The Importance of Awards in the Hospitality Industry: A Balanced Perspective

Awards season is well and truly underway. With the Golden Globes, BAFTAs and Oscars all grabbing headlines at this time of year, it is an opportune moment to look at the impact awards can have on people strategy and overall business goals.  

Winning awards, receiving nominations or simply making a red-carpet splash can help shape reputations for years to come, drive business growth and set the bar for high standards.  

With awards bodies such as The Michelin Guide, Forbes Travel Guide, The Cateys and Hotel Cateys, the hospitality industry has a vibrant awards season which can have a significantly positive impact on hotels, restaurants, and the professionals within.  

However, like any system of recognition, there are considerations and the emotional, financial and time investment should be weighed up before committing to participate. 

In this article, we look through some of the details you may wish to consider before implementing an awards strategy. This could help you and your team make the right decisions for the future growth and development of your business, while continuing to prioritise your workplace culture.  

Michelin and Forbes: Setting Industry Standards 

The Michelin Guide and Forbes Travel Guide ratings are among the most coveted recognitions in the hospitality industry. They are awarded based on rigorous criteria that assess the quality of food, service, and overall guest experience. Inspectors do not announce their visits (either on arrival or departure) and the smallest details can have a significant impact on the rating. 


  • Boost in Prestige and Business: Achieving such awards can significantly elevate a property’s status, attracting more guests and increasing revenue. A Michelin star, for instance, is not just a mark of culinary excellence but also a powerful marketing tool that can put a restaurant on the global map. 
  • Benchmark for Quality: These awards set very high standards, encouraging establishments to strive for excellence. They serve as a benchmark for quality, pushing the industry, and those in it, forward in terms of innovation, service, and culinary artistry. 
  • Establishing Trust: For guests and employees, these accolades are a mark of trust and quality assurance. When choosing where to dine, stay or work, awards from Michelin or Forbes can be decisive factors for those seeking high-end luxury experiences, or a workplace that aligns with their own values and ambitions. 


  • Pressure and Stress: The pursuit of these awards can create immense pressure on owners and employees. The stress of maintaining standards for Michelin or Forbes evaluations can be intense, sometimes leading to a stressful work environment. 
  • Cost Implications: Striving for such high standards often comes with significant financial investment, which can be a challenge, especially for smaller, independent establishments. Many operators have argued that the higher revenues don’t necessarily lead to higher profit. 

Individual Awards: Recognising Personal Excellence 

Awards like the Cateys and Hotel Cateys celebrate the achievements of hospitality professionals, from chefs and managers to front-of-house teams. Entrants are nominated by peers and senior management and entries are submitted for judging by a panel of industry experts who volunteer their services. The ceremonies are often glitzy affairs in grand hotel ballrooms.  


  • Career Advancement: Winning an individual award can be a significant boost to one’s career. It not only recognises talent but also opens doors to new opportunities, networking, and professional growth. From a recruitment perspective, there is no doubt that winning awards will raise an individual’s profile and attract attention from headhunters. 
  • Motivation and Morale: Such recognitions can greatly motivate staff, enhancing morale and fostering a sense of pride and accomplishment. They highlight the importance of individual contributions to the success of an establishment. 
  • Industry Benchmarking: These awards set benchmarks for individual excellence, inspiring others in the industry to strive for similar achievements. 


  • Subjectivity: Unlike awards based on specific criteria and mystery guest visits, individual awards are often based on a written application, which can be more subjective, sometimes leading to debates over the deservingness of winners. 
  • Overemphasis on Recognition: There’s a risk that the pursuit of awards might overshadow other important aspects of the job, such as teamwork and guest satisfaction. 
  • Limited Recognition: With so many deserving candidates in the industry, individual awards can only recognise a few, potentially leading to feelings of undervaluation among others. 

Awards in the hospitality industry, whether for establishments or individuals, have a profound impact. They drive competition, encourage excellence, and provide a framework for what constitutes high-end service. For consumers, these awards simplify choices, offering a guide to exceptional experiences. 

