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The estimated pay for a marketing professional is Dh18,250 in Dubai, with junior level executives getting an average of Dh8,000, according to Glassdoor. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: UAE hotels are hiring in force, but there’s been one major change to the way they are doing it. Hotel operators are searching for workers who can bring more than one skill to whichever department they are being hired for.

“The post-pandemic hotel employee is not a ‘one task, one role’ member anymore,” said said Anthony Lagrabette, Head of Hotel Asset Management, MENA Region, Colliers. “Staff optimisation (during Covid years) brought requirements for more versatile employees who can adapt faster to new responsibilities.”

“These new talents - sort of the ‘Swiss Army knife’ of the hotel industry - are the backbone of organisations that understood that providing flexibility with a hybrid working environment is the right way forward. Plus, recognising smart work with fast-track career opportunities…”

Leaner workforces

Across UAE hotels, sizeable numbers of the workforce were let go in the aftermath of the COVID-19 breakout. It was from summer last year that recruitments to fill up some of those roles began, and even then hotels were cautious in their approach. HR costs had to be kept in firm check until the industry could see occupancy levels return to more comfortable levels.

New hotels that opened during this period also could not opt for full staffing, because that could have a detrimental impact on the crucial initial phase of operations.

What can recruits expect?

Networking website Linkedin is full of hotel industry job postings with roles ranging from waiters to marketing interns. ‘Gulf News’ looked at some of these job postings, and it does seem like hotels want future hires to be able to manage a range of responsibilities.

For instance, Dubai’s Five Hotels and Resorts expects its ‘marketing executive’ candidate to handle everything from social media calendars to customer service issues online. “As our ideal candidate, you have proven experience in a highly active environment,” says the upscale hotel operator on LinkedIn. “Your organizational, communication, and leadership skills are second to none and you enjoy developing guest solutions that break boundaries.”

The estimated pay for a marketing professional is Dh18,250 in Dubai, with junior level executives getting an average of Dh8,000, according to Glassdoor. Additional pay could include cash bonus and commissions.

Hilton is looking for a ‘marketing manager’ who will be responsible for the hotel’s marketing plan and budget. Among the duties is developing relationships with new and existing partners and key external stakeholders and brand awareness through events and sponsorships.

According to Payscale, an entry-level marketing manager with less than a year’s experience can earn around Dh60,000 per year, including bonus and overtime pay. An early career manager with 1-4 years of experience is expected to make around Dh118,000 per year.

Kempinski Hotel is hiring service staff, who will be expected to have thorough knowledge and understanding of all F&B items offered by the department assigned. The hotel has said that more responsibilities will be added at any time according to the needs of the business.

Salaryexplorer, another online recruitment portal, has listed servers typically earning around Dh5,770 per month. The pay scale, which is seen ranging from Dh2,830 to Dh9,000, includes housing, transport, and other benefits.

Occupancy gains continue

Through 2021, hotels in the UAE scored on having optimum occupancy levels during all of the peak phases, and they cashed in particularly during the final quarter. Everything points to a repeat this year as travel and tourism into and out of the UAE maintain a sustained level of growth.

Yet, hotels could still bring about more changes, including when it comes to new hiring. “A combined industry effort is needed to remind people why travel is such an attractive sector to join,” said Chris Hartley, CEO Global Hotel Alliance. ”Rather than a recruitment campaign, it’s a communication campaign. Additional efforts are needed to retain good talent.”

Upskilling is all

JA Resorts & Hotels, which has a portfolio of 10 resorts, including 7 hotels in Dubai, has already taken a page out of the revised script on recruitments. The hotel is investing heavily in a workforce that can meet the demands of a post-pandemic reality.

“Our key principles are to invest in employee learning and foster a working environment where team members are empowered and take ownership,” said Robert Mikaelian, Vice-President of Human Resources, JA Resorts & Hotels. “There is an enormous focus on recruiting and retaining a team able and willing to meet this ‘new normal’, which is a much leaner workforce of multi-skilled talents, able to achieve more with less.”

That’s a mantra other hotels will be hoping to perfect…

Dubai's hospitality sector
Among key hotel markets in the Middle East, Dubai’s gross operating profit per available room is currently seven times higher than 2019’s, according to hospitality consultancy STR. Helped by strong international arrival numbers, as well as Ramadan falling earlier in the year, fuelled Dubai’s GOPPAR to $115.37 in May. This is 776 per cent over pre-pandemic levels.

In a sign that salary packages too have increased, the labour cost per available room in the UAE rose to $45.96 in May, from $45.30 during 2019.