- fhotels / Flickr
- The New York Times recently reported that, while there are more travelers seeking hotel stays than ever, the hospitality industry as a whole is facing a major workforce shortage.
- The number of guest rooms rose to 5.3 million in 2018 – but with a 66.2% occupancy rate and the seasonally adjusted number of accommodation and food service job openings at 6.1%, there aren’t enough workers to keep things running properly.
- Hotel amenities are affected by the struggling hospitality job market.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
More people are traveling than ever.
That means business is thriving for hotels across the country – but it’s getting to the point where they can’t keep up with staffing needs. According to a recent New York Times report, the demand for hotels is at an all-time high – and the labor market is particularly dismal within the hospitality and lodging industries.
Per a report released on September 9 by Oxford Economics on behalf of the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) and cited by the Times, developers are building more new lodgings, with over 2,270 hotels, motels, inns, and bed-and-breakfasts added in the last three years. That brings the total number of hotel properties in the country to almost 55,900.
With an average occupancy rate of 66.2% for the 5.3 million guest rooms across the US over the course of 2018 (the highest rate since 2005, the Times noted), that means there are more guests to attend to than ever – with fewer hospitality workers available to help them.
“For travelers, the labor shortage might mean lines at the front desk, rooms that aren’t ready at check-in, hotel pools without lifeguards, delayed maintenance and fewer on-site dining options,” Karen Schwartz wrote for the Times. In fact, there are over 1 million unfilled jobs in the hospitality industry, Schwartz wrote, citing Rosanna Maietta, president of the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Foundation.
While this hospitality workforce shortage is forcing some properties to shutter entirely, others have been able