employees starts with leadership, and is a key selling point for recruiting. It has to be visible on all levels. From the care perspective, several panelists mentioned that companies’ total compensation packages take into account, now more than ever in a post Covid world various health, mental health, and lifestyle benefits to provide tools and support to help create a healthy life. In terms of recruiting, candidates look for company values as well as benefits when making decisions.  


Left to right, Eric Amador (Senior Consultant Galleon Advisors), Kat Woods (NYCWOH Executive Director), Sharon Mussalli (CEO of Now This), Shaun Jenkins
Left to right, Eric Amador (Senior Consultant Galleon Advisors), Kat Woods (NYCWOH Executive Director), Sharon Mussalli (CEO of Now This), Shaun Jenkins

4 Tips for those looking to boost their hospitality careers (umm, all of us!?!)


1. Having a mentor in hospitality is crucial for navigating the intricacies of the industry. Gaining valuable insights, and receiving personalised guidance to accelerate professional growth and success. If you can't find a mentor in your company, find outside resources and networking groups like NYCWOH, Women in Travel Thrive, Inspire Women in Hospitality, or others.

2. Advocating for yourself in the workplace is vital. It may feel awkward at first, bit learning how to speak up for yourself and your interests is a top skill you must nurture. When you advocate for yourself, it signifies a dedication to personal development and progression. Voicing interest in roles that resonate with your passions not only highlights your enthusiasm but also guarantees acknowledgment of your abilities and ambitions within the company.


By actively engaging in self-advocacy, you empower yourself to shape your professional journey and contribute meaningfully to your workplace.  Though it was noted by the panelists—know that when you share, sometimes you only receive a person’s opinion, and they may have their own intentions in their best interest.  Communicate and share with those you trust and have your best interests at heart.


3. Build connections with colleagues and guestsGenuine connections with colleagues and guests, fosters loyalty and positive feedback. Magalie Pognon, Director of HR at W Hoboken, stressed sharing your story and being yourself said, “It’s ok to tell people how great you are, because who else is going to tell your story?”  Casey Thompson, Director of HR at W Union Square and former Broadway Star explained, “Don’t make decisions based on fear. The magic happens outside of our comfort zones”.


4. Be adaptable in the face of change. Embrace moments of adversity as opportunities for growth and learning in your career journey.



How to Get Involved with NYCWOH


Wish you were there? Get involved! New York City Women of Hospitality (NYCWOH) is happy to have new members and is planning more events. NYCWOH co-founder Joli Specia shares more about the inspiration for the org, "When Tiffany Pera and I co-founded NYCWOH in 2018 the intention was to be an approachable, down to earth organisation with the belief that by empowering each other, we all rise.  Our approach is less stuffy and not as corporate as other nonprofits and networking groups and has a collaborative approach in terms of topics and interests for future events."  


The NYCWOH mission statement: We are dedicated to creating a supportive community of women and allies that fosters growth, education, networking, and professional development. We believe that by empowering women, we elevate the entire industry to new heights of excellence and innovation.


To become a member or for more information, email them connect@nycwoh.org.






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