‘People skills’ are essential for the hospitality industry | News, Sports, Jobs

picture by: Photo by Joselyn King

Bob Peckenpaugh, president and CEO of the Wheeling Park Commission, speaks during a discussion on tourism and hospitality Friday at West Virginia Northern Community College. The event was sponsored by WVNCC and the West Virginia Department of Tourism.

WHEELING – Today, people check into some hotels by simply logging into their phones, and a requested drink can then be delivered to them via a room service robot.

Despite new technology, local hotel and hospitality players say they still need to hire humans ‘with human skills’ – those with the ability to provide a personal touch and knowledge. of the region if necessary.

On Friday, West Virginia Northern Community College and the West Virginia Department of Tourism co-hosted a meeting with local tourism and hospitality stakeholders. Among those present were employees of the Wheeling Park Commission, the Oglebay Institute, Grand Vue Park and the Wheeling Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Ennis Smith, director of destination development with the WVDT, explained that the agency received a $5.1 million grant from the Economic Development Administration using US bailout funds. It is to be used for workforce training and educational development of people working in the hospitality and travel industries.

She wanted the experts present to tell the agency how the money could best be spent.

They said they needed to attract more employees in general. It’s not always necessary for entry-level jobs that employees have a background, but they would like them to have at least “some personality.”

Simply showing up for their scheduled job interview is usually a good first step. It’s even better if they have knowledge of the area, they agreed.

Phil Klein, Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development at WVNCC, asked those in the tourism and hospitality industry if the school should offer a course teaching the “soft skills” needed to deal with guests, customers and the public.

“It has to start before they’re even ready to work,” said Olivia Littman, marketing manager for Wheeling CVB. “Sometimes if you don’t have that discussion before high school, you’ve already lost their trust.”

Craig White, general manager of Grand Vue Park, said the park has a history of “hiring for character and training for skill.”

“We’re getting fewer and fewer people with personality, and fewer and fewer that we can train,” he continued.

The country of Peru includes a reception class as part of their primary education. As a result, visiting the country can be a more enjoyable experience, said Bob Peckenpaugh, president and CEO of the Wheeling Park Commission.

“If we required every student that comes out of WVNCC to take a certain hospitality course and training, those people skills would be a great payoff for us,” Peckenpaugh said.

The skills could benefit not just those working in tourism and hospitality, but in any vocation, added Rod Haley, executive vice president of Oglebay Resort.

“It’s still a good tool in life – whether it’s welding, business or whatever,” he said.

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