The hotel business is an essential component of the tourist infrastructure, which plays a decisive role in the formation of a quality recreational product. This sector is primarily the area that is entirely focused on the consumer and is dependent on the socio-economic situation in the country. Any hotel enterprise, as a rule, experiences risks associated with its production, commercial, intermediary, and other economic activities. These threats force hotel executives to save financial and material resources, calculate the effectiveness of new projects and business transactions, and take measures aimed at overcoming various dangers. This factor determines the risk of loss of resources or income shortfall compared to the rational use of available funds.
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The primary task of the tourist enterprise is economic activity aimed at obtaining profit to meet the social and economic interests of the working collective’s members and the property’s owners. When considering such a world-famous hotel chain as Hilton, a number of factors are to be taken into account to achieve the sustainability of all its branches in the modern market. Despite the rich history and long period of formation, even such a global network can have problems caused by insufficiently effective risk management policies and the protection of its assets. Constant competition and the emergence of new participants in the hotel business forces the Hilton management to look for ways to maintain a leading position and provide customers with quality service that does not depend on external circumstances. Therefore, under the influence of threats, Hilton hotel is forced to develop its defense mechanisms and improve its branch management skills in order not to lose its client base and remain one of the leaders in the sphere of the hotel business. A plan to minimize danger may be the effective means of combating various risks.
The Concept of Risk in the Hotel Business
Risk as an economic category is a possible adverse event affecting the economic activity of the entity. The danger manifests itself in those situations when it is necessary to make a decision. If there is no urgent need and the decision can be painlessly postponed for a certain period, it makes no sense to take risks. Thus, the threat generates the necessity to make a decision in the conditions of insufficient information and in the situation of uncertainty.
Uncertainty is the source of risk, and the goal to minimize this factor through the acquisition of additional information is one of the important components of hotel managers. In an ideal situation, by obtaining actual, reliable, and complete data, uncertainty can be reduced to zero, that is, the state of complete certainty may be achieved. However, according to Dzhandzhugazova et al., in practical activities, such situations are extremely rare, and in many cases, it is impossible to eliminate uncertainty completely (233). For this reason, responsible decision-makers should assess the risks that result in the lack of knowledge and take appropriate measures to ensure that the hotel network does not experience economic or other difficulties.
As Fraj et al. note, when evaluating the consequences that can lead to uncertainty as an economic phenomenon, it is required to highlight several types (31). Such classification allows considering possible outcomes that lead to the lack of information in order to take timely actions. Thus, the results of uncertainty may be as follows:
- Positive (additional income, increased profits);
- Negative (financial losses, material damage, intangible losses);
- Zero (the result is statistically insignificant).
Thus, risks in the hotel business can be determined as the possible loss of income caused by the lack of information about external factors, their uncertainty, and the imperfection of a certain hotel’s internal conditions. When considering the Hilton chain as the target segment of this market, it can be noted that the information base of this corporation is quite extensive. Having branches all over the world, network specialists work regularly to have access to all the necessary statistical data that can be useful for identifying potential hazards – customer ratings, service quality, and other criteria. Nevertheless, risk assessment is impossible without their identification and systematization, which is carried out on the basis of the developed classifications. At the same time, it is more productive to categorize on several grounds.
All risks that threaten the operation of such a large hotel chain as Hilton can be divided into internal and external. According to Gannon et al., the human factor is one of the most relevant internal risks since it causes a number of other accompanying dangers (67). The following threats are included here:
- Inefficient project management at any stage of its implementation;
- Mistakes in the development of marketing policies;
- The incorrect choice of creditors, suppliers, and contractors;
- The irrational use of resources;
- Intra-firm abuses.
External factors of risks can be conditionally divided into micro- and macroeconomic ones. At the same time, Dzhandzhugazova et al. note that microeconomic hazards are those that are directly related to the business activity of a particular enterprise (229). On the other hand, it is essential to take into account various conditions. The external influences of competitors, counterparties’ own interests, changes in high technologies, the introduction of the scientific and technical process, and other conditions may affect the situation.
