EVEN for an international corporate brand, the Hunts Post Huntingdonshire Business Awards are an ideal way of showcasing a companys community involvement. For Huntingdon Marriott, the winner of 2009s Training and Development Award, recognition of achievement at a local level has also had benefits on a wider stage. Aside from being a stamp of external approval, the award has proved a lure for staff, or associates as they are known, within the Marriott group. Jon Dawson, Huntingdon Marriotts head of human resources, said that within the past 12 months the training reputation at the Huntingdon Marriott had attracted a front office manager, director of operations, human resources manager and a head housekeeper to Huntingdon from other Marriott hotels. The Business Awards have enabled us to recruit an extremely high calibre of key personnel from other Marriott Hotels. Its not unusual for people to transfer internally as their careers progress, and being known as a hotel in which people can progress makes our business appealing. It shows we invest in training and development, and enables us to recruit key talent in our organisation. The Huntingdon Marriott was praised by last years judges for the way it encouraged staff to take charge of the direction of their development, a philosophy which has continued, said Mr Dawson. We allow associates to decide if they want to learn about new job areas, or concentrate and become specialised in their chosen field, he said. All training successes are recognised at our monthly town hall meetings. Its about creating that culture of training we want this hotel to be known as the Marriott to come to in order to develop your career. As well as attracting ambitious associates to Huntingdon, the hotel also takes seriously its role in developing potential staff of the future. The Marriott has forged links with Ramsey Abbey College, and earlier this year staged an Apprentice-style competition for students interested in the hospitality industry. Students were given guidance on marketing, costing and service before being asked to stage their own hospitality event, judged by Mr Dawson and hotel manager Assem Sweidan. Winning students were then treated to an à la carte meal at the hotel. Unsurprisingly given its success, the Huntingdon Marriott has found other hotels looking to mimic its approach, with many looking to increase involvement in their local communities. We often get other hotels asking how they can do what we do. They see our approach, and it has encouraged them to enter awards in their areas and to get involved in their communities, said Mr Dawson.