A team of hotels and hospitality professionals left furloughed and unemployed by the Covid-19 crisis have launched a new social platform driven by mentoring to help rebuild the sector.
Otolo is a free, government-backed platform powered by its community to learn, network, share ideas and develop solutions help the hospitality sector rebuild and recover from the past traumatic 12 months.
Otolo evolved from a pro-bono online mentoring platform offering support to peers and younger professionals who were out of work, furloughed, or working in a fast-changing situation. After being awarded a UK Government grant to develop this into a full service, the team has been on a mission to support the hospitality industry and benefit workers globally at all levels in an ever-increasingly competitive job market.
Otolo Founder and CEO James Lemon set up the platform after his consultancy businesses dried up during the pandemic. Spotting an opportunity to help those out of work in the sector skill-up and improve their employability chances as lockdown lifted, he hired a team made up of those among the estimated 1.6 million UK hospitality professionals – half of the sector’s workforce - who faced financial uncertainty from being on furlough or made redundant during the three UK Covid-19 lockdowns.
With inclusivity at its core, Otolo is an ever-growing community of over 800 members at varying stages of their careers, looking either for mentoring to help further their careers or for mentees to coach and give back to their industry. The platform is used by over 20 organisations such as top hospitality chains Marriott and Accor, leading global hotel schools Glion and Les Roches, and various universities across the UK.
Otolo’s mission is to help everyone passionate about hospitality to reach their potential through mentoring, networking and knowledge sharing creating openness, credibility, and a willingness to give back. The platform includes discussion groups, forums, events and messaging boards, where members can meet each other, find people with similar interests, share articles and insights, and work together to build their skills. Once these connections have been made, hospitality professionals have the chance to connect for a virtual meet-up and then potentially explore mentoring – which can be one-to-one or group mentoring in a Mentoring Circle.
Further developments for 2021 include an industry-first mentoring-powered job board, giving people a chance to access career advice or functional mentoring before, during, and after the application process. This has been developed with Otolo’s hospitality partners and select group of expert recruiters. Otolo has combined mentoring and jobs boards to help attract a pro-active workforce, produce a better recruitment process which will rebuild the teams and cultures of the industry.
Lemon – whose career includes four roles across two stints at IHG and four years at Travelport - said: “Despite the difficulties hospitality and its people has faced over the past year, at Otolo we are excited by the industry’s future. Hospitality will rebound stronger with an engaged and skilled workforce that is passionate about getting back to what they love – which is creating memorable experiences.”
“At Otolo, we aim to play a part in the industry permanently capturing the spirit of giving back, of sharing, and of working together to achieve bold industry-wide goals, initially supporting the recovery, and then tackling areas like sustainability, diversity and technology innovation.”