Discovering Hospitality Personas

The pandemic left long-lasting effects on many sectors, but none has perhaps felt its full force quite as acutely as the hospitality industry. Layoffs and temporary closures led to many international staff returning home amid a wave of uncertainty, and those who remained often opted to switch to sectors such as retail, distribution and even construction.

This has left businesses in the hospitality sector with a big question to answer:

With low unemployment and tight labour markets making hiring ‘ready-made’ workers difficult, how do we most effectively train and upskill existing employees, and recruit new personnel?

Restaurant and Hospitality Skillnet commissioned Interactions Research to conduct a study to help the industry understand its workforce so it can better manage and retain staff. The research would:

  • Segment the workforce into similar groups to investigate their workview, training needs and aspirations.
  • Provide solutions to closing skills and knowledge gaps.

While generational theory provides useful insights into differences in the workforce, it often reveals only small, inconsistent differences between groups. Our psychographic segmentation approach focused on the ‘why’, rather than the ‘who’ as it clearly highlights employee groups with similar needs, attitude and skills without the risk of perpetrating negative generational stereotypes.

Qualitative methods were used initially, including interviews and focus groups. Issues were raised such as:

“Different cultures, different nationalities bring different expectations to work.”

“Hospitality is a very transient industry – people don’t always see it as a career for life.”

A large-scale survey was conducted with more than 800 responses received from employees in the industry.

Our analysis revealed six distinct segments working in the industry, each with their own views, values, paint points and needs. Personas were then developed for each:

Persona A: Future Star – is in the middle of their career and has the capacity to grow and develop into a key player in the business. They have a positive outlook and are keen to maintain their work-life balance.

Persona B: Career Committed – is at the top of the career ladder but needs to be kept motivated and challenged..

Persona C: Family Ties – is more likely to work in a family business and play different roles as required. This can lead to stress and the need to take a step back

Persona D: Career Seeker – is the least career-focussed persona and views their current role as short-term.

Persona E: Career Mover – has no or low hospitality qualifications but lots of experience and confidence in their own abilities.
They tend to move around as they haven’t found the job they love.

Persona F: Career Entrant – at the bottom of the ladder lacks confidence and self-esteem. They need confidence building and to be shown a purpose and progression opportunities.

And recommendations designed to get the very best from them, and from the industry as a whole, were also provided:

  • Review learning and development planning for employees.
  • Engage businesses in the Restaurant & Hospitality Skillnet in the micro-credential movement.
  • Review how positions are advertised.
  • Provide workplace coaching across personas.
  • Conduct a thorough analysis of past hires.

These findings should help the hospitality sector to up-skill employees through increased understanding of each segment’s goals, ambitions, and training needs within the industry.

Read the full report here: https://www.rhskillnet.ie/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/86057-RAI-Research-Report-v6.pdf

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