Boosting talent attraction and development at Marriott

Regan Taikitsadaporn - Chief of Staff Asia Interview IV-23-09 Marriott HotelsThe pandemic taught people and businesses resilience and agility. The hotel and tourism industry magnifies this lesson, especially across its many HR departments.

Chief of Staff Asia explored these learnings in an exclusive interview with Regan Taikitsadaporn, Chief HR Officer of Marriott International (Asia-Pacific). He firmly believes that resilience and agility are the keys to industry rebuilding and strengthening the workforce in this post-pandemic era.

The timeless proof: When he joined Marriott 23 years ago, the hotel chain’s Asia-Pacific footprint stood at fewer than 100 properties. The group now boasts over 1,000 hotels in 23 countries and territories. That growth has posed challenges and Taikitsadaporn’s human capital strategies at Marriott centre around preparing for and surmounting each of those hurdles.

His responsibilities as Chief HR Officer include developing, formulating, and implementing strategies to support Marriott Asia-Pacific’s current priorities and future growth.

For Taikitsadaporn, this means recognising the thousands of team members (“associates”) as a critical part of the strategy. He highlights Marriott’s core belief: “If we take good care of our associates, they will take care of our guests.”

He further emphasises grooming internal talent and allowing promotion from within, enriching human capital with an ongoing development programme from each associate’s Day One with the company.

“Attracting and developing talent should be a top priority for all organisations today. Companies that prioritise diversity, equity, and inclusion while implementing robust training and talent development programs will be in the best position to thrive in today’s business environment,” Taikitsadaporn states.

HR’s positive outlook for the hotel and travel industry

Taikitsadaporn cites a WTTC prediction on the global travel industry that it will add a further 126 million new jobs over the next decade, 65% of which will be in the Asia-Pacific region.

In line with this, he is confident about the outlook of travel and looks forward to welcoming more associates across the region.

“Marriott plans to add roughly two hotels per week in Asia-Pacific this year. We also recently celebrated the opening of our milestone 1,000th property, The Ritz-Carlton Melbourne.”

But this progressive scenario brought the conversation back to the time of the pandemic.

When the hotel business was at a lull, and only essential travel was allowed, Taikitsadaporn says Marriott’s top priority was the livelihoods of its associates. “We temporarily assigned our associates to over 70 business partners in the region who needed workers, including in the tech and freight industries.”

This move enabled the employees to work during what was a challenging period for the hotel industry.

Marriott also committed to rehiring those same associates at the first signs of recovery. “I’m proud to say that Marriott has since welcomed back the displaced associates and has further increased the numbers in line with our business growth.”

Taikitsadaporn said they leveraged the Marriott “TakeCare” disaster relief fund for their hardest-hit associates. They raised funds for those employees’ school fees, books, supplies, and groceries.

“We organised resilience training classes and partnered with experts in the emotional well-being space to provide free tools and resources,” he added.

Having learned life lessons from the pandemic, Taikitsadaporn noted that Marriott put in place sustainable measures for its employees, including the TakeCare programme.

The HR team also started a new workforce innovation program called iJobs, which helps associates expand their skill sets beyond their core work for more career opportunities and workplace flexibility.

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Chief of Staff Asia