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Talent Management Challenges for Heritage Tourism and Rural Sustainability: A Case Study of Surajgarh Fort Heritage Hotel, India


Thakur Suraj Mai constructed the fort of Surajgarh in 1778. The Fort is now owned by Tikaraj Aishwarya Katoch and Tikarani Shailija. Tikaraj Aishwarya is the son of Princess of Jodhpur and Maharaja of Kangra. They have converted the fort into the hotel. Although the fort is in the Shekliawati Region of Rajasthan, which is a great tourism site because of splendid havelies and frescoes but Surajgarh is a small village and it is a great challenge to attract, recruit and retain the employees for the Surajgarh Fort Hotel. In this chapter, the author will analyze and evaluate the talent management challenges in “rural heritage hotels.”


India has always attracted foreign tourists due to its rich cultural and built heritage. In particular, rural India has very large heritage assets. The growth of the tourism industry has opened up avenues for the development of “rural tourism” in India. Proper planning and management of tourism can be a tool for rural sustainability by supporting the socioeconomic development of localities as it will lead to employment generation (Varma, 2015). International tourist arrivals increased by 7.0% in 2017, the highest growth since the 2009 global economic crisis and UNWTO’s longest forecast of 3.8% per year for the period from 2010 to 2020 (Highlights of UNWTO Tourism, 2018 edition). Tourism has become an important sector in the world economy contributing around 9% to the world’s GDP. India had 10.04 billion foreign tourists with a 14% annual increase in 2017 (ITS Nazar, 2018). For the development of mral India, various stakeholders must come together to strengthen tourism.

Rural tourism facilitates regional development through creation of jobs and income for the local people, consumption of local products by the tourism sector, support to local handicrafts and other economic activities, and improved infrastructure and facilities.

One of the major tourist attractions of India is the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan, which is known for its magnificent “havelis” and “fresco.” The old forts and havelis have been converted into “hotels” and are called “heritage hotels." For the last four decades, some architecturally distinctive properties such as palaces and forts built before 1950 have been converted into hotels that have been classified as “heritage hotels ” by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. About 32% of classified heritage hotels are concentrated in Rajasthan (20%) followed by Kerala. The largest number of heritage hotels is located in Rajasthan (70) (Tourism. 20HOTEL.pdf).

Although these heritage hotels attract tourists both national and international, the major challenge for these hotels is to attract the right talent to manage the property. Managerial positions are difficult to fill due to nonattraction for employment in rural areas, mainly due to lack of basic amenities and other facilities. Urban youth with a degree in hotel management will not want to settle in mral India because of these challenges. Most of the time, even though managerial positions are filled, the retention rate is very low because whenever the manager gets better opportunities in the urban area, he leaves the job. In addition, they prefer to take their families to the mral site where they are working, rather than settling in nearby cities. Most of the time, this is due to the better educational, medical, and employment facilities available in these cities. This leads to high absenteeism among employees which is another challenge.


The human resource function varies across different industry and sectors (Poor et al., 2009). The divergent (contextual) perspective accepts that national, cultural, and sectoral differences affects the management techniques and also the human resource management (Hofstede, 1980; Ronen and Shenkar, 1985; Due et al., 1991; Daley, 2002; Brewster, 2004; Morley, 2004).

The heritage sector employee requires fresh attitudes, specialized training and experience, and distinct competence. Hence, the HR policies and practices for the heritage sector needs to have a different perspective. Right from acquiring, developing, evaluating, and compensating, all practices have to be framed to fulfill the requirement of the heritage industry. The Job and roles for the employees need to be redefined. For example, a role and job of room-service employee for the hotel industry in general and the heritage hotel in particular would have vast differences. Although the broad structure would remain same but the specific competence to suit the heritage requirement need to be customized. The essence of hospitality would remain same but the mannerism would change and hence, recruitment, selection, development, and rewards need to be redefined to align with the organization requirement. “Our understanding of skills encompasses a bundling that goes beyond the technical to incorporate emotional, aesthetic and informational processing and analysis dimensions with a strong focus on the delivery of service to diverse consumers” (Baum et al., 2007).


Talent management is the human capital which contributes to the organizational success (Dries, 2013) and the talent lifecycle is a representation of the stages of interaction between the organization and its human capital, which begins with attracting the right individuals passing through the stages of “...acquiring, onboarding, developing, managing, retaining and even recovering talent” (Schiemann, 2014).

Talent management seeks to attract, identify, develop, engage, retain and deploy individuals who are considered particularly valuable to an organization. By managing talent strategically, organizations can build a high performance workplace, encourage a learning organization, add value to their branding agenda, and contribute to diversity management. For these reasons, HR professionals widely consider talent management to be among their key priorities. (CIPD, 2017)

Talent management is important for the organizations as the “War for talent ’’ is immense. The talent pool is considered the competitive advantage and to keep it intact, organizations need to have employee engagement and retention policies in place. The organizational culture also facilitates the attraction and retention of the top talent. The replacement and the succession plans need to be of utmost importance to be able to have continuous coverage of critical roles.

Talent management would broadly include talent planning (understanding the organizational/business strategy, developing Measurement matrix, workforce planning); talent acquisition (employee-value proposition, employer branding, talent acquisition); talent development (orientation or on-boarding; performance management; learning and development; potential appraisals or capability frameworks; career planning); talent retention (organizational culture, compensation and reward strategy); talent transit (succession planning, transfers, retirement, knowledge management, exit interviews).



The unemployment rates are high but the skilled workforce is in shortage. There is need to increase the talent pool.


Research has highlighted rapid shifts in the demographic profiles of many countries which impact on the supply of labor available to employers in those countries, and this requires many organizations to introduce new approaches in their recruitment and retention policies and practices (Tarique and Schuler, 2010).


The increasing mobility of people across geographical and cultural boundaries progressively impacts on decision making in global talent management (Tung and Lazarova, 2007; Vance et al., 2009).

8.4.4 THE WORK

The workplace is characterized by creating new forms of work as well as new jobs, by the disproportion between the required and available skills, by the shortage of high-skilled workers, and by the rise in the global and virtual workforce. Technology has made the world faster and more connected, has a significant effect on workplaces and the workforce.

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