Pan Pacific (PPAC) Hotels Group Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Patrick Imbardelli said retaining employees in markets including Bali, Myanmar and Manila is the Asian hospitality industry's greatest challenge.
Competition among hotel operators, workers choosing to seek jobs overseas and a lack of suitably trained employees have contributed to the shortage, Imbardelli said. The industry also loses workers to banks, insurance companies and airlines, which are focusing more on service and presentation, he said.
"The single biggest challenge we have is the talent crunch," Imbardelli said in an interview in Singapore on Oct. 19. The shortage is across the board, from front-office managers to top management, he said.
Pan Pacific, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. (HOT) and Marriott International Inc. (MAR) are among chains building more hotels in Asia as travel to the region increases. More hotels and a lack of experienced workers for the industry is "a big squeeze on profitability," said Robert Hecker, Singapore-based managing director of Horwath HTL Asia Pacific.
Hotels in Asia will have to spend more money on marketing to attract new workers and take on the costs of training them, Hecker said.
"There is a huge pipeline of new hotels," Hecker said. "It probably means that market occupancies are going to be coming down because supply is increasing faster than demand, so that puts a crunch on the revenue side, combined with increasing costs to staff."
Pan Pacific, controlled by Singapore billionaire Wee Cho Yaw's UOL Group Ltd. (UOL), was unchanged at S$2.26 at the close in Singapore. The stock has advanced 22 percent this year and the parent company has gained 45 percent, surpassing the 15 percent increase in Singapore's Straits Times Index. (FSSTI)
Manila sees a "huge outflux of people" for jobs overseas, Imbardelli said. In Bali, independent hotels and villas compete with established chains for workers, while Myanmar's nascent travel market lacks experienced employees, he said.
Pan Pacific owns about 30 hotels, resorts and serviced apartments globally. In Singapore, where the group has eight properties including those under its Park Royal brand, the government's tightening of rules on foreign workers has hurt the industry's ability to hire more workers, Imbardelli said.
The island city has made it more expensive for companies to hire overseas workers by raising levies, and in the past year it has increased salary thresholds and required better educational qualifications for some categories of foreigners.