Talent Management Innovations in the International Hospitality Industry

Cover of Talent Management Innovations in the International Hospitality Industry


Table of contents

(10 chapters)

Purpose: Talent management and in particular strategic talent management (STM) has emerged as an important issue for hospitality organisations worldwide. In this chapter, we address some of the complexities evident in hospitality organisations in relation to the practice of STM, the types of internal and external STM issues that arise and both the research and practice implications of pursuing STM in hospitality organisations.

Methodology/Approach: This chapter presents a review of the literature on the wider topic of STM, with particular focus on the integration of issues and themes identified in the hospitality management literature related to STM perspectives.

Findings: We find that STM is a topical issue for hospitality organisations irrespective of size, complexity, or geographic location. However, research that explicitly addresses STM in hospitality is nascent leaving many unanswered questions. The notion of what constitutes STM is shaped by the complexities and values of the hospitality industry itself and its meaning is not necessarily the same as in other industry contexts. However, as yet we do not have sufficient insights to reach conclusions as to what STM truly looks like in hospitality organisations.

Research Implications: Here, we add to the literature, highlighting the need for more research on the many dimensions of STM in hospitality organisations including its antecedents, processes, and outcomes and the extent to which it is different in hospitality organisations compared to multinational corporations and public sector organisations.

Practical Implications: We highlight a number of practical implications around roles, processes, practices, and skillsets to utilise a strategic approach to talent management in hospitality organisations.

Originality/Value: This chapter continues the debate as to the role of STM in hospitality organisations as well as providing a more focussed agenda for both future research and practice. We also analyse and critique the internal and external forces and pressures that shape STM in hospitality organisations.


Purpose: This chapter explores the strategic role of human resource development (HRD) as a function of talent management (TM) and discusses how HRD activities can help to facilitate more creative behaviours, in the international hospitality industry.

Approach: We focus on TM and HRD research exploring how these lenses are conceptually positioned given our current knowledge on creativity. We draw on the system-based approach to creativity and reconceptualise the creativity components by levels of flexibility/plasticity and outline how such approaches can help creative practice development.

Findings: We rationalise the existing conceptual approaches to creativity and propose a simplified model considering the developmental aspects of creativity. First, we theorise the TM/HRD strategies, such as training and development via learning, as a mechanism to connect TM/HRD to creativity in the organisational setting. We inform the current literature on whether and how creative processes emerge at work and affect creative flow in the bottom-top and top-bottom directions. Second, we advance the development of creativity theory by reconceptualising the established creativity components by degrees of flexibility/plasticity. Such re-conceptualisation allows for more nuanced examinations of organisational stimuli (i.e. training and development) on developmental conceptions of creativity.

Originality: This is the first piece of work that has investigated the fit between TM/HRD and creativity research. Our conceptual model illustrates that creativity can be promoted and developed at work by incorporating developmental initiatives such as TM/HRD.


Purpose: We generally ascribe hospitality industry talent shortages to organisations competing for dwindling talent rather than their inability to sustain industry talent pools. This chapter suggests that developing sustainable talent management and development (STMD) initiatives can address the talent attraction and retention issues the industry is facing. Following Ostrom’s (2002) design principles, we advocate for sustainable common pool resource networks as a solution for developing durable STMD initiatives to address talent shortages within the hospitality industry.

Methodology: A conceptual chapter synthesising disparate theories in a new context.

Findings: Despite hospitality organisations’ continued investment in talent management, talent shortages remain systematically embedded within the industry. These are the result of a perennial competition among hospitality firms for talent, when, instead, these firms should engage in collective efforts to sustain industry talent pools. The adoption of a more sustainable approach by incorporating Ostrom’s (2002) design principles to establish long-lasting common talent pool resource in the form of industry rather than firm-level talent pools may halt the decline in available talent.

Research Limitation/Implications: While hospitality organisations have a vested interest in sustainably managing talent, limited attention has been paid to creating sustainable industry talent pools. We propose several design principles for developing durable STMD initiatives, which require empirical testing.

Practical/Social Implications: We address talent shortages for hospitality organisations by offering the blueprint for developing sustainable industry talent pools for a collection of firms, which, on their own, would lack the experience and resources to securing a steady supply of talent. In addition, industry talent pools also have the potential to improve the general working conditions for employees in this industry pool.

Originality/Value of Chapter: This chapter addresses hospitality industry talent shortages by proposing the creation of sustainable regional industry talent pools rather than focussing on firm-level talent management practices.


Purpose: The purpose of this chapter is to explore the use of employer branding as a key strategy in talent management, in an effort to retain employees in the context of the Irish hotel industry.

Methodology/Approach: This chapter was part of a wider body of research, and combines this discussion with a sequential mixed-method approach. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 18 hotel general managers in Cork City/County, and these were combined with 417 employee questionnaires conducted in the same hotels.

Findings: This chapter finds that hoteliers in Ireland are aware of the necessity to tackle the area of employee retention, are conscious of the importance of positive employer branding to aid in decreasing employee turnover, but that many are just at the genesis of their journey in the area of talent management. Indeed, many hotels have not yet implemented a talent management plan into their organisation and need to be more innovative in their approach to talent management through positive employer branding.

Practical implications: Employees strongly believe that those hotels which possess a positive employer brand have more committed employees, while those with negative reputations in terms of their employment affect an employee’s intentions to leave the business. Therefore, employers must put strategies in place to enhance their employer brand if they are to attract and retain employees.

