Check-it-out time: Hotels give tours to woo workers

Lloyd's Inn housekeeper Dolly Tang showing how a hotel bed is made as the public is given a glimpse of operations at the 34-room hotel.
Lloyd's Inn housekeeper Dolly Tang showing how a hotel bed is made as the public is given a glimpse of operations at the 34-room hotel.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Shangri-La hotel, held a wedding floral arrangement workshop as part of the Open Hotels Weekends initiative.
Shangri-La hotel, held a wedding floral arrangement workshop as part of the Open Hotels Weekends initiative.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Programme lets public go behind the scenes in hope that more will join expanding sector

While their work typically goes unnoticed by most, housekeepers at boutique hotel Lloyd's Inn came under the scrutiny of a group of guests yesterday.

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 yesterday, Lloyd's Inn gave curious members of the public a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse into the operations at the 34-room hotel in Lloyd Road.

The hotel, along with 21 others, is taking part in the Open Hotels Weekends programme, which is being held this weekend as well as 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.

  • 63,850

    Total number of hotel rooms as of the end of last year, an increase of 4.8 per cent from 2015.

As of end-December last year, there were 63,850 hotel rooms islandwide, marking 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, and with a few more properties expected to open, this number will grow. Also, 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 to 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, the culinary section and housekeeping, said its area director of human resources, Ms Ong Eng Hwee.

The hotel also has to find ways to cope with an annual attrition rate of around 22 per cent 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 Open Hotels Weekends will interest more to join the industry.

Mr Kelvin Soh, hotel manager at Lloyd's Inn, said: "One misconception as to why people do not want to join a service-based industry is that 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... and engaging (with) guests."

STB's Ms Ong said there is a mistaken belief that a hotel job equates to a housekeeping job.

There are other professionals such as digital marketers and asset managers, as well as positions for chefs and captains in hotel restaurants, 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 yesterday's 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."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 15, 2017, with the headline 'Check-it-out time: Hotels give tours to woo workers'. Print Edition | Subscribe