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Spotlight on tourism and hospitality

A new initiative by Fáilte Ireland and Great Place to Work recognises best practice right across the tourism sector

“As well as chefs and staff working in restaurants and pubs, there are sales and marketing jobs, digital marketing jobs and data analytics jobs.” Photograph: iStock

“As well as chefs and staff working in restaurants and pubs, there are sales and marketing jobs, digital marketing jobs and data analytics jobs.” Photograph: iStock

 

Tourism industry companies all over Ireland participated in the inaugural Spotlight Series, a joint promotional initiative launched by Fáilte Ireland and the Great Place to Work Institute.

It shines a light on best practice across the tourism and hospitality sector, which employs 260,000 people. The industry accounts for one in 10 jobs, and is on track to create an additional 50,000 positions by 2025.

It’s also one of Ireland’s biggest industries, contributing €7.5 billion each year to the exchequer. It includes hotels, bars, B&Bs, restaurants, visitor attractions and experiences. Many are rurally based and so help to sustain communities and drive regional development countrywide.

The Spotlight Series initiative is designed to highlight excellent ‘people’ practices that exist in the sector, showcasing the industry as a key choice for talented people looking for a rewarding career.

A wide variety of tourism-related businesses participated in the inaugural competition, including the PREM Group, a hotel and hospitality management company.

It was short-listed for its human resources initiative, called ENGAGE. “This company-wide programme was launched in 2018 with the principal aim being to promote collective thinking and action amongst our talented international team,” explains Sarah Marr, group human resources manager, Ireland and UK, at PREM Group.

“ENGAGE creates a new approach to training, development and teamwork, by allowing participants to immediately apply new learning and skills while carrying out various team projects in accordance with a structured project plan. The purpose of the initiative is for teams to carry out projects that will have a positive impact on customer service, work environment, revenue or corporate social responsibility.”

In the first year of ENGAGE, 33 teams of four to six people each got involved in projects throughout its hotel properties, ranging from developing a line of in-house confectionary to creating an edible garden for guests to enjoy.

Inspired staff

Another short-listed entrant was hiking specialist Hillwalk Tours, which is based in Galway and has a staff of 27. It’s a digital tourism company that creates flexible self-guided hiking experiences in Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and Spain. It was recognised by Spotlight for the way it inspired staff by celebrating their achievements.

“At Hillwalk Tours, a big emphasis is placed on celebrating wins,” explains Eimear O’Connor, its head of human resources.

“This is carried out in a number of ways. Firstly, we have a weekly company meeting which all team members attend. A slideshow is used to display information relating to each section of the meeting and the first section is dedicated to company or team member good news.”

The staff of Hillwalk Tours: “A big emphasis is placed on celebrating wins.”
The staff of Hillwalk Tours: “A big emphasis is placed on celebrating wins.”

This can include big or small wins for the company in the past week, from the launch of a new website to getting featured on TV, to team members celebrating work anniversaries. It can also celebrate big or small personal wins, such as a holiday someone is just back from, a new car they’ve purchased or an engagement announcement.

Twice a year, Hillwalk Tours awards Core Value Champions. “This involves a voluntary committee of team members being formed every six months to discuss the Core Value nominations that were made in that six-month period and agree which nomination was the best example of living each of our values. At one of our quarterly company townhall meetings, a member of the committee outlines the chosen champion for each core value and why they were selected,” she says.

‘Creating happy experiences’

“We also celebrate our Core Purpose each year through company trips and activities which have the aim of creating happy experiences for employees. These have included team hiking trips, survival courses and an overnight stay in a hotel, including food and activities.”

All are examples of the kinds of good people practice that exist in hospitality. “Tourism is full of great people doing great things. We are a people business and the Spotlight initiative is designed to showcase the excellent people and practices to be found right across the industry,” says Paul Hayden, head of tourism careers at Fáilte Ireland.

“It’s also an opportunity to showcase the industry as a key choice for top talent looking to forge an engaging career.” That includes highlighting the variety of jobs in the sector.

“As well as chefs and staff working in restaurants and pubs, there are sales and marketing jobs, digital marketing jobs and data analytics jobs,” says Hayden.

“Tourism offers significant opportunities for people either starting out or looking for a career change, and because up to 80 per cent of tourism jobs are outside of Dublin, it’s a really nice way to work locally and avoid the commute that so many of us have to do.”