Tech and Talent: How Hospitality Can Embrace Automation in Hiring

Talent and turnover have always been a challenge in the hospitality industry, and this existing issue has been exacerbated in recent years.

To address this, our company spearheaded a transformative strategy in 2021 by initiating our centralized hiring program. This strategic innovation was not merely a reactive measure but a forward-thinking approach to foster sustainable growth and operational excellence across our properties. Centralizing the recruiting process for positions across multiple hotels brings with it the benefits of speed, cost savings, and consistency.

As we have continued to evolve the program, we have experimented and ultimately added advancements and improvements that leverage technology and automation to further establish these benefits in the realm of hospitality talent acquisition.

A Leap Towards Efficiency

From its inception, our centralized hiring program has dramatically streamlined the hiring process, elevated candidate quality, and notably reduced both the time and financial investments associated with talent acquisition. Initially targeting hourly positions, the program has successfully expanded its reach to include salaried managerial roles, reflecting our adaptability to the changing needs of our industry and the diverse properties under our management.

A standout achievement of the centralized talent sourcing program is the recruitment of over 1,500 candidates, underscoring the efficacy of our dedicated team and our strategic methodologies. The refined process now facilitates the transition of candidates from application to hire in less than a week, and from job requisition to hire in under 30 days. Such efficiency not only ensures our hotels are promptly and adequately staffed but also significantly bolsters our competitive stance in the talent marketplace.

Financial Advantages of Centralized Hiring

Moreover, the centralized program offers a distinct financial advantage over conventional recruitment methods. By consolidating the hiring process, we’ve effectively bypassed the need for external recruiters for the majority of positions, enabling our hotels to incur only the direct costs associated with hiring. This model has translated into substantial savings for our properties, directly benefiting our owners and stakeholders.

The TACOE (Talent Acquisition Center of Excellence) program offers significant cost savings for hotels by streamlining their recruitment processes. By handling the recruitment side of hiring, hotel operators can focus more on their day-to-day business activities. This shift in focus can lead to substantial savings, particularly because hotels often incur third-party expenses by hiring recruiters for overtime-exempt positions. By eliminating the need for external recruitment services, TACOE provides a direct cost-saving benefit to hotels, allowing them to allocate their resources more efficiently.

Although some of the savings are intangible or “soft” costs, such as improved efficiencies and reduced time spent by managers on recruitment, there are also tangible “hard” cost savings. For example, there is a significant difference in payroll costs when comparing the work done by talent acquisition specialists to that done by a general manager, emphasizing that having the right level of expertise involved in recruitment leads to more productive, quick, and effective hiring processes. This expertise not only ensures that positions are filled by suitable candidates but also contributes to overall operational efficiency.

Moreover, TACOE’s ability to rapidly fill positions-averaging 7.91 days from job posting to offer and 26.7 days from posting to the candidate starting-reduces the need for expensive temporary labor and overtime costs. This swift hiring process is particularly noteworthy in the hospitality industry, where delays in filling positions can lead to increased labor costs and reduced service quality. Through such efficiency and expertise, TACOE’s model results in cost savings on multiple fronts, from direct recruitment expenses to indirect operational costs, making it a valuable program for participating hotels.

Ensuring Consistent Candidate Experiences

Centralized talent sourcing ensures a consistent and seamless candidate experience, which is crucial for attracting top talent and fostering positive outcomes. By standardizing the recruitment process across our portfolio, we provide every candidate with an equal opportunity to understand our company’s culture, values, and expectations right from the start. This consistency helps in setting clear expectations for both parties, leading to a more engaged and informed applicant pool. Candidates receive uniform communication, undergo the same quality of assessments, and experience a cohesive journey from application to onboarding. This not only enhances the candidate’s perception of our company as a desirable and professional place to work but also significantly increases the likelihood of finding individuals who are the right fit for our culture and operational needs. The result is a more efficient hiring process, higher retention rates, and ultimately, better outcomes for our hotels and the overall guest experience.

The TACOE program plays a crucial role in enhancing consistency in the hiring process for participating hotels, which is pivotal for several reasons. Firstly, inconsistency in the hiring process can lead to significant communication breakdowns. For instance, without a uniform process, a hotel might hire someone without following the essential steps of issuing an offer letter or conducting a background check. This oversight disrupts the streamlined process that the TACOE program aims to maintain. The success of the TACOE program is evident in its outcomes, with a substantial portion of hires being facilitated directly through the program, underscoring its effectiveness in streamlining the recruitment process and ensuring all necessary pre-employment procedures are followed.