Management Risks of the Hilton Network
The parameters of the hotel’s financial management are critical components that reflect the success of the business. Managers should constantly analyze the dynamics of their enterprise’s activities, paying specific attention to the emergence of some alarming indicators. For example, if the unit costs for the production of a certain hotel’s service exceed the expenses of competitors, the business will always be in a losing state (Erdem and Jiang 307). Another potential risk is the unreasonable increase in costs, for instance, unjustified participation in unprofitable projects, the purchase of expensive equipment, and other unsuccessful strategic decisions. The chronic shortage of working capital to finance operating activities may lead to bankruptcy and the need to repay debts on loans taken to solve the situation.
Irregular, untimely, or incomplete payment of wages to the staff is the gross violation of the hotel’s activity, which is fraught with judicial proceedings against the management. Also, according to Dzhandzhugazova et al., if the enterprise is forced to resort to the new sources of financial resources, for example, for on-lending on relatively unprofitable terms, financial activities are also at risk (231). In order to avoid it, competent strategic decisions should be proposed and considered by the leadership boards.
Many steadily low values of key indicators of hotel activities (profitability, occupancy, the average income from guests and other factors) in comparison with the market indicators are the reason for insufficiently qualified management. According to the low liquidity, the non-optimal ratio between the increase in accounts receivable, the size of stocks on the one hand, and the need for short-term financial resources, on the other hand, indicate that the management of a certain hotel misinterprets the current working conditions and admits violations (Aligning Risk, Strategy and Innovation). It, in turn, can lead to the fact that the enterprise will not be able to have the budget for development, and owners will have to look for effective ways of paying off debts and recognizing them in the competitive market.
Competent HR Management as the Means of Strategic Leadership
The successful operation of any hotel business is impossible without a carefully formed staff. It is significant for the team of employees to work not only for a long time but also well to provide guests with high-quality service. For this purpose, the system of personnel management of the hotel should be provided. It is necessary to compile special plans aimed at improving the level of services not only for all employees but also for individual staff representatives. Motivation, in this case, is one of the primary components of successful work.
The management of the hotel is responsible for appointing recruitment specialists (HR managers) who, in turn, are not at the top of the hierarchical ladder. Nevertheless, their task is important since the selection of employees directly affects the quality of work provided and, as a consequence, the satisfaction of guests with the quality of service (Gannon et al. 65). When looking at Hilton, it is possible to develop a specific organizational structure for the board of directors of a separate branch to control HR specialists and require them to report on the work done. In case of complaints from the staff on the quality of this department’s activities, there is a serious reason to think about the competence of its employees. Effective intervention in case of violations can help to exclude any cases of an incorrect approach to hiring employees and, therefore, increase productivity.
In addition to the audit function, the hotel management should also act as a last resort, the board that is able to resolve conflicts and to prevent overstepping of duties among the staff. The psychological aspects of work may include different components – satisfaction with wages, the desire for teamwork, self-development, and other features. According to Gannon et al., in the hotel where the management has an adequate and competent personnel policy, there are usually no problems with the adaptation of new employees, and there are no conflicts on personal grounds (66). Therefore, the leaders of a particular enterprise should monitor the staffing issue no less carefully than the HR department in order to protect the company from potential problems and risks through employees’ faults.
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The System of Work with Personnel
In order for the staff of the Hilton hotel to work efficiently and reliably, it is essential to think over the motivation system of employees so that they could willingly perform immediate duties and could be ready to work for the benefit of the company. As Gannon et al. argue, there are a few approaches that may help to increase the performance of the hotel staff and, at the same time, not to cause disapproval among employees (66). For this purpose, the participation of management is mandatory.
To begin with, it is necessary to develop a bonus system to encourage particularly successful and responsible employees. If the hotel staff knows that a certain award, for example, a cash bonus, is guaranteed in case of successful work, it will be a good incentive for the quality performance of immediate duties. Moreover, healthy competition will appear in the team, which will become the key to intensive activities. However, it is essential for the management of the hotel to ensure that there are no conflicts among employees motivated by envy concerning material incentives. The bonus system should be reasonable and fair so that no risks and contradictions could arise in the team and there could be no judgments regarding the bias of leaders towards individual employees.
Also, the participation of management is necessary for monitoring workers’ satisfaction with their official position. According to Benavides-Velasco et al., there is “a positive relationship between work-family balance, workplace flexibility and other aspects regarding quality of work life on employees’ outcomes such as turnover intentions, job satisfaction and motivation” (80). At the same time, the more interested managers are in maintaining the positive moral condition of the hotel workers, the more likely that the whole personnel will be willing to perform their duties and realize the importance of their roles. Consequently, such a strategy also includes motivation and encouragement.
