People nowadays check into hotels by just going on to their phones and ordering refreshments that might be delivered to them by a room service robot.
Despite modern technology, many in the local hotel and hospitality sectors say they still need to recruit people “with people skills,” or those who can give a personal touch and local expertise when needed.
On Friday, the West Virginia Department of Tourists and West Virginia Northern Community College co-hosted a meeting with area tourism and hospitality stakeholders. Employees from the Wheeling Park Commission, Oglebay Institute, Grand Vue Park, and the Wheeling Convention & Visitors Bureau were among those in attendance.
According to Ennis Smith, the WVDT’s director of destination development, the organization has won a $5.1 million Economic Development Administration Grant from the American Rescue Plan money. It will be utilized for labor development and educational growth in the hotel and tourism industries. She wanted the specialists there to advise the agency on the best way to spend the money.
They stated that they need to hire more people in general. It is not necessarily required for entry-level personnel to have the training, but they would prefer them to have “some personality.”
Usually, simply showing up for their planned job interview is a solid first step. They agreed that it would be much better if they knew the areas.
Phil Klein, vice president of economic and workforce development at WVNCC, asked “those in the tourism and hospitality industry if the school should offer a class teaching “soft skills” needed when dealing with guests, customers, and the public”.
“This needs to start even before they are ready to work,” said Olivia Littman, marketing director for the Wheeling CVB. “Sometimes, if you are not having that discussion before high school, you’ve already lost their confidence.”
The country of Peru includes a hospitality class as part of its primary education. As a result, visiting the country can be a more pleasant experience, said Bob Peckenpaugh, president, and CEO of the Wheeling Park Commission.
“If we required every single student who comes out of WVNCC to have a certain hospitality class and training, those people skills would be a great outcome for us,” Peckenpaugh said.