Two pieces of news this week underscored the emerging labor crisis for hospitality suppliers, which could become a significant issue for the meetings and events that rely on those suppliers.
First, a survey of more than 13,000 former hospitality workers conducted by online employment-search firm JobList found that more than half of those workers would not go back into hospitality unless necessary, and more than one-third would not consider going back even with pay increases or other incentives.
The survey asked the former hospitality workers their reasons for wanting to find another field. They could select more than one answer. Over half (52 percent) want a work environment with less-strenuous physical demands; 45 percent are looking for higher pay; 29 percent want better benefits; 19 percent want more schedule flexibility; and 16 percent want to work remotely.
The hospitality industry in the U.S. is presently down 2.2 million jobs since 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Labor—though some hotel companies are making changes to reduce the number of workers they’ll need going forward. At Meeting Professionals International’s World Education Congress in June, Michael Massari, chief sales officer for Caesars Entertainment, told MeetingsNet that “one change that’s likely to become permanent at hotels is that daily housekeeping will go away unless guests specifically ask for it.”
In early July, Hilton was the first major hotel company to make that change, announcing that all its brands except for Conrad, Waldorf Astoria, and LXR would conduct daily housekeeping only for those guests who request it. “Our guests have told us that they have varying levels of comfort with someone entering their rooms after they have checked in," Hilton said in a press release. "We encourage our guests to call the front desk to request room cleaning, and our team members stand ready to assist with extra towels or amenities." One new option: a “light service” that happens every other day, where a housekeeper simply provides new towels and amenities and empties the trash cans.
What’s more, a recent article from The Points Guy noted that Ray Bennett, chief global officer for Marriott, said that “more and more of our guests have actually asked that [housekeeping not] come in their room.”
While such a change might not be top of mind for planners as they coordinate events, communicating to attendees any changes in on-property services is key to maintaining a satisfactory experience. In The Points Guy article, one business traveler said she didn’t realize that there was no daily housekeeping at her hotel until she came back to her room in the evening and had no clean towels nor coffee and other amenities. “I called downstairs and they explained they were servicing rooms only every three days. I’m fine with that; I just want to know!”