21 Hotel Staff Incentives to Attract and Retain Talent

Bryan Michalis
Bryan Michalis
February 22, 2024
September 29, 2023
21 Hotel Staff Incentives to Attract and Retain Talent

The data is clear: employee engagement is key to a thriving business. According to Gallup’s 2023 State of Workplace Productivity, disengaged employees cost the world $8.8 trillion in lost productivity. Coupled with the 82% of hotels experiencing staffing shortages, it’s never been so important to attract and retain talent in hospitality. Hotel staff incentives help enhance job satisfaction and job performance, leading to more efficient workforces and better guest experiences

Read on to discover the significance of a motivated hotel workforce, understand the benefits of introducing staff incentives, and explore 21 ideas for staff incentives to reward your team. 

What are Hotel Staff Incentives?

Hotel staff incentives are rewards or benefits given to employees to motivate, recognize and retain them. A good staff incentive plan should be “strategic, motivational, fair, simple and fiscally responsible,” according to Hotel Management Company Sales Incentive Plans.

Incentives also help improve employee job satisfaction, productivity and hotel’s performance. While incentives are not guaranteed to always work, they help hotels create a positive atmosphere and a culture where hard work is appreciated and rewarded. 

The Two Types of Hotel Staff Incentives

Hotel incentives for staff come in all shapes and sizes. They are categorized into two main types: monetary and non-monetary. Some are bigger investments than others, but all incentive ideas serve to create a happier workforce and better performance. 

  1. Monetary incentives: Monetary rewards include things like bonuses, commissions or salary increases. These types of incentives are especially important within hotel sales teams and are often goal-based. 
  2. Non-monetary incentives: Non-monetary incentives come in the form of recognition and awards, training and development, benefits and work-life balance programs. 

The Importance of Motivated Staff in the Hotel Industry

The success of a good hotel business hinges on the quality of its customer service. This means employees need to be attentive, sincere, and hard-working. But if a workforce is unhappy, they’re less likely to perform to their full potential. 

They’re also more likely to leave. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that compared to the average turnover rate across industries of 12%, the hotel and lodging industry experiences a rate of almost 74%. 

There’s an evident need for staff to feel happy and engaged at work if you want a productive workforce. So, what can you do? Start with staff incentives.

The Benefits of Hotel Staff Incentives

The benefits of providing hotel staff incentives are far-reaching. It begins with the happiness of your workforce and eventually enhances operational efficiency, revenue and the guest experience. 

  • Increases employee productivity: Promises of tangible rewards naturally lead to increased enthusiasm, higher levels of engagement, and a more dedicated workforce. 
  • Improves job satisfaction: Job satisfaction increases when employees feel appreciated and rewarded for their hard work. Incentives can also foster a more positive work environment, contributing to increased employee morale. 
Hotel staff incentives improve job satisfaction
  • Lowers staff turnover: Employees who see opportunities for career growth and receive financial rewards are more likely to stay with you, which reduces turnover rates and the associated costs of recruitment and training. 
  • Enhances guest experience: Satisfied and motivated staff members are more likely to provide exceptional customer service. This leads to higher guest satisfaction scores, repeat business and positive word-of-mouth referrals.
  • Creates a positive reputation: A happier workforce is more likely to lead to great customer service. This is then reflected in your guests’ reviews, which enhances your hotel reputation.  
  • Attracts top talent: Hotels that offer attractive incentive programs can stand out in the job market, making it easier to recruit skilled and motivated professionals.
  • Leads to increased profits: While there are costs associated with providing incentives, staff incentives lead to a better guest experience and increased loyalty. This leads to more revenue, higher profit margins and a positive return on investment (ROI). 

21 Hotel Staff Incentives Increase Workforce Happiness 

Monetary Incentives

1. Bonuses

Bonuses are monetary lump sums provided to employees based on their performance and achievements. There are multiple types of bonuses, including:

  • Performance bonuses
  • Year-end bonuses
  • Sales bonuses
  • Retention bonuses

2. Commission

Commissions involve offering a percentage of the revenue generated from the sale of hotel services or products to the employees who sold them. Staff can earn commission on things like room, event or tour and activity sales. 

3. Profit-sharing

Profit-sharing is where a portion of your hotel’s profits is distributed to your employees. This type of incentive is a good way to align your workforce’s interests with the financial interests of the hotel.

4. Salary increases

Salary increases are granted to recognize and reward employees for their contributions, experience, and performance within the hotel. There are a few different types of salary increases:

  • Annual raises
  • Performance or merit-related raises
  • Cost-of-living increases

5. Referral programs

Referral programs encourage staff members to refer potential candidates for job openings within your hotel. These programs often involve bonuses to employees when referrals are successfully hired and pass a probationary period or stay for a specified duration. 

6. Digital tipping 

Digital tipping has become a popular way to ensure minimum wage staff are compensated. Canary’s digital tipping solution, for example, is an app-less, customizable solution that makes it easier for guests to leave cashless tips for your staff.

"Our employees definitely appreciate [digital tipping]. They know that most people aren’t carrying cash, and, if they receive a $5, $10 or $20 digital tip, they probably wouldn’t have received it at all otherwise.” - Carlos Gonzzatti, Hotel Manager, Inness

Non-monetary incentives

7. Uniform allowance

Purchasing uniforms is a significant expense. Uniform allowances are designed to cover the costs associated with purchasing and maintaining work-related clothing. This might be provided as a set amount regularly and can help employees struggling with costs.

