15 Tips for Onboarding in The Hospitality Industry

October 22, 2021

Onboarding new employees successfully in the hospitality business.

Hiring for hospitality can be tricky, especially with so many potential employees simply looking for a gig or side hustle that supports them while working on other interests. Your hospitality business deserves dedicated staff that shares your passion for good service. The first step to hiring the best candidates is working out an organized onboarding strategy. 

Read on to discover how to create an onboarding checklist and a detailed onboarding plan for new employees. We also share ideas for onboarding gifts, training, and orientation activities. 

Why is Onboarding Training Important in The Hospitality Industry? 

The hospitality industry has one of the highest staff turnover rates in the US. Constantly replacing and training employees is costly to your business, and it may affect the quality of your customer service. Adopting a comprehensive onboarding program could be the answer to improved employee job satisfaction and lowering your turnover rate. 

The Benefits of Onboarding in Hospitality 

Onboarding is paramount to customer satisfaction in the hospitality industry. Your employees are the face of your business, and they likely interact with the guests more than you do. Well-trained, enthusiastic, and confident staff makes a good impression on your customers. Familiarizing your staff with your standards and processes from day one means a more consistent team for your business. 

What is Hospitality Onboarding? 

The onboarding process involves integrating a new employee into the team while providing them with the skills and confidence they need to work independently. A typical onboarding period is about four weeks.  

15 Onboarding Tips for The Hospitality Industry 

While there is no right way to onboard employees, these 15 helpful onboarding tips may make it easier for you to build a unique program that works for you. Always review your onboarding strategy after a few hires to ensure you’re getting the most value out of your efforts. 

1. Make an Onboarding Checklist

An onboarding checklist helps you organize the steps your new employees must go through to integrate into the team fully. The list helps you plan how you will welcome the new staff member at each stage in the process and helps you follow a timeline. 

What to Include in an Onboarding Checklist? Here are some essentials for your checklist
  1. Meeting the team and showcasing the company culture
  2. Explaining duties and responsibilities
  3. Providing resources and documents
  4. Team building activities 

2. Run a Pre-Boarding Plan 

The pre-boarding process happens before your new employee ever sets foot in your building. Take the time to make sure their space is clean and ready for them to arrive, send out a welcome email before their start date, and provide some details to help them prepare for their first day. It also helps to give your existing staff an introduction to the new employees before they arrive. 

3. Introduce an Orientation Week 

Taking the first week to show your new employee around can help them feel more confident and excited about the job. Restaurant or hotel employee orientation often includes learning the menu and touring the facility. Now is the time to present onboarding gifts and employee handbooks for reference long after the training is complete. 

A special onboarding gift idea would be a customized backpack. 

Shown:: Metro Contrast backpack

4. Do Fun Activities with New Team Members 

Running some fun team-building activities helps calm the nerves and introduces new staff to the team. Raising the energy for the first few days gives fresh employees a boost to help them adjust to their new environment. You can make your onboarding activities educational to help train employees during the process. 

What are Onboarding Activities?

Below are examples of onboarding activities for hospitality staff

  1. Menu taste-testing
  2. Hotel scavenger hunt
  3. Assign a lunch group
  4. Company quiz 

For fun customized swag lunch totes and bento boxes are always a hit.   

Shown: Nona roll-top lunch box 

Shown: Bento Bite Box 

5. Tailor Your Onboarding for Each New Hire 

Everyone’s been the new guy at work before. Chances are, your new hire has been through onboarding at other companies, and you want to wow them by making yours personal. Tailor your activities, and your new employee welcome gift box based on their job description and what you know about their personality. Review your onboarding process before a new employee arrives to check that all your steps are still current. 

6. Create Easy Communication Channels 

Nothing’s worse than feeling lost at your new job during the first few days and not knowing who to ask for help. Make sure your new employee knows they can always reach out for support and show them the communication chain for specific questions. Providing a handbook or some new employee FAQs is a helpful tool. 