Finally, one of the important components of a successful personnel policy is the attraction of talented employees and their retention in the company. Despite the fact that the Hilton network is one of the largest in its field, the hospitality business area has always been competitive (Erdem and Jiang 308). The representatives of other hotels are always happy to hire an experienced, qualified, and responsible employee, and the task of the management is to stop such a worker from moving to another company. To do it, all of the above measures can be effective. Also, additional bonuses, for instance, in the form of free insurance may be the effective means of attracting talented staff. At the same time, leaders should not focus exclusively on finding new personnel. It is essential to pursue such an organizational policy that employees who have been working in a particular hotel for a long time could be satisfied with their place of work, wages, relationships with colleagues, and other components of the work. In case all these criteria are met, it is likely that the staff will be satisfied, and new competent employees will be happy to become the members of the team of professionals.
Monitoring Employees’ Activities to Avoid Risks
Using the appropriate algorithm of actions will help to control the activities of all hotel subordinates effectively and avoid risks associated with incompetence of employees, conflict situations, and other threats. The monitoring system can be based on the principle of constant management participation in the working life of the staff and assistance to those who need it. This approach may allow not only monitoring the compliance with job duties but also establishing trustful relationships between the management and the subordinate. Furthermore, it will not let personal factors affect the performance of the staff and worsen the quality of service at the hotel. Such a system developed specifically for hotel leaders can include the following steps:
1. The management should periodically test Hilton’s employees for professional suitability and competence regarding work responsibilities. For this purpose, various psychological training classes are developed, seminars are held, and joint refresher courses are organized (Gannon et al. 70). This work concerns not only senior staff but also junior specialists who also perform an important role, constantly communicating with guests and providing the appropriate quality of service. This measure can be effective for increasing the professional competence of workers and avoiding the risks of poor work.
2. Another step is the application of innovative approaches in the management and tracking of personnel. According to Benavides-Velasco et al., “hotel managers that exhibit a personal commitment to quality have a direct effect on employees’ role clarity” (78). It means that the hotel’s leaders should not only monitor the activities of the staff, making adjustments and proposing amendments but also directly participate in the work process in order to show subordinates interest in achieving the result. A personal example is one of the successful mechanisms for involving people in the policy of continuous improvement of the service quality. As Benavides-Velasco et al. remark, “excellent organizations value their “employees” and create a culture that encourages the mutually beneficial achievement of organizational and personal goals” (78). This measure can help to avoid the risk of indifference to work responsibilities and make sure that leaders do their best to devote themselves to job activities on an equal basis with the service staff.
3. Such a step “collecting the teams globally is another priority” (Aligning Risk, Strategy and Innovation). Due to the fact that Hilton is one of the hotels in the global chain, it is significant to establish such working relationships so that interaction with other branches could be constant and productive. The transfer of experience from colleagues from other countries may be an effective mechanism to introduce new methods for assessing the performance of personnel and monitoring the quality of work. This measure is a successful way to avoid the risk of prejudice against the hotel’s staff. On the contrary, cooperation among the branches of one network may contribute to establishing supportive relationships and developing an integrated training program based on the experience of colleagues.
All these steps can be useful if the leadership makes efforts to implement them. Regardless of the financial profit, the size of the hotel, and other factors, the involvement of subordinates in work may take place in different ways. The correct decision, in this case, is to demonstrate to them a common interest in achieving the set goals. Such operational risks as poor service, employee turnover, guest complaints, and others are unlikely to emerge, and all the participants in the work process will be aware of the importance of the activities that they perform.
Partnering as the Mechanism of Risk Management
One of the elements of competent risk management can be partnering. Meetings with business leaders and the representatives of other organizations may be a useful method to share valuable experience, develop the existing functional base, and adopt successful development strategies. “The risk team needs to have a close working relationship with the strategy team given the complementary skill sets of the two teams and the opportunity vs risk equation” (Aligning Risk, Strategy and Innovation). Despite the competition in the hospitality business, Hilton has always been and remains one of the leaders in this field. Nevertheless, effective business strategies and the new methods of staff training can be the additional means of achieving high results and eliminating potential risks caused by improperly organized personnel, financial, and other policies.
