Seven things HR can learn from hospitality

Human resources departments and the hospitality business have a lot in common. Here are seven things HR can learn from hotels.

Hotels, especially chains, understand how vital CAC (customer acquisition cost) and LTV (lifetime value) is. When they provide a (new) customer with an excellent experience, the chance of that customer rebooking a stay with the same hotel (chain), in another country, on perhaps a different continent, increases significantly. Over a customer’s lifespan, they’re likely to spend numerous nights in hotels, so securing repeat business is crucial.

Free upgrade

“Because this is your first time staying with us, I went ahead and upgraded the room.” Free, proactive updates are always a pleasant surprise. A stunning view as opposed to no view, a bath instead of a shower are generally things that are appreciated.

In most companies, the predominant idea seems to be that if you want to get a raise, you have to speak up and ask for it. Some employees are more vocal than others, but all employees deserve to be acknowledged for their performance pro-actively.

Unexpected little things

Little things make a big impact. After a long journey, some mineral water, high-quality coffee, and tea — provided free of charge — can work magic. Excellent (apartment) hotels even provide magnets to cover digital (oven) clocks. They know that the light of the display could be bothersome at night.

Many companies are already tapping into this principle by providing their employees with drinks, fruits, and snacks. So much so that it has become the Olympic minimum. What other initiatives could your company come up with? Celebrating an employee’s birthday, wishing them a happy Ramadan, some extra time-off for a father with a newborn child…

Help you navigate

“Is this your first time in the city? Do you need help getting around?”

Helpful hotel reception employees will ask you if you need any help navigating. Depending on your request, they can provide you with a standard map or a custom explanation on how to get to a destination you have in mind.

Navigating through an office space for the first time can be confusing. Provide a tour through the building and perhaps a map of where people are located.

Early check-in

There are two types of early check-ins. Arriving early is sometimes inevitable, and the longer the journey, the harder it gets to time your arrival precisely. Type one; upon arrival, either the room you booked isn’t ready yet, but they’re willing to proceed with the check-in procedure and perhaps offer you a drink in the lobby while you wait. Type two; the room is actually ready, and the hotel will allow you to check in a couple of hours earlier.

In many companies, after a candidate signs a contract, that’s it. Radio silence until the first day of work. This creates dissonance and even remorse. Did I make the right choice, though? Perhaps I should have stayed.

Consider pre-boarding initiatives where your company allows future employees to check in earlier. This way, they’ll feel included right from the get-go.

Early check-up

“Hello, mister Benaïcha. This is Samira from the hotel reception. I just wanted to make sure everything is in order?” Good to great hotels will usually call you shortly after entering the room. In rare cases, something might actually be wrong. For instance, towels could be missing due to an early check-in (see the previous point). An early call prevents the guest from growing frustrated and allows the hotel, in this case, to rectify the situation swiftly.

In many companies, you’ll hear things like; my door is always open.

Being available isn’t sufficient. Reach out to employees pro-actively to see how they’re doing.

Personalized welcome

Intelligent hotels will ask you, up-front, if your stay is related to a special occasion. When you surprise a loved one with a city trip for their birthday, arriving in a room with balloons and a personalized cake makes a lasting impact.

In some companies, there is no welcome procedure. Not even a brochure.

First impressions matter. Welcome new employees in a personal and custom way.

After check-out

“Do you need us to hold on to your luggage a little longer?” Most hotels will happily hold on to your luggage after checking out. Often a very welcome and practical gesture for guests parked in or near the hotel and still have some things to do before leaving.

In some companies, once you’ve announced your departure, that’s it. Nothing happens.

Grasp the opportunity to see how you can provide value as a company when an employee checks out. Consider exit interviews and proper off-boarding initiatives.


HR and hospitality both provide services for people. Acquisition and retention are challenges that, again, both industries share. Without investing in customer-centric initiatives, hotels are doomed to suffer in a highly competitive market. Why should HR reinvent the wheel when they can borrow inspiration from hospitality.

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