Additionally, the lack of a consistent interview and onboarding process can result in operational inefficiencies post-hire. For example, when new hires receive inconsistent information during the interview process, such as dress code policies, it leads to confusion and a lack of preparedness on their first day. This inconsistency not only affects the new employee’s integration into the company culture but also reflects poorly on the company’s organizational capabilities. The TACOE program addresses these issues by ensuring that all candidates undergo a uniform recruitment process, thus setting clear expectations from the outset and fostering a smoother transition into the company.

Additionally, the TACOE program facilitates a deep understanding of the market and available talent, which is invaluable for making informed hiring decisions. By centralizing the recruitment process, TACOE enables recruiters to develop a comprehensive understanding of the labor market, identifying the most qualified candidates based on a holistic view of the industry and specific skill requirements. This market knowledge leads to more strategic hiring decisions, ensuring that hotels not only fill positions but do so with individuals who best fit the role and the company’s needs. This level of insight is particularly beneficial in competitive or specialized job markets, where understanding subtle nuances can make a significant difference in attracting top talent.

Finally, the TACOE program enhances legal compliance and brand consistency across all hiring communications. Talent acquisition specialists are well-versed in local and state employment laws, ensuring that all job postings meet legal requirements and avoid potential legal pitfalls. Furthermore, by standardizing the branding and language used in job advertisements, the TACOE program ensures that all communication reflects the company’s values and professional standards. This uniformity not only strengthens the company’s brand identity but also attracts candidates aligned with the company’s culture and values, thereby improving the quality of applicants and ultimately, the hires.

The Technological Revolution in Hiring

The technological enhancements introduced to our system deserve special mention, as they represent a pivotal leap forward in our talent-sourcing endeavors. The overhaul of our front-end technology has enabled a seamless integration of various stages of the hiring process, from application assessment and interview scheduling to background checks, offer letter issuance, and comprehensive enterprise-level tracking. This technological leap has not only optimized the candidate journey but has also armed our team with critical insights, fostering more strategic hiring decisions and further streamlining our recruitment processes.

In the evolving talent acquisition landscape, the TACOE program stands out as a prime example of how technology can revolutionize traditional recruitment processes. The strategic overhaul of the program’s front-end technology, a move that initially seemed counterintuitive, ultimately resulted in a fully automated system that produces fast results for hotels and excellent communication with candidates. This shift from manual or hybrid processes to fully integrated, technology-driven solutions is a game-changer.

The journey to optimize recruitment technology was not about discarding existing tools but rather enhancing them to meet the unique needs of the TACOE program. By closely collaborating with technology partner Hospitality Online, we embarked on a meticulous process of identifying and filling gaps in the recruitment process. This approach was not about aggressive overhauls but rather a passionate pursuit of incremental improvements, focusing on exploiting every feature and capability offered by their ATS. The methodical, bite-sized strategy towards integration and optimization highlights a critical aspect of technological transformation: the importance of partnership between companies and technology providers. We relentlessly pursued this strategic partnership, and it led to significant improvements in recruitment processes, transforming challenges into opportunities for innovation.

Moreover, this collaboration exemplifies the critical balance between technology and human oversight. While the team achieved considerable advancements in streamlining recruitment, the ongoing presence of manual processes is evidence that technology, no matter how advanced, cannot fully replace the human element in recruitment. This balance between technological efficiency and human intuition is crucial, offering a nuanced view of how companies can navigate the complexities of modern recruitment.

General Manager and Owner Feedback

The feedback from our hotel managers and general managers has been resoundingly positive. The centralized hiring program has enabled them to devote more attention to guest experiences and associate engagement, leading to noticeable enhancements in service quality and operational efficiency. Our hotels are not merely surviving in the current climate; they are flourishing, backed by a workforce that is both engaged and well-prepared to deliver the exceptional service our brand is celebrated for.

Looking Ahead: Continuous Improvement and Innovation

Looking ahead, our centralized hiring program remains a foundational element of our strategy to attract, hire, and retain top talent within the hospitality industry. The journey from the program’s inception to its present state is a narrative of innovation, resilience, and triumph. We take pride in our accomplishments and are dedicated to further refining our processes, technology, and strategies to address the dynamic needs of the hospitality sector.

In summary, our centralized talent sourcing program has fulfilled and surpassed our expectations, setting new benchmarks for the industry and showcasing the impact of strategic innovation and commitment. We look forward to the continued success and growth that the program will bring to our company and the broader hospitality industry.

Reprinted from the Hotel Business Review with permission from

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