However, it’s crucial for the industry to balance the pursuit of awards with the overall well-being of employees and the financial health of the establishment. The pressure to maintain or achieve these accolades should not come at the cost of employee well-being or lead to unsustainable business practices. 

Moreover, while awards are important, they are not the sole measure of success. Many outstanding establishments and professionals thrive without them, focusing on delivering exceptional experiences that resonate with their guests. Ultimately, the true measure of success in hospitality lies in the satisfaction and loyalty of guests, and the fulfillment and well-being of the staff who make those experiences possible. 

If you would like to chat to us about giving your people strategy the red carpet treatment, then get in touch on +44 20 8600 1166.  

2023: A Year in Review and the Road Ahead

With just a few weeks left in 2023, it’s an opportune moment to reflect on a year that has been as challenging as it has been rewarding for the hospitality sector.  

This year, the hospitality industry has continued to demonstrate resilience, adaptability, and a commitment to excellence that has helped to build confidence amongst operators, owners and investors.  

The team at Hospitality People Group, including Madison Mayfair, FM Recruitment and HPG Advisory Services are proud to have worked alongside our clients to navigate this evolving landscape. This experience, together with a commitment to share ideas and continuously learn from industry specialists around the world, has given us a unique perspective to share insights to help support our clients’ with their people strategies.  

Our team travelled more this year and attended conferences including IHIF in Berlin, FHS in Abu Dhabi and AHC in Manchester. With an even more bustling travel diary for 2024, we have a front-row seat to the vibrant world of hospitality. 

The Battle for Retention
One of the most pressing issues this year has been the ongoing battle for talent. The hospitality industry, known for its high turnover rates, has faced an unprecedented challenge over the past few years. The impact of a demographic shift, with nearly half a million less 18 year olds than 10 years ago, was exacerbated by the impact of Brexit and the pandemic. In a time where recruitment is far more challenging, there has been a renewed focus on retention in order to manage employee turnover. The key to this success has been in promoting stronger workplace cultures and recognising that our employees are a far more valuable part of what we offer guests than may have been previously considered. Innovative strategies, including enhanced development programs, competitive compensation packages, and a focus on workplace culture, have been pivotal. When we invest in our people, they, in turn, invest their loyalty and passion in our services. 

Success Stories
While we are keen to support our clients and their retention strategies, our core business has always revolved around executive search and we work closely with our long-standing clients and a network of candidates to find ideal matches for available roles. This year we were delighted that some of the candidates we placed took time out of their busy schedules to be interviewed in our Success Stories series. Imran Bhatia, Claire Llewellin-Davis and Natasha Eldred all joined us in conversation to discuss their achievements, inspirations and challenges, as well as to share tips and insights for those who might be considering a career in hospitality. 

AI’s Role in Hospitality
The influence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been felt across most industries in 2023, and hospitality is no different. While talk about the Metaverse has diminished due to setbacks from major companies like Meta and Disney, AI has gained significant traction, becoming more integrated into everyday technology. AI’s potential in the hospitality industry lies in automating routine tasks, thereby enhancing efficiency and allowing employees to focus on more value-adding strategic and/or guest-facing roles.  

This shift may go on to change the nature of the skills and roles required in the industry. In recruitment, AI can streamline processes, reduce bias, and improve candidate engagement, although concerns about AI’s potential to overlook valuable candidates remain. Despite AI’s advancements, we believe that it will not replace human consultants but rather augment their capabilities, allowing them to concentrate on relationship-building, retention, and culture, thereby adding more value to businesses and candidates. 

Hotel Investment Trends
The Hospitality People Group team attended a number of hotel investment events throughout 2023 and discovered a number of key themes that ran through them all. The luxury hospitality sector in particular, is experiencing a robust and continuing recovery. Despite the impact of inflation, by focusing on personalised and exclusive experiences to meet the evolving demands of luxury travellers, hotels have been better able to enhance guest satisfaction in this segment, while raising average rates.  

