Hotel Staffing Still Down Considerably

According to new AHLA data, the situation is better than three months ago. But is that good enough to satisfy meeting groups when they arrive on property?

Nearly all hotels are experiencing staffing shortages, according to a new member survey conducted by the American Hotel & Lodging Association in mid-September.

Eighty-seven percent of survey
respondents—ranging from economy to midscale to luxury properties—indicated they are experiencing a staffing shortage, with 36 percent calling it “severe.” Those numbers are only slightly better than the last survey conducted in May, when 97 percent of respondents said they were short-staffed, and 49 percent called their situation “severe.”

The most critical staffing need right now is in housekeeping, with 43 percent of responding hotel owners and managers calling it their biggest labor challenge. That compares to the 58 percent of respondents who said the same in May. One major meetings destination, Los Angeles, recently passed a law that requires daily housekeeping for all occupied guest rooms, adding to the staffing challenge.

Hotels are offering potential hires a host of incentives to fill vacancies—81 percent have increased wages; 64 percent are offering greater flexibility with hours; and 35 percent have expanded benefits. Nonetheless, 91 percent of respondents say they are still unable to fill their open positions. Respondents are trying to fill an average of 10.3 positions per property, down slightly from 12.0 average vacancies in May.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, hotel employment was down by nearly 40,000 jobs in August 2022 compared to February 2020.

The staffing challenges have resulted in unprecedented career opportunities for hotel employees. Average hotel wages for 2022 through June are more than $22 per hour, the highest on record. To help hotels fill open jobs and raise awareness of the hotel industry’s career pathways, the AHLA Foundation’s “A Place to Stay” multi-channel advertising campaign is now active in 14 cities, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York, Orlando, Phoenix, San Diego, and Tampa.

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