The Marriott Hotel will officially begin advertising jobs this week and the official opening of the hotel is likely to be pushed back to late this year.
Stabroek News was made to understand that the directive to advertise was initiated by the new General Manager, Roberto Grisi. The hotel will be seeking both management and ancillary staff which will most likely be up to 250 positions.
This newspaper was told that training for the staff will be vigorous and should be completed in a couple of months. Management as well as supporting staff are to be sourced from Guyana. Stabroek News was told that some of the ancillary staff would not be hired within the next few weeks and that janitorial and maintenance will be brought on closer to the opening date.
The Marriott brand offers a variety of training and development programmes including 8-12 weeks focusing on internships, apprenticeships and trainee positons. It is yet to be seen if the Guyana Marriott hotel will be utilizing staff from within the region to act as mentors and if they will be a fixture in the employment landscape of the country. While Stabroek News was made to understand that staffing needs would be filled by Guyanese, the Marriott brand has utilized mentoring consistently to ensure five-star staffing results.
According to the Marriott Group’s website, the Voyage Global Leadership Development Program lasts anywhere from a year to 18 months and is a “paid leadership development program for recent university graduates and offers a number of opportunities to enrich your future career”. The training and development will not be the same in each country in which the hotel operates, however to maintain the brand and the level of expectation, processes will need to be streamlined.
The original opening date was to be August but this has since been pushed back according to reliable sources to October and will most likely be pushed further back to coincide with the high traffic during the Christmas holidays.
Customer service and staff training have been problematic for the tourism industry in Guyana and have been highlighted frequently as issues which need attention. President of the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana, Kit Nascimento had told Stabroek News that he understood the potential challenge for the Marriott in hiring competent staff who will have the ability to provide five-star service.
He had stated that customer service has remained a consistent challenge in Guyana across various industries, but especially the service and tourism sectors. “It is an ongoing challenge. It is a challenge that we all have to meet,” he said in relation to training and hiring staff and transforming customer service across the board.
Nascimento had said that the Marriott may bring on staff from across the region to facilitate training, but outsourcing of work, even in the interim, goes against what was promoted as one of the selling points of the US$58 million hotel by the government that positions would be mainly held by Guyanese. The government had come in for a lot of flak after it was revealed that only Chinese nationals were working on the construction of the hotel.
There is a general consensus in the industry that vigorous training could take up to six months to meet the demands of a five-star hotel.
The Marriott project has been hugely controversial and the Hong Kong-based investors who will be taking a US$8M equity stake in the venture were only announced in May this year.