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Suite Talk: Shaun Campbell, managing director, The Langham, Hong Kong

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Shaun Campbell, managing director of The Langham, Hong Kong shares some insights on competition, recruitment challenges, and the importance of good restaurants.

Q: How would you describe your leadership style?

Collaborative and creative. Hospitality is not a serious business so I aim to motivate our people to become great providers for our guests, and support them internally to make that happen.

Q: What are your challenges in recruiting?

Hong Kong workers are very competitive and driven. Though this is a real strength for the city, often the recruitment challenge is other service industries competing for young talent, and a general shortage of part-time/casual labour compared with other cities that I have worked in before.

Q: What is your view of HR as a business function?

Our core business really is hospitality, and as such, our other functional areas such as HR, finance, and sales and marketing, need to collaborate and support core operations. That’s our culture within Langham and it’s always been my view as a managing director as well – how can I best support the operation to deliver great hospitality.

Q: You are the chairman for the Hong Kong Hotels Association. What is the first key objective you hope to achieve in that role and why?

The head of the HKHA HR committee is my predecessor who is already very active on a few initiatives. I want to ensure we continue to provide accessible information and knowledge of best practices (both local and global) for many of the smaller member hotels – whether that’s formal training from guest speakers, or sharing various hygiene, CSR, engineering, and revenue management initiatives within our sub-committees.

Q: What would you say is the biggest talent challenge in Hong Kong’s hospitality industry? How can the industry best respond?

The biggest challenge is it’s quite competitive with so many options for young talent to find different career opportunities. As chairman of HKHA, I am involved at times with hospitality education forums and I know how actively they are working to reinforce and attract people to the industry. For example, the Vocational Training Council is currently constructing a world-class culinary centre to attract young Hong Kong talent to consider culinary as a career option.

Q: How do you think Hong Kong hotels can overcome the challenge of recruiting and retaining housekeeping staff?

I’d like to say the most obvious opportunity here is in creating a permanent and part-time workforce made up of parents in society that might consider a shorter working week. This has been successful in other countries, and we have tried many campaigns at Langham hotels worldwide to creatively market this in recruitment efforts. We try to recruit responsible and mature talent to complement the base manning the housekeeping.

Q: What’s the biggest change you foresee for the (Hong Kong) hospitality industry in the next 10 years?

With limited real estate available, many of the new hotels are smaller and with limited food and beverage venues. It’s important that our larger Hong Kong hotels continue to take the lead on providing great restaurants and exceptional service experiences to remain popular for tourists and local travel markets as consumers have many options to choose from.

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