7. Put Together an Onboarding Welcome Kit for New Employees

Providing onboarding gifts for new hires makes them feel appreciated and welcomed by the team. A welcome gift box should contain a mix of treats,      spoils, and useful items that they will need on the job.


Wondering what to put in a new hospitality hire gift box? Here are fun welcome package ideas for new staff.  

Stylish pens for on-the-go notes and a cool supply case. 

Shown: Pocketo Slim Pens

Shown: Rains pencil case

A mug for coffee breaks or a travel mug for commutes. 

Shown: Corkcicle classic coffee mug

Shown: Swell travel mug

A pick-up-and-go tote they can use on repeat. 

Shown: Baggu tote

Yummy treats to get them through the day. 

Shown: Belgian chocolates


Something to unwind with after their first day. 

Shown: Santorini Escapist candle

8. Get the Rest of The Team Involved 

Give your existing employees onboarding duties, such as showing the new staff around, taking them out for lunch or hosting a Q&A session. Make sure the team welcomes the new members with enthusiasm and warmth to help calm their first-day nerves. Including higher-level management or supervisors in the onboarding activities is essential. 

9. Get to Know the Person Behind the Resume

Make sure you show your new staff member that you hired them for more than their resume, and you value their presence in your team. Spend some time chatting to new employees, asking them about their interests, and building a trusting and friendly relationship with them. Better work relationships make for higher job satisfaction.     

10. Supply Resources and Support Material 

Make sure you supply all the documents and resources in a new employee onboarding welcome kit that they’ll need to do their job effectively. Give them access to the supplies,  stationery, online tutorials, and whatever training material you can provide. You can also create flow charts and cheat sheets to help them get used to your processes. 

An embossed notebook is always a solid choice for onboarding kits. 

Shown: Public Supply notebook

11. Provide a Mentor for Training 

Partnering your new hire with an experienced team member can speed up their learning process. Let the new employees shadow someone else for the first few shifts to get the hang of their duties and daily tasks. Choose a mentor with an open and friendly personality, and make sure to choose someone with a lot of patience! 

12. Go Over the Duties and Job Description Together 

You can never be too clear when it comes to showing someone what they need to do. New employees often feel nervous about asking questions, and it helps if you explain their job duties to them in detail to make everything clear. Go over a typical daily routine of similar employees and give them some simple tasks to start with. 

13. Don’t Overwhelm Them on Day One 

Put yourself in your new employee’s position. They likely have some anxious feelings towards starting their first shift and meeting their new co-workers. Make sure the first day is not an overwhelming experience for new staff by using it for introductions, gift packs, and fun activities. Choose the second or third day of orientation for more formal training.


14. Add Personal Touches 

Make your new employees feel special! Decorating your building for their arrival or adding a personal note to their desk or locker helps build a pleasant employer-employee relationship. Choose onboarding staff gifts that reflect each new hire’s specific place in the team and include a handwritten welcome note inside the gift box. 

Duffel bags make great gifts for hospitality staff that need to get changed at work. To help them feel included from the get go, you could also include a customized jacket or polo shirt. 

Shown: AScolour duffel bag

Shown: The North Face jacket 

Shown: Men’s pique polo


15. Show Some Enthusiasm! 

This step may seem obvious, but it’s crucial to successful onboarding. Your energy around new team members can affect their first impression of the business and the job. Get your other staff to join the thread of welcome emails or host an exciting meet-and-greet breakfast on the first day. Immersing your new employee in an energetic and enthusiastic company culture on day one sets the tone for their future attitude. 

Onboarding is an essential part of hiring new employees for any hospitality establishment. Running a successful staff onboarding program results in more motivated, better-trained, and confident employees that improve your customer experience and reduce your turnover rate. Gemnote partners with premium international brands to deliver onboarding program swag to the hospitality industry. Make your welcome boxes stand out with a splash of luxury and personal messages. Contact us to get in touch.

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