8. Gift cards and vouchers

Gift cards or vouchers are a great way to reward staff members for exceptional performance. These typically have a predetermined cash value and can be redeemed for goods or services within the hotel or elsewhere. You could offer:

  • Hotel-specific gift cards to be redeemed on your premises
  • Retail gift cards
  • Prepaid Visa/Mastercard gift cards
  • Experience vouchers

9. Recognition and awards

Non-financial recognition programs acknowledge outstanding performance. Examples include "Employee of the Month" awards, certificates of achievement, or public recognition during staff meetings.

Recognition and awards are a form of hotel staff incentives design to improve employee engagement

10. Training and development

Provide employees with opportunities for skill development, training, and career advancement. This can include cross-training, tuition assistance, or access to certifications.

11. Employee benefits

Offer a comprehensive benefits package, including health insurance, dental coverage, retirement plans (such as 401(k)), paid time off (vacation and sick leave), and other perks like employee discounts.

12. Flexible scheduling

Offer employees control over their work schedules or provide flexible scheduling options to accommodate personal needs, improving work-life balance.

13. Employee assistance programs (EAP)

Provide access to counseling services, mental health support and resources to help employees cope with personal or work-related challenges.

14. Discounts and perks

Offer employees discounts or special offers on hotel services, dining, accommodations, or partnerships with local businesses. These discounts can enhance their overall compensation package.

15. Health and wellness programs

Provide programs promoting physical and mental well-being, such as fitness center access, wellness challenges, stress management workshops or on-site health screenings.

16. Team outings 

Organize team outings, picnics, holiday parties and other social events to foster camaraderie and teamwork among staff.

17. Employee appreciation days or weeks

Show employees you appreciate them by throwing celebrations dedicated to certain teams. Or use existing holidays such as National Housekeeping Appreciation Week which is celebrated in September.

18. Professional growth opportunities

Offer employees clear career advancement opportunities and mentorship initiatives within your organization. Both of these opportunities allow you to build a stronger workforce and increase job satisfaction.

19. Meal vouchers

The cost of meals can quickly add up. Offer staff meal vouchers for restaurants or cafes on-site or partner with local establishments.

20. Free transportation/shuttle services

Provide free transportation options for employees to commute to and from work, making their daily travel more convenient and cost-effective. You could provide a hotel-operated shuttle service or cover the cost of public transportation. 

21. Child care services

With the growing cost of childcare in the United States, offering complimentary on-site or subsidized childcare allows you to attract a wider pool of talent. This includes parents on low incomes and single parents. 

Measuring the Impact of Staff Incentives

To determine the success of your staff incentive program, you’ll need to measure your ROI through qualitative and quantitative methods. Here are a few methods to consider:

Performance metrics

One goal of your staff incentive program is likely to enhance the performance of your hotel. This means you’ll need to measure performance metrics such as:

  1. Overall guest satisfaction score: Gather scores through guest surveys, online reviews, post-stay emails, and verbal feedback and aggregate the data into an overarching score.
  2. Net promoter score (NPS): Ask guests how likely they’d be to recommend your hotel to family and friends. 
  3. Occupancy: Analyze how guest satisfaction scores influence occupancy rates. Higher scores can lead to increased demand and occupancy.
  4. Retention rates: Retention rates allow you to understand how well your hotel is retaining talent. This is done by counting the number of employees at the start of a chosen period, and then making a note of the employees who leave and join. The formula is as follows:

Retention rate = (number of retained employees / total number of employees at the start of the period) x 100.

Next, analyze and interpret the data. Break it down by department, job role, or location, for example, and compare it with industry benchmarks. 

Employee feedback

Employee feedback is one of the best ways to determine the success of your incentive program. This can be done in a variety of ways: 

  • Surveys: Conduct anonymous surveys among employees to collect their thoughts and opinions on the incentive program. Ask questions about the program's effectiveness, fairness, and impact on motivation and job satisfaction.
  • Focus groups: Organize focus group discussions with a diverse group of employees representing different departments and job roles. This allows for in-depth discussions and qualitative feedback.
  • One-on-one interviews: Conduct individual interviews with employees to gather their feedback on the program. This approach provides more personalized insights and allows for open and honest conversations.

Attendance and punctuality 

The happier your employees are, the more they’ll look forward to coming to work. Measure the attendance and punctuality of your employees to determine the success of your incentives. You can track this by:

  • Collecting feedback from supervisors: Collect feedback from supervisors and managers regarding changes in attendance and punctuality within their teams. This can provide insights into the program's impact on specific workgroups.
  • Using automated systems: Consider using automated time and attendance tracking systems that can record employee arrivals, departures and breaks accurately. 

Employee performance reviews

Performance reviews provide a structured framework for assessing individual and team performance. This is your chance to gather employee feedback, identify top performers, and find out how you could improve your incentives. 

To maximize the effectiveness of performance reviews in measuring the success of incentive programs, conduct reviews regularly and base them on objective and measurable criteria. Involve constructive feedback and goal-setting discussions between managers and employees.

Incentives unlock staff potential

Hotel staff incentive programs help you tackle staffing shortages by reducing turnover and the cost of hiring. How you structure your program or decide which incentives to include depends on your challenges, goals and the wishes of your employees. 

Finally, ensure the success of your staff incentive program by measuring its success over time, adjusting and improving as you go. 

Learn How Canary Can Help Your Properties Thrive

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