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations have continued to grow more central to the industry and are driven by increasing consumer demand for sustainable practices and a willingness from hotel investors to future-proof their investments in the long term. The integration of ESG strategies into operations is evident, though challenges remain in aligning consumer expectations with their willingness to pay for these practices. A recent article from Hospitality Investor also pointed to the increasing risk presented by climate change, but we also learnt that some regions are also using it as an opportunity to extend the summer season.  

We have also seen some diversification of the leisure hospitality investments, moving beyond traditional models such as beach and golf resorts to include more varied offerings like wellness retreats and Alpine resorts. This trend highlights a broader investor interest in more sustainable, long-term leisure assets. 

Despite challenges in the hotel transaction market and financing landscape, including the gap between seller expectations and buyer capabilities, there remains optimism about the market’s resilience and potential for growth. These trends collectively signal a dynamic phase of innovation and opportunity in the hospitality sector. 

The Evolution of Hotel Asset Management
As the hotel investment scene has developed, the role of the Hotel Asset Manager has become essential, serving as a critical link between investors, owners, and operators. In 2023, this position became central to maximising profitability and operational efficiency, while enhancing guest experience and optimising the return on investment. This comes at a time for hotel investment, when investor interest is peaked by industry recovery, yet continues to be mindful of the recent challenges the sector has faced.  

Hotel Asset Managers are instrumental in driving financial performance, identifying revenue opportunities, and implementing strategies to safeguard profits in a competitive market. They play a key role in risk management and investment strategy, evaluating market conditions to inform investment decisions and risk mitigation. Additionally, they focus on operational efficiency and quality assurance, ensuring the hotel meets evolving guest expectations and maintains high service standards. Together, this reflects a shift from traditional owner-manager dynamics to a more specialised, strategic approach, designed to appeal to the market. 

Looking Ahead: 2024
We look forward towards 2024 with excitement. With plans to attend events in Berlin, Florida, Riyadh, New York, Dubai, Rome, Manchester, and London, we are committed to staying at the forefront of industry trends and innovations. These events are not just opportunities for learning and networking but also a testament to our dedication to supporting and connecting the hospitality world. 

The challenges we have faced in this industry over the last few years have only strengthened our commitment with a renewed sense of purpose and a clear vision for the future – where we can help support people strategies that align seamlessly with our client’s business goals. 

Here’s to a new year filled with more travels, learnings, and opportunities to redefine the essence of hospitality. 

If you would like to have a chat about your people strategy for 2024 and beyond, please get in touch on Tel: +44 20 8600 1166.  

Will AI replace human hospitality recruiters?

Last year, the Metaverse was touted as the future of business. While that might certainly be the case at some point in the future, it feels that the enthusiasm for this project has waned.  

The technology needed to experience Web 3.0 is still unfamiliar to many, but more importantly, there has been a huge backtrack in recent months from innovators such as Meta and Disney, as they have dramatically reduced their workforces dedicated to this sector. 

On the other hand, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is growing in influence. We are familiar with AI through popular culture, and Hollywood movies have often highlighted the advantages and disadvantages very clearly, and often, dramatically!  

Since Chat GPT was launched in November 2022, we have seen a sudden deluge of AI add-ons and features added to familiar websites, search engines, and productivity programmes. Devices we already own, suddenly have the ability to leverage the power of advanced AI…. for free. 

There is no doubt that AI is disrupting the way we work, live and interact. Like all advancements, it has the potential to create both new opportunities and challenges for various sectors, and the hospitality industry is no different.  

But what impact is this technology likely to have on recruitment in the hospitality industry? 

Hospitality Skills
Before we look at how AI could affect recruitment, it is important to ask if AI might make a difference in the type of roles or skills that may become more sought after in future.  

AI can enhance the efficiency and accuracy of many jobs across the sector by automating repetitive and routine tasks, such as data entry, reconciliation, invoicing and payments.  

This can free up time and resources for employees to focus on more strategic and innovative activities. This could help hospitality professionals to generate new insights and recommendations, identify new opportunities and trends, and create new products and services. 