All strategies and goals, according to the chief risk officer (CRO) of Hilton, are discussed among responsible experts and are viewed from different perspectives (Aligning Risk, Strategy and Innovation). Also, different departments can take part in the development of hotel development plans – analytics, IT, information security, and other structural units. Collaborative work aimed at preventing and the timely elimination of risks of any profile is made easier if different group members contribute. For instance, the analytical department can deal with the calculation of financial indicators and, in case of threats, inform the management of the hotel. The employees of Information Security are responsible for maintaining the entire digital base of the enterprise and work in order to prevent the safety of valuable data storage and counter any dangers, such as hacker attacks. The IT department includes specialists who regularly look for ways to improve the functionality of the hotel, add new modern technologies, and make service more comfortable. One of their tasks is to track the innovation market and notify leaders timely about the need to introduce this or that technology into practice.
In case all these departments cooperate and discuss different ways to prevent risks jointly, it will make a significant contribution to creating the sustainability of the hotel in the modern market. Moreover, it will help the company’s management, and leaders will only need to make decisions concerning particular proposals. Certainly, the participation of senior employees is also essential since it depends on them whether this or that innovation is accepted or not. Therefore, partnering can be considered a successful and effective way to prevent risks in the process of work in the hotel.
Functional Responsibilities of Risk Managers
Any external events and the actions of personnel in the internal environment lead to factors and consequences that may pose a threat to the organization. Thus, risk management should pay attention first of all to preventive measures or those methods that mitigate the size of negative outcomes. Risk management protects the organization and promotes its capitalization by qualitatively improving the decision-making process based on the deep understanding of business activities occurring both in the environment and within the hotel (Dzhandzhugazova et al., 230). Thus, in Hilton, the position of risk manager in financial sphere should be created. It will allow the owners of the enterprise to receive the necessary information regarding potential threats timely and to calculate the activities in accordance with the reports of this specialist.
The Stages of Risk Manager’s Work in Hilton
The work of risk manager lowers the level of threats and dangers, protects property interests, and is aimed at improving the company’s image. Five stages may be identified as an effective intervention strategy for the hotel operating in the modern market conditions. These steps can be potentially successful if all the work is done correctly and in accordance with the current financial situation that is studied carefully.
At the first stage, the risk manager should identify risks. The identification process is the system of detecting the threat of the organization’s exposure to internal and external hazards. It implies the high level of a specific specialist’s awareness concerning the nature and direction of the processes taking place in this area. According to Fraj et al., a risk manager should identify the maximum number of threats to which the hotel is exposed, structuring them to prepare relevant reporting documents (32). This work includes the study of all the branches of the hotel’s financial activity, profits and losses, as well as possible bonuses that the organization can receive due to certain measures.
The primary purpose of risk assessment is the detailed description of detected threats in a specific format, which allows further analysis. A risk manager should take into account the consequences of each of the risks and describe them according to the established reporting system, which will allow for their qualitative and quantitative assessment. Certainly, solving the tasks of the first stage, the specialist of this profile closely cooperates with the internal auditor who is also well aware of the enterprise’s financial affairs. However, at the second stage of quantitative assessment, a risk manager is forced to solve those tasks that are more typical for his immediate field of activity (Fraj et al. 36). The main threat of the hotel is the risk of insolvency and, in the future, bankruptcy. It means that the specialist should orient himself or herself in the insurance and financial terminology and have the sufficient knowledge of the technique of actuarial calculations.
There are a rather large number of methods and technologies for risk analysis. The most obvious and often used is the construction of a special threat map. The formation of such a guideline makes it possible to determine the zone of responsibility for possible dangers and distribute material and human resources rationally. It, in turn, allows ensuring the relative safety of hotel assets and conducting accounting procedures correctly.
Risk Management Activities Program
The third stage is the development of the program of measures for risk management. This scheme is the set of tools, methods and techniques of threat changes, such as measures to prevent risks, the establishment of related funds for self-financing dangers and their consequences, and, certainly, insurance procedures. Among mandatory processes in the policy of risk management, specific measures should also be aimed at strengthening the internal control system as the means of identifying threats at different stages of their occurrence.
