A small sign on the chest that says Leticia or Agustín is all the identification an employee working at the Hilton Garden Inn hotel needs. The use of their first names is a detail that demonstrates the closeness that makes this company a special place.
For its general manager, Agustín Maddocks, Hilton is the best place in the country to work, “because of its team, which is the basis of everything; the culture of the organization that is summed up in the hospitality that characterizes us, that is our essence”. In short, for them, the details make the difference.
“Day by day we pursue our greatest purpose: to fill the earth with light, warmth and hospitality,” Maddocks said.
What is it that makes Hilton occupy the best place to work for Great Place To Work (GPTW)? According to its general manager, the chain has a clear philosophy: “people first” and that “It starts from the talent selection process, the formation of the team, the dialogue from the beginning”.
In this sense, he explains that seeks to align talent with the principles of the organizationthese are: “double the social impact and halve the environmental impact on our communities”said the Hilton head.
The actions carried out by the hotel chain to comply with its maxim range from donating your supplies to people in need (such as towels and soaps) to the permanent participation in educational centers to attract more people to the hotel and tourism industrydespite “the adverse situation” in which the sector was submerged by the covid-19 pandemic.
The brand deploys, in its hotels around the world, different activities to “know the reality of its employees and preserve the balance between body, mind and soul”, such as physical exercise and meditation, Maddoks explained. “This is what makes the Hilton culture grow year after year” and, in turn, be recognized by GPTW.
One of the activities that this chain develops among its employees is “guest for a day”. This program consists of a worker occupying the shoes of a client. This way, the employee feels “the experience, the guest experience” and, consequently, knows the details to provide, then, “a quality service”explains the general manager.
Hilton pursues “excellence for its client” and that is why “excellence in talent” is previously sought, Maddocks pointed out.
Hilton and society
“We seek to bring our culture to the environment.” In this way, Maddocks explained to Coffee & Business that the hotel chain is “committed to its communities.” In fact, Hilton has worked together with different organizations, such as the Down Foundation of Uruguay, Honrar la Vida and Fundación Forge.
Hilton managed to be “the best place to work in Uruguay”, according to GPTW, in the ranking of companies with less than 150 employees
The pandemic: the challenges of yesterday and today
Maddocks pointed out that one of the biggest challenges ahead of him at the helm of Hilton is retaining “hotel and tourism agents” who are discouraged by the context of the health crisis or who are seduced by other businesses. Furthermore, he highlighted the need to attract more agents. The Hilton’s general manager said in dialogue with Coffee & Business that the hotel industry maintains “sustained growth” and that, now, the primary objective is to “recover the rates” that hotels had in pre-pandemic times.
Since the health emergency began in Uruguay “we had clear, direct and concrete communication; everything was triggered in 10 days, we did not have manuals and there was tremendous uncertainty, ”Maddocks recalled, but the manager tried to maintain stability in the company: “We seek to generate certainty in that context talking: we made a round at the hotel and I spoke face to face with each one of what was happening with the hotel and how we planned to solve the situation”.
The manager also emphasized the importance of updating the scenario every time something new related to the pandemic happened and how the work team intended to respond to the new situation. “We cannot lose sight of the fact that all the hotels in the city were closing, this made the situation even more complex and had an impact on the team; until the last moment we didn’t know whether to close or not”, recalls the manager.
They were difficult times for hotel companies that were particularly affected as a result of the confinement measures imposed by the countries and the low flow of tourists.
However, the handling of the Hilton meant that, since October 2020, “nobody on the team was in total unemployment insurance and all team members had already recovered,” Maddocks specified.
The partial unemployment insurance tool allowed them to have instead of two people in total unemployment insurance and one working, all three in partial unemployment insurance and “everyone working at least 10 days each; not many did this,” she noted. The way in which the Hilton managed the pandemic meant that, despite the situation, “the environment in the company was not affected.” Even Maddocks reflects from a distance: “This strengthened the work team a lot internally.”
The fact that One of the hotels has not been closed, no matter how low vacancy was, it made the other two in the chain open faster (one closed for three months, the other for five). “This was quite an achievement,” Maddocks pointed out, “because some hotels closed for more than a year.”
The chain’s general manager, who is also Secretary of the Association of Hotels and Restaurants of UruguayIt showed itself according to the evolution that this sector has presented in recent months. In this sense, he told Coffee & Business what in the city of Montevideo “the occupation was growing; next year we will not exceed 30% beyond November (when the Conmebol cup finals took place); in December it reached 50%; January ended at 40% and for February we estimate that it is above the figures of the previous month“, Held.
In this sense, the expert in the field added that “the increase in occupation is sustained and that, when this happens, it produces calm.”
For Maddocks, The biggest challenge continues to be raising the average rate, “which was left very far behind” as a result of the health crisis. Today, the rate is 30% below than it was during the pre-pandemic, he noted. “The great challenge for this year is to increase the cost of the rate.”
For Maddocks, the management that the Hilton made of the covid-19 pandemic has to do with the position that the organization occupies in the ranking prepared by GPTW: the best place to work.
The Hilton chain was founded in the United States in 1919. Currently, it is present in 78 countries, including Uruguay since 2015 with three hotels: one in Buceo, another in Carrasco and a third in Punta del Este.