While the reduction of manual tasks may certainly affect the number of employees required, it may also help augment the skills and capabilities of employees to help them to deliver more value for their businesses and guests. This would require the industry to continue to adapt and evolve roles and responsibilities and acquire new skills and competencies to leverage the power of these technological advancements. 

We know that finding and hiring perfect candidates for hospitality roles is a challenging and time-consuming process. AI will certainly be able to help streamline and improve certain recruitment processes including: 

  • The screening and shortlisting of candidates based on their resumes, skills, qualifications and experience. AI could help save recruiters time and effort and reduce human bias and errors 
  • Providing personalised and timely communication, feedback and guidance throughout the recruitment journey. This can increase candidate engagement and satisfaction, and improve the employer brand 
  • Providing insights and recommendations for recruiters and hiring managers. This can help them make better and faster decisions, optimise their strategies, and identify talent gaps and opportunities. 
  • Helping candidates find and apply for roles that match their preferences, goals and potential. This can increase the quality and diversity of the talent pool, and reduce the turnover rate. 

Understanding Bias in AI  
A 2021 Forbes article, Understanding Bias in AI Enabled Hiring, it was highlighted how AI objectively assesses the data points and reduces assumptions, mental fatigue and bias that humans often succumb to.  

While there is a risk of human bias being subconsciously programmed into the AI algorithm, there are still clear advantages to relying on AI to screen candidates on a large scale.  

In 2019, a Harvard Business Review article, Will AI reduce Gender Bias in Hiring, it highlighted that AI does not need to engage in unconscious biases to penalise based on gender or other under-represented groups in order to get a self-esteem boost. 

Reducing human bias is undoubtedly a fairer solution, but this lack of bias could also be a significant drawback to AI-based recruitment.  If a business wanted to diversify its workforce or business culture, recruitment without any human judgement may not serve the purpose.  

There are candidates out there with atypical work experiences that fail to meet the AI algorithm standards, who could potentially be the best fit in terms of their individual personality, interests, character and work ethics. 

Our Conclusion
As specialists in people strategy, we recognise that our view comes from a position of bias, but we strongly feel that AI will never replace our consultants. It will likely become a powerful tool that can augment our capabilities and performance, by helping reduce mundane tasks. This will allow us to focus on the human aspects of people and performance strategies, such as building relationships, focussing on retention and culture, and providing added value to businesses and candidates. 

If you would like to have a chat about your people strategy, please get in touch and we can chat – human to human – on Tel: +44 20 8600 1166. 

Briefing: The value of thoughtful recruitment

Recruiting new ways of thinking into your business can be very advantageous. A study by Delloite says that ‘diversity of thought’ within a team can ‘help increase the scale of new insights’ and ‘guard against overconfidence’. Teams that hold a variety of skillsets, identities, and backgrounds will challenge each other and encourage learning and innovation. Whoever you choose to bring into your business, ensure you are supporting them to achieve their best.

Our experts look at the importance of thoughtful recruitment and training:

The advantages of having diverse teams, beyond the immediate social importance, is noted in various studies. McKinsey found that ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to financially outperform competitors. While a study in a PNAS journal revealed that traders in diverse markets were better at accurately pricing stocks.

When recruiting new employees you should consider ‘what they can bring to the team’, and also what they can bring out in a team and what you can bring out in them. Think about more that filling a gap and relying on old habits and assumptions, but really look at how they can fit in the business and work to help them develop, as discussed in the above videos.

A drive for recruitment and upskilling in the industry is needed this year is especially in light of Brexit, which could see UK hospitality businesses losing many of their valuable staff. BHA say that “Assuming that 10% of the EU workforce (70,000) leave the sector and/or the UK each year and the industry’s total headcount grows by a conservative 1% (45,000) annually, the annual recruitment need is for over 100,000 people.”

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Video clips produced by for the Hospitality Channel, including interview from industry conferences such as the IHIF conference as well as specific Hospitality Channel shoots.

Briefing: Millennial culture emphasises teamwork

According to Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends 2016, 80% of executives report that they are either currently restructuring their organization or have recently completed the process. The report states that the need for innovation and the growing Millennial workforce among other factors is driving a trend for businesses to be organised into ever-changing “networks of teams”. Another important finding is that 82% of survey respondents believe that “culture is a potential competitive advantage.”

