On the strength of rising demand and a bullish outlook for the upcoming holiday season, hiring for customer-facing roles in sales and commercial operations and other divisions is gaining momentum across the hospitality and retail sectors.
Given chains’ revenge spending and expansion plans through new outlets and inventories, hiring is surging across restaurants and hotels.
“Ahead of the festive months, we see a shortage of staff for roles in customer service and kitchens. Since the unlocking in March, recovery has exceeded pre-Covid levels in many instances and now that the festive season is around the corner, demand and consumption are expected to increase even further,” said Kabir Suri, president of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) that represents more than 500,000 restaurant operators.
“There is a talent crunch as many workers had lost their jobs during Covid-19 and went back home or changed their profession,” Suri added. “Many (restaurateurs) are now training raw talent which is a lengthier process. We are also simultaneously looking at other industries such as retail, or anything that is customer facing.”
Retailers are also feeling the pinch of reverse migration that happened during Covid-19.
“Many of them never came back. This led to a shortage of staff across segments in the retail industry as it requires a special skill set where the attitude is very important,” said Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO of Retailers Association of India (RAI). “Because retailers are witnessing growth in sales, hiring has also picked up at every level and this will continue till the festive season.”
Rajagopalan said hiring in the retail industry might cross pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year.
Nikhil Sharma, regional director for Eurasia at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, said the company is expanding its commercial team and hiring a head of sales and marketing in India, besides expanding its global sales team by adding additional resources in Bengaluru.
The hotel chain is on an “exponential growth journey” in India, according to Arif Khan, regional vice president of human resources at Hyatt, and the business is hiring employees in various roles and divisions for the commercial function.
“One of the major changes brought about by the pandemic was the digitisation of businesses, and therefore we introduced new positions in the digital and social media departments,” Khan said. “We have also created new positions in sales in order to target particular markets and segments as we continue to expand across India and in Southwest Asia. Additionally, we are also consolidating our cluster setups spread all over the country to improve functional efficiency across locations.”
Neha Rana Dutta, chief human resources officer at Espire Hospitality Group, said the company currently has around 500 people, but the numbers will ‘comfortably double’ by 2022-23.
A new premium boutique resort brand called “Zana” will be introduced in India by Espire Hospitality. This company owns the luxury “Six Senses Fort Barwara” resort and the mid-range resort chain Country Inn Hotels and Resorts.
“We shall have 11 operational hotels and resorts across brands by the end of 2022 and should be able to achieve our goal of 20 operational hotels and resorts in India, by 2023,” Dutta said. “The hiring approach is aggressive, but this is mostly to combat the positive pressure of the new openings scheduled this year. The first resort of our new brand Zana Lakeside Resort, Udaipur opens in September,” she added.
Yogeshwar Sharma, chief executive of Select Citywalk, one of the most popular malls in New Delhi, said hiring has picked up as new malls are coming up. “Since the leasing has also picked up with more brands looking for expansion, malls have to strengthen the sales team,” he added. Mukesh Kumar, chairman of the Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI), said malls are back to 100% staffing levels, but there is a shortage of people, especially at the lower levels. “We are hiring people wherever required but there is a scarcity of manpower,” he added.
According to Rajan Bahadur, chief executive officer of the Tourism and Hospitality Skill Council (THSC), which the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) has promoted to help close the skills gap in the tourism and hotel industries, hiring in the hospitality sector is increasing at all levels due to retaliation tourism and spending as well as new supply entering the market.
“A lot of restaurants had closed down during the Covid-19 pandemic, but with spending coming back, chains have expansion plans and quite a few new restaurants are opening now,” he said. “We are also looking at training people for new roles in adventure tourism or food photography.”