The Monitoring of Program Implementation
The fourth stage includes monitoring the success of the implementation of a specific action program. It is an important step that involves collecting information. The data received will be further systematized and become the starting point of a new cycle of risk management. All valuable results should be covered by a specialist in threat control and be provided to the senior management as the proof of the effectiveness of the chosen aimed at avoiding risks.
The Verbalization of Results
The fifth and final stage is the verbalization of results, that is, the writing of internal and external reports. External accounts can often be published in the open press, therefore, they almost always bear image essence. Internal reports are communicated to the heads of all the hotel’s structural divisions since each of them should not only clearly know the immediate risks associated with a particular post but also understand the relationship of threats with other departments’ work. Moreover, it would be desirable for all employees to understand their contribution to the overall risk management program and seek to improve it.
The risk management system should be built in such a way that the decision maker (for example, the CEO) does not develop program proposed, although he or she accepts (or rejects) it. Risk identification is the responsibility of a particular manager (several if necessary) who together with the actuarial department develops quantitative judgments and forecasts (Erdem and Jiang 308). In daily work, the enterprise practices internal control over the activities of the hotel staff and their results. For these purposes, the internal audit department is also involved.
Such an integrated approach to risk management makes it possible to distribute the functions optimally and involve the whole leadership board in the process of activities. All the described approaches may be effective in the case of Hilton, and both senior and junior management should take into account the intervention stages to eliminate internal and external threats. The participation of the maximum number of the team members will contribute to minimizing the danger of a financial crisis and will enable to solve the tasks set effectively.
Information System of Financial Risk Management
The information system of financial risk management is designed to not only provide the management personnel and the owners of the hotel with the necessary data but also to satisfy the interests of various external users. As Benavides-Velasco et al. remark, when characterizing those included in the information system of financial risk management, it should be noted that the range of external and internal users’ interests may differ significantly (79). External ones use only that part of the data that characterizes the financial performance of the hotel and its financial condition. The vast majority of this information is contained in the official financial statements submitted by the enterprise. Internal users, along with the above, utilize a significant amount of information concerning the financial risks of the hotel, which is a trade secret. In addition, they analyze a wide range of financial indicators formed from external sources, which are also included in the information system of financial risk management.
It is possible to propose specific proactive methods for neutralizing financial risks. These techniques, as a rule, are more labor-intensive and require extensive preliminary analytical work. The effectiveness of their application primarily depends on the completeness and thoroughness of these methods. Furthermore, they can be used both for work in one enterprise and in the whole chain. However, while taking into account a single Hilton hotel, the techniques for neutralizing financial risks may be as follows:
- The reduction of the list of force majeure circumstances in contracts with partners;
- The collection and analysis of additional information regarding the financial market;
- Forecasting trends in the external environment and the financial market;
- The strategic planning of the hotel’s activities.
Having certain strategic positions, it is possible to manage the economy efficiently. Therefore, first of all, it is essential to develop a financial strategy for the hotel. The aim of the development is to build an effective management system aimed at achieving strategic and tactical goals of the enterprise. Thus, the neutralization of possible negative consequences of financial risks is designed to reduce the initial level of accepted financial threats to an acceptable level (Benavides-Velasco et al. 79). The possibility of using the methods of minimizing risks described depends on the hotel personnel’s experience and capabilities. In order to obtain a more effective result, as a rule, not one but a set of methods is utilized.
Risk Prevention and Reduction Techniques
After choosing a specific set of measures to eliminate and minimize risks, a decision should be made concerning the degree of sufficiency of the selected solutions. In case they are appropriate, the project is implemented, otherwise, it is advisable to abandon it, that is, to avoid risk. Hilton hotel suggests high commercial risks of operations. In this regard, there is a need to use certain methods to reduce the degree of danger. It should be noted that in the world practice, many different and often quite original ways and techniques of reducing threats are used. The most common, widely used, and effective methods of preventing and reducing risk are:
- The reservation of funds;
Insurance as the Method of Risk Reduction
Insurance is one of the most common ways to reduce risks. On the whole, insurance is an agreement under which an insurer (insurance company) assumes an obligation to compensate the insured for losses or a part thereof (insurance sum) for a certain conditioned compensation (insurance premium) (Benavides-Velasco et al. 71). In the case of Hilton, payments may be caused by the dangers or accidents stipulated in the insurance contract to which the policyholder or the property insured is exposed. Speaking in simpler language, the hotel management can insure the enterprise to be safe from unforeseen accidents and thereby protect their property from the need for high costs in case of force majeure circumstances. At the same time, there are no special procedures to perform since all the conventions for registration of insurance contracts are taken by appropriate companies. Therefore, the hotel owners only need to conclude an agreement in order to avoid risks.