Social implications: The chapter makes recommendations to hotel managers as to how employer branding can be utilised as part of their overall talent management strategy to increase employee retention in a challenging employment market, improving overall performance, and leading to sustained competitiveness. The areas of talent management, employer branding, and employee retention are interlinked, and it is imperative that hotels implement strategic initiatives in these key areas.

Originality/value of paper: This chapter contributes to the overall talent management area, offering further guidance to operators who are embarking on this strategic direction. It supports the link between talent management and employer branding.


Purpose: This chapter aims to critically explore the nature of mentoring initiatives through the conceptual lenses of social capital and communities of practice offering a distinctive understanding of talent management (TM) innovations in the international hospitality industry.

Methodology/approach: It achieves its aim through identifying and analysing current mentoring initiatives operating in the international hospitality sector, and scrutinises how they provide a sector level approach to TM challenges.

Findings: Industry level mentoring initiatives emerge as TM innovations connecting employees within networks across the international hospitality sectors. Mentoring creates bonds and bridges between senior and junior employees beyond their own workplaces, connecting them to the industry and supporting TM by enhancing the identification of opportunities and the recognition of talent. These initiatives also act as learning communities where contemporary TM dilemmas can be explored by participants from diverse backgrounds and between generations.

Research limitations/implications: The findings rely on the identification and exploration of publically available data, and therefore future primary data collection would yield richer insights into the experiences of stakeholders of these mentoring initiatives as TM innovations.

Social implications: Mentoring initiatives can exemplify innovative ways of supporting TM and addressing diversity and inequality issues in fragmented and dispersed sectors, such as the international hospitality industry.

Originality/value of paper: The exploration of contemporary mentoring initiatives in the international hospitality industry identifies the value of cross-industry TM innovations stretching beyond stakeholders, such as educators, employers and policy-makers. It identifies mentoring initiatives as mechanisms for creating bonds and bridges between those industry aspirants at various career stages where diversity and inclusion may be a challenge in a fragmented and dispersed sector.


Purpose: The purpose of this chapter is to identify innovative talent management strategies, programmes, and practices that hospitality companies use in order to identify, develop, and retain their talent. For this purpose, awardees of the Hospitality HR Award were analysed. The award is an established prize in the German-speaking area. General success factors for innovative talent management are identified and the results are compared to international research of talent management in hospitality organisations.

Methodology: The chapter uses a qualitative content analysis approach. All award winners of the Hospitality HR Award since its launch in 2013 (N=60) are analysed.

Findings: The award winners followed different talent management strategies (e.g. cultural and leadership development), programmes (e.g. apprenticeship development programmes), and practices (e.g. fast and digital recruiting processes). Reported outcomes ranged from higher job satisfaction and lower staff turnover to a better work–life balance. General success factors included, among others, the importance of alignment of owners’ and managers’ interests and an integrated view on talent management.

Practical implications: Many talent management strategies, programmes, and practices are specified that may inspire hospitality organisations to employ more innovative approaches to talent management.

Originality: This chapter provides systematic qualitative evidence for and adds to the limited body of knowledge on innovative talent management strategies, programmes, and practices of hospitality companies. Furthermore, the chapter considers both strategic and operational views on talent management.


Purpose: This chapter considers talent management in ‘situ’, at a time of unprecedented disruption, and identifies implications for practice and study.

Methodology/approach: We compare normative advice from the talent management literature with publicly available accounts of talent management strategies employed during the Covid-19 pandemic. We also include perceptions of employees from publicly available reviews (Glassdoor, 2020a), and a brief personal account.

Findings: Hospitality and tourism organisations are encountering unprecedented pressures for change, primarily due to Covid-19 as well as the sustainability and social justice movements. We identify three organisational responses to the pandemic – closing/contracting operations, consolidating around areas of strength, and creatively pivoting in new directions. Innovations in talent management were found to vary accordingly, including: humane downsizing and pay cuts; training and development (for managers and front-line employees, including in emotional intelligence, resilience, and delivering service excellence online); new talent acquisition, through new programmes, structures, roles, and partnerships; an enhanced employee value proposition, including safe and fun work environments, as well as improved pay and benefits; commitments to social equity and sustainability; courageous, creative, and resilient leadership; and effective communication. Despite these innovations, employee reviews suggest that top performing organisations continue to fall short on work–life balance, un-social working hours, inadequate compensation, and poor-quality managers.

Practical implications: Ever increasing business complexity requires skilled senior managers in multiple domains, and empowered, decentralised unit-level managerial and owner competence (with skills in emotional intelligence, collaboration, and negotiation). Front-line employees, capable of delivering excellence in customer service (despite disrupted circumstances), are more essential than ever. Successful enterprises, both now and in the future, will undoubtedly be those that prioritise talent, throughout all levels of organisation.

Research limitations/implications: Future research should undertake a more comprehensive investigation of talent management strategies employed (including from small business owners), as well as employee perceptions of their effectiveness (considering socio-economic differences as well as gender and race). Research is also needed with respect to the perceived value of organisational commitments to sustainability and social justice initiatives.

Originality/value: This chapter uniquely considers talent management at a time of crisis. Methodologically, it uses publicly available data of employee perceptions of their employers.

Cover of Talent Management Innovations in the International Hospitality Industry
Publication date
Book series
Talent Management
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited