Meeting Mentor Magazine

February 2023

Hotels Still Suffering from Staffing Crunch

In-person events may be coming back with a bang, but are the hotels that host them ready and able to handle the influx? They’re doing their best, but 87% of members of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) — encompassing the full range of properties from economy to midscale to luxury resorts — said they are still suffering from a staffing shortage, and more than a third said it was severe. The biggest need is in the area of housekeeping, which 47% cited as their biggest staffing challenge.

However, while the data is still daunting, this is an improvement over AHLA’s last member survey, conducted in May, which found 97% having staffing shortages, 49% of whom said the shortfall was severe. This mirrors U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which found that, as of August, hotel employment was down almost 400,000 jobs from February 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic began to shut down travel.

To entice new employees to join the hospitality ranks, hotels are offering a range of incentives, such as higher wages (81%), more flexible work hours (64%) and increased benefits (35%). Average hotel wages already have been outpacing average wages in general since the pandemic, reaching a new industry record high: an average of $22 per hour.

AHLA also is lending a hand by having its foundation continue its “A Place to Stay” multichannel advertising campaign, which is designed to help raise awareness of the hospitality industry’s more than 200 career pathways and entice potential hires to consider filling one of the more than 130,000 open positions nationwide. The campaign is currently running in 14 top meeting destinations: Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York, Orlando, Phoenix, San Diego and Tampa.

“Today’s tight labor market is creating unprecedented career opportunities for current and prospective hotel employees, and AHLA and the AHLA Foundation are working tirelessly to spread the word,” said AHLA President and CEO Chip Rogers.

“With hotel wages, benefits, flexibility and upward mobility at historic levels, there has never been a better time to work at a hotel than the present.”

In the meantime, planners would be well advised to set attendee expectations, especially for the level of housekeeping they should anticipate being available, for the foreseeable future. And be aware that, with so many newbies coming on board, now would be a good time to bring in the national sales rep if negotiations are unusually difficult.

The survey, which was conducted from September 12-19, 2022, polled 200 hoteliers.

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About ConferenceDirect
ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 4,400+ associations, corporations, and sporting authorities through our 400+ global associates. www.conferencedirect.com

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, is a business journal for senior meeting planners that is distributed in print and digital editions to the clients, prospects, and associates of ConferenceDirect, which handles over 13,000 worldwide meetings, conventions, and incentives annually. www.meetingmentormag.com

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