October 10, 2022 | By Joyce DiMascio
The general manager of JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa, Ravinder Dhesi, spoke with micenet about the return of the business events sector and recruitment challenges.
He leads a team that combines long-term staff and a new hires – in some cases people who have left other industries to join the prestigious hotel brand.
Tell me about the COVID-recovery phase at the hotel for business events – how is the market performing?
With the obvious restrictions of COVID-19, conferences and events were impacted throughout 2020, and 2021. 2022 sees the return of domestic conference travel. For the remainder of 2022 and 2023, we see solid growth in conferences and events from the domestic market. International conference travel is also looking at returning in the second half of 2023 and beyond.
Where is the business coming from? Associations, corporates or incentives? Domestic or international?
[The] majority of the conferences [being] held in 2022 are corporate, with services industries and professionals being the highest segment. Having said that, we have seen an influx in enquiries for incentive groups after the rebrand to the luxury JW Marriott brand.
I met some new hires – older staffers who recently joined the hotel – how is recruitment going?
Generally, we are facing the same challenges as most hotels and other hospitality venues. There are fewer candidates, and they now have more options as there are more roles than candidates.
Recruitment needs to have a quicker turnaround and companies need to think about what they offer – other than simply a role and a pay cheque. Having an international brand, and now a luxury brand, helps to attract more candidates however, our recruitment experience is also a key factor in making sure candidates choose to join us.
What kind of training do new staff get before starting their jobs?
All JW Marriott Gold Coast new associates are provided with three days of training based on Acts of Symphony training. Specific training items include: the delivery of JW service, knowing the JW brand, guest expectations, and tailoring the journey and service to each individual. Associates also undertake departmental specific training.
How close are you to having a full complement of staff?
Staffing levels are constantly changing, based on business needs throughout the year.
We don’t think we will stop recruiting at any stage as circumstances change in people’s lives, however, our list of vacant roles has decreased in the last couple of months. We are putting in a lot of effort to keep it this way.
In saying that, we are gearing up for summer so we will be opening temporary roles to ensure we are able to look after our guests’ expectations with the appropriate level of staffing.
The refurbishment of the property and the launch of the JW Marriott was a big thing – how much did it cost? How has the market responded? What have you tried to achieve with the look and feel – why the coastal/forest theme?
Following a $35 million refurbishment, JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa made its brand debut in Australia on 20 December 2020, bringing a new standard of luxury to Southeast Queensland.
Accommodating 223 rooms and suites, the design of JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa is inspired by its natural surroundings and to promote and reflect the beauty and relaxed mood of coastal Queensland. Starting from a generous 42 square metres in size, guestrooms have panoramic views of both the hinterland and ocean with a short walk from famous Gold Coast white sandy beaches.
The refurbishment has been very well received by our guests, with many loyal guests returning since the rebrand and commenting very positively.
What’s the capacity of the hotel for business events?
JW Marriott Gold Coast accommodates 200 ocean and hinterland king guests rooms (including 109 twins), and 23 additional suites.
The conference space on level 2 offers over 2,000m2 of meetings and events space. JW Grand Ballroom is 678m2 and can accommodate 500 banquet and 1,000 cocktail. [There is an] additional 10 meeting and events rooms, as well as the grand staircase and foyer area, ideal for exhibition of all sizes.
Why do you have a kitchen garden?
The JW Garden is a great on-property farm-to-table program, creating a sustainable way for our chefs to elevate the resort menus with seasonal herbs, edible flowers, fruits and vegetables.
Partnering with the likes of Worms Down Under and Sugar Bag Bees, it honours a sense of environmental responsibility and encourages a better relationship to food.
The JW Garden also enables our families and guests to come together participating in herb planting activities and garden tours with our executive chef Paul Smart.