Creative & effective recruiting strategies for hospitality in 2021

As spas continue to face staffing shortages, let’s try to find some creative and effective recruitment strategies for hospitality in 2021. 

Spas, wellness, and hospitality businesses continue to tackle a staffing shortage. They are among the hardest hit industries out of any in the past year.

On top of that, experts say we’re currently in a candidate’s market, meaning companies must compete more than ever to attract available talent. It’s not enough to offer a job. You have to be a place people want to work and a better place to work than your competitors’.

Competitive pay and benefits obviously help, but even beyond that, recruitment may take extra effort and creative thinking today.

Here are seven creative & effective recruiting strategies for spa, wellness, and hospitality in 2021.

Improve your employee experience

Ask yourself why people would want to work for you. Do you have a list of reasons why talent would choose to work at your company over any other – beyond just needing a job? If not, well there’s your first issue right there and you need to fix it. Start working on your employee experience. Put some thought, time, and effort into it. Learn what makes a workplace attractive to employees and what makes a great manager in spa and wellness, and become that.

Become a student of how to become a great leader and apply what you learn. Until you do this, you may always have staffing problems, turnover, and recruitment issues.

Work on your employer brand

Just being a great place to work isn’t enough. You also need to communicate this to the world through your employer brand, which is the image you present to candidates as an employer.

“An employer brand is an important part of the employee value proposition and is essentially what the organization communicates as its identity to both potential and current employees. It encompasses an organization’s mission, values, culture and personality. A positive employer brand communicates that the organization is a good employer and a great place to work. Employer brand affects recruitment of new employees, retention and engagement of current employees, and the overall perception of the organization in the market.” – SHRM

A great employer brand is what makes people say “That looks like a great place to work! I want to work there.”

Your employer brand doesn’t just happen. It’s something you have to work on. In the same way that you put a lot of thought into what sort of clients you want to attract, and effort into creating the public facing image that attracts those customers, you need to put the same thought and effort into the public facing image that you create to attract employees.

Get serious about social media

Social media is the most cost effective way to reach a broad range of people and it’s free to use most platforms (monetarily, anyway). If you don’t have social media accounts, create them. You can reach potential employees on LinkedIn, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter. If you have them, use them. An unused social media account looks worse than a non-existent one. According to Sprout Social, research conducted prior to 2019 found that:

  • 73% of 18-34 year-olds found their last job through social media. 
  • 59% of recruiters rated candidates sourced through social media as “highest quality.” 
  • While 94% of recruiters use social media for their jobs, only 39% of all employers use social media for recruiting and hiring. 
  • 83% of job seekers prefer Facebook over any other social network. 

Don’t just post about your team when you’re hiring and need staff. That’s like only calling someone when you need a favor. Your regular posts should showcase not just your products and services but also your workplace, team, and employer brand.

Get your team members involved

If your team loves their jobs they should be willing to participate in your recruiting efforts. Before getting to that point, also consider how you make your team feel invested in the success of your company. This means communicating goals and involving them in the decision making process. If someone feels like they are an integral part of the success of something, they are more likely to actively work towards contributing to that success.

Ask your staff to post about their jobs on their personal accounts. If they love where they work, they are your employer brand’s greatest assets, and they should be more than willing to make the effort to post some creative content in their pages. These might be pictures or videos in which they talk about or show how much they enjoy their jobs, or maybe they want to do a TikTok dance about it.

Take advantage of social media groups

Go beyond just posting jobs on your company page or personal profile. Facebook and LinkedIn groups are great places to communicate with people in your industry and recruit team members. There are groups for just about any industry or niche where you can discuss issues with peers and meet new talent online.

Joining groups allows you to reach a large number of people (depending on the size of the group) without having to take the time to build your own audience. It’s a good idea to actively engage with others in the group before starting to recruit rather than just jumping in and posting jobs. If you become a known presence, people will be more likely to look at your job, share it, or apply to it.

Get out there

Sometimes even a fantastic employer brand and a high level of awareness isn’t enough. For example, resort spas in remote locations may have small candidate pools unless they bring in staff to live onsite.  

In that case, you may have to get out and find new team members at schools and events. Attend job fairs and conferences, visit massage and esthetician schools, and consider looking into creating an apprenticeship program. Visit schools and partner with those that offer placement programs.  

Some spas have partnered with schools to recruit and train staff, or even create their own school. In a recent interview with Spa Executive, Pat Makozak, Spa Director at Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, talked about a time Four Seasons did just that. She said, “One property I manage is in a very isolated small community. It’s a challenge to find employees and we were always trying to import people to work at the hotel and spa without a lot of success. So, we connected with a massage school here on Maui, and they very creatively found some space to set up a massage school at the property.

“There’s not a lot of opportunity on that island except for the tourist industry and most of the young people were leaving. This gave those getting out of high school an opportunity to stay. It was a good idea but it took the right spa director to really commit to it and she was able to graduate 10 people in her first year of overseeing the program. At least seven of those ended up working as massage therapists in the spa.”

Build a good referral program

Offer referral bonuses to your team. These may include monetary bonuses, time off, or gifts. The findings of one study suggest that the thought of a gift of something one wouldn’t necessarily buy themselves may generate more excitement and enjoyment than the promise of cash, which would just go towards bills or living expenses.

Another suggestion is that the gift of an experience (restaurant dinner, wine tasting, skydiving session, or tickets to a sporting event, for example) may prompt employees to associate the act of referring a friend with a good memory.

Consider offering small rewards leading up to hiring. Most employee referral programs only reward after the new person is hired. If you want people to keep referring their connections, start sooner, and divide the reward up over the first year of employment. For example, offer a smaller sum or reward when the referred person makes it to the interview stage. Offer something when they are hired, and then at three, six, and 12 month intervals, for a total of $1,000 when the new employee has been with you for a year. Or offer small gifts at these markers with a large one at the end of the year.

Acknowledge those who do well like you would with any other employee rewards program, to drive other employees to participate and create friendly competition.


These are just some of the more effective recruitment ideas we know about. Do you have your own creative and effective recruitment solutions that have worked for you? We’d love to hear about them and maybe we will feature you and your ideas in future issues.

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