In these videos our hospitality experts discuss the importance of strong teams and positive working culture:

Deloitte says that in the new “network of teams” structure, ‘companies build and empower teams to work on specific business projects and challenges’. The rigid hierarchies of business past are slowly disappearing and empowerment is now the name of the game.

Companies now want to focus on getting the right people for each job. Great culture will make a company more attractive to talent and will bolster the team to work hard and produce results. Deloitte say that 50% of companies are currently attempting to change their culture in response to shifting talent markets and increased competition.

But culture can be a hard thing to measure – the report says that fewer than 12% of companies believe they truly understand their culture.

If you’ve been sent to this page and you’re not yet on the circulation list to receive these regular briefings and you would like to sign up, you can do see here. It’s free.

Video clips produced by for the Hospitality Channel, including interview from industry conferences such as the IHIF conference as well as specific Hospitality Channel shoots.

Briefing: Guest data and great staff combine for the ultimate personalised experience

Data has been a hot conversation topic for a long time now. Personal information holds the secrets to your guests’ desires and is more available than ever. If data helps companies to ‘understand’ their customer, then the customer should reap the benefits. Once the guest arrives at a hotel there is no substitute for intuition. But staff must be equipped to use data on the fly to personalise service.

In this briefing four experts discuss how personalisation is the key to a great hotel experience. Comment from:

  • Frank Croston, Partner, Hamilton Hotel Partners on using consumer data to personalise promotions

  • Anton Bawab, Regional President, Viceroy Hotel Group on intuitive staff offering a more personalised service

  • Michael Levie, Chief Executive Officer, citizenM on valuing service with a smile

  • Stephan Balzer, Chief Executive Officer, Red Onion GmbH on more personalised stays being possible if hotels utilise data


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Video clips produced by for the Hospitality Channel, including interview from industry conferences such as the IHIF conference as well as specific Hospitality Channel shoots.

Briefing: Women at the top

Although women have always accounted for over 50% of the hospitality workforce, this has typically been disproportionately towards the bottom of the pyramid. Things are gradually improving with women being promoted into C level roles, but there is still plenty of work to do to address the gender gap. In this briefing we speak to three women who have built successful hospitality careers about what the industry can do to bring more diversity at the top.

Comment from:

  • Kathleen Matthews, Chief Communications & Public Affairs Officer, Marriott International Inc on why women are still disproportionately represented in the hospitality industry

  • Karen Friebe, Partner, Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP, on why women need more role models in the industry

  • Wolfgang Wienz, Senior Technical Specialist, Hotels, Catering & Tourism, International Labour Organization on whether the industry can overcome gender gaps

  • Elizabeth Winkle, Managing Director, STR Global on how women in the industry would benefit from mentor relationships

If you’ve been sent to this page and you’re not yet on the circulation list to receive these regular briefings and you would like to sign up, you can do see here. It’s free.

Video clips produced by for the Hospitality Channel, including interview from industry conferences such as the IHIF conference as well as specific Hospitality Channel shoots.

Briefing: employing now for a certain future

Accepting the fact that ‘uncertainty is certain’ is a truth that is seen in today’s market. Understanding how you can mitigate this uncertainty can be done by employing the right people. Companies are now making the changes to their staff that will mean improved efficiencies and a sought after personalised service for customers. In this week’s briefing we hear from Guy Lean, of Hospitality People Group, Will Winch, of Mishcon de Reya and Arnaud de Saint-Exupery, of the Andaz at Liverpool Street.

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Briefing: LinkedIn creating tremendous noise?

With 3 out of 4 companies using social media in the recruitment process (Source:, this briefing looks to understand how in an online and digital world you can be successful. Leading experts from hospitality, law and recruitment give invaluable insight into this new marketing channel. This includes Guy Lean of the Hospitality People Group, Adam Morallee of Mishcon de Reya talking about retaining exclusivity and Lina Stahl on the advantages of TripAdvisor.

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