Nigel Lobo, COO of Grand Pacific Resorts

How one resort company managed to keep … and in some cases grow … its on-site team.

Timeshare companies are facing an ever-increasing labor shortage as millions of U.S. employees have not returned to their pre-pandemic positions. Former associates are being pursued by other prospective employers and lured with offers of higher wages. Find out what steps Grand Pacific Resorts has taken to hire and retain employees through these unusual times.

Nigel Lobo, COO of Grand Pacific Resorts in California, had the visionary skills to foresee labor issues arising from the pandemic. “Today, we are living through what is being called the ‘Great Resignation’ period, with over 11.4 million line-level employees in all industries leaving or not returning to their pre-pandemic jobs, adding a huge strain on the workforce,” he says. His assignment: Take extra care of our associates – especially during the pandemic lockdown – and get them back to work as soon as practicable.

“As we went into the pandemic and began to shut down our resorts, putting several hundred of our resort staff on leaves of absence, we knew how we treated them then would have a major impact on what happened after we reopened. Our goal was to keep the entire team intact,” adds Nigel. (This was long before the current paralyzing labor shortage challenges were on anyone’s mind.)

Warm-hearted Outreach

Grand Pacific retained their People and Culture team to help housekeepers and line-level staff complete the complex government unemployment online application forms with a call campaign outreach to each of the affected associates. They also realized that the biggest challenge would be the gap in time from when they completed the unemployment application forms and their unemployment checks. To help these associates put food on their tables, they distributed electronic gift cards for grocery stores after helping them complete their unemployment applications. Throughout the program, they remained in touch, asking if they were still struggling. If they said yes, another gift card was sent.

Over 90% of Staff Returned.

“This program was so effective that when we reopened a couple of months later, over 90% of our staff returned,” said Nigel. “A few moved out of state or to a different industry. It was heartwarming to have many associates who could technically have made more money staying at home with their stimulus checks, yet chose to return to work for us.”

When the vacation ownership industry finally reopened, every hospitality property was looking for line level staff, especially room attendants. At the time, Grand Pacific was in the middle of the summer season and needed to hire additional labor. They accomplished this by:

  • reviewing existing staff salaries to ensure they were competitively compensated
  • increasing the hiring wage primarily for room attendants and performing equity adjustments for tenured associates
  • focusing on retention with meaningful incentives and perks as well as treating them as valued members of the Grand Pacific family

Enhanced Benefit Room Attendant Package

Nigel and his team created a benefits package for room attendants by offering complimentary weekend meals at work, beverages, and snacks during their shift, plus a brand-new pair of comfortable work shoes from Shoes for Crews. They also provided incentives for cleaning extra rooms that helped with the workload. These enhanced benefits were really appreciated by the team and further cemented their loyalty to the company.

Career Paths Envisioned

“As we now focus on retention,” says Nigel, “our new hire strategy focuses on their roadmap to the future to encourage them to become excited about a potential career path versus just the job being filled. We talk about the real possibility of promotions from within and share specific examples. We believe it is important to develop learning paths as we bring on employees from all resort departments, sharing our vision for their potential growth and enriching their lives. Retention slows down the hiring process and helps keep our workforce healthy and happy.”

Continues Nigel, “As part of our new Housekeeping Enrichment Program (HEP) for room attendants, employees learn spoken English, computer skills as well as financial skills. HEP helps nourish their personal growth along with their career progression!”

Grand Pacific partners with a local community college for its Leadership Enrichment Program (LEP). Grand Pacific also has their very own General Manager Be Epic Trailblazer Program, to develop future General Managers within the company. They already have four graduates that have been promoted to take on a general manager position at the resorts they manage. Describing these potential career paths to incoming employees helps not only with recruitment but adds to retention of existing timeshare professionals, encouraging them to envision their pathway to the future.

Nigel is fond of quoting inspirational speaker Jim Rohn, “If you work hard on your job, you can make a living, but if you work hard on yourself, you’ll make a fortune.” Grand Pacific Resorts clearly applies this philosophy as it successfully hires, trains and more importantly retains its associates.

Marge Lennon has been a publicist for the timeshare industry since forever. Contact her at Marge@LennonCommunications.com

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