Thus, insurance is the aggregate of economic relationships among its participants regarding the formation of a trust fund at the expense of monetary contributions and using it to compensate for damage and pay insurance sums. The essence of insurance is the transfer of risk (responsibility for the results of negative consequences) for certain compensation to someone else, that is, in the distribution of damage among the participants of a particular contract (Benavides-Velasco et al. 86). Hilton’s management can consider this strategy and take specific measures to protect their property and avoid the risks of large financial costs.
Reservation and Diversification
The reservation of funds consists in the fact that the owners of the hotel can create separate funds in order to compensate losses at the expense of the part of their own working capital. As a rule, this method of reducing risks is relevant in cases where, in the opinion of management, the cost of reserving funds is less than the cost of insurance premiums. Virtually, the reservation of funds is the creation of reserve (insurance) resources directly in the economic entity. Therefore, Erdem and Jiang call this method of preventing threats self-insurance (311). This technique of risk reduction may be considered by Hilton’s management and implemented as one of the ways to save funds.
Also, the use of diversification in Hilton hotel can be beneficial for reducing risks. This procedure is the process of sharing invested funds with various businesses that are not directly related to one another (Fraj et al. 32). Diversification contributes to avoiding threats in the allocation of capital among a variety of activities. The representatives of Hilton’s senior management may insure risks by expanding the range of their influence and the services that they can provide. For greater sustainability, they can also penetrate into adjacent sectors, such as tourism, which is closely connected with the hotel business.
Maintaining Risk Culture in the Organization
It is essential to not only implement various activities aimed at preventing potential threats but also to support a specific risk culture. Creative approaches to preserving the financial stability of the hotel may be different, and the primary task to control it lies with management. These are the owners of Hilton and their immediate subordinates who should introduce a set of measures to strengthen risk management policies and work with the staff in such a way that each employee could understand the importance of these activities.
It is equally important to not only secure financial funds but also to achieve full recognition in the hospitable market. According to one of the managers of Hilton network, “our guests are wanting more immersive digital and technology-based experiences, and that continues to drive innovation in our business” (Aligning Risk, Strategy and Innovation). It means that the introduction of modern facilities that provide additional comfort should be one of the priorities in the development of the hotel’s marketing line. The lack of a technical base, on the contrary, may lead to a decrease in the number of guests and, consequently, to losses.
The involvement of hotel employees in risk management procedures is the integral component of successful internal policy. According to Fraj et al., leaders in the hospitable business should make every effort to convey to subordinates the importance of developed and implemented risk protection strategies (39). Despite the fact that the greatest responsibility lies directly on the heads of the organization’s structural divisions and senior management, the role of each employee may be valuable. It is impossible to achieve the sustainability of any domestic policy if it is not accepted and supported by the hotel’s personnel staff. Therefore, the strategies described for working with human resources (material incentives, bonuses, and other methods) should be considered the means to reach the goal and the tools to strengthen a creative risk culture.
A special plan aimed at minimizing and avoiding financial and other risks in the hotel may include a number of conditions. Under the influence of various threats, the management of the organization should resort to specific measures in order to protect the activities of the enterprise and provide guests with the most comfortable stay. Work with the staff is the integral component of the successful implementation of risk management policies. Partnership programs can help to establish contact among the participants of the hospitable business to adopt successful development strategies. The responsibility of risk managers is significant, and their activities include a number of important procedures – the identification, assessment, monitoring, and verbalization of threats. Such special asset protection measures as insurance, reservation, and diversification can serve as hazard prevention mechanisms. Maintaining an appropriate risk culture by the management in the team is the condition of a successful intervention since the role of each employee is important.
“Aligning Risk, Strategy and Innovation: Denis McCarthy, CRO of Hilton.” The Wall Street Journal. 2017, Web.
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