Hotel tours woo potential employees with bed-making, cocktail-mixing workshops

The housekeeper of Lloyd's Inn, Dolly Tang, shows how a bed in a hotel is made.
The housekeeper of Lloyd's Inn, Dolly Tang, shows how a bed in a hotel is made. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Housekeeping manager, Eric Tan, shows how a tatami bed is made.
Housekeeping manager, Eric Tan, shows how a tatami bed is made. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - While their work typically goes unnoticed, housekeepers at boutique hotel Lloyd's Inn came under the scrutiny of a group of guests on Saturday (Oct 14).

As they expertly fitted and smoothed out fresh bed linen, the hotel's housekeeping manager Eric Tan gave a running commentary to the observers standing around, explaining the ins and outs of the job.

In two hour-long tours on Saturday, Lloyd's Inn gave curious members of the public a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse into the operations at the 34-room hotel along Lloyd Road.

The hotel, along with 21 others, are taking part in the Open Hotels Weekend programme, which is being held this weekend and the next.

The initiative is organised for the first time by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), the Singapore Hotel Association and the hotel industry. It is part of a broader Hotel Careers Campaign launched in July, that aims to raise awareness about hotel jobs and careers.

The open houses seek to provide students, job-seekers and the public a first-hand look at the functions in the hotel industry, from food and beverage to front desk service, in the hope of inspiring more to join the expanding sector.

Ms Ong Huey Hong, director of Hotel and Sector Manpower at STB, said the growing supply of hotel rooms in Singapore means a larger workforce is required.

As of end-December (2016), there were 63,850 hotel rooms islandwide, which marked a jump of 2,942 rooms, or 4.8 per cent, from 2015.

Ms Ong said about 1,600 new hotel rooms have been added this year (2017), and with a few more properties expected to open, this number will grow. In addition, hotel occupancy has remained "healthy" at an average of 85 per cent in the last few years, she added.

"The challenge for us is how do we attract people into the industry, because when you open a hotel, you definitely need to have (a) workforce, and existing hotels also need to fill up some of their positions."

Like other service-driven industries, hotels face a manpower crunch. Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, for instance, has about 200 vacancies, mainly in F&B service, culinary and housekeeping, said its area director of human resources, Ms Ong Eng Hwee.

The hotel also has to cope with an annual attrition rate of around 22 to 25 per cent. "More new hotels are opening, hence staff have more options. In addition, we have experienced some staff joining other industries, for example, banking and retail," she said.

Hotels such as Lloyd's Inn and Shangri-La are hoping that the Open Hotels Weekends will interest more to join the industry.

Mr Kelvin Soh, hotel manager, Lloyd's Inn, said: "One misconception is that people do not want to join a service-based industry as they think it's all about being at the beck and call of guests.

"On the contrary, it is about appreciating good service, being mindful of one's behaviour and courtesy to others... and engaging (with) guests," Mr Soh added.

STB's Ms Ong said there is a mistaken belief that a hotel job equates to a housekeeping job. But there are other professionals such as digital marketeers and asset managers and, in hotel restaurants, positions for chefs and captains, she said.

More than 1,200 people have signed up for The Open Hotels Weekends tours, exceeding the 1,000 spots available. The tours also comprise a hands-on element - participants at The Warehouse Hotel, for example, will go through a cocktail-making session next weekend.

After the tour, undergraduate Felicia Wang, 21, who studies hospitality business at the Singapore Institute of Technology, said: "I'll look to do my internship in the hotel sector, preferably working at the front desk, which allows me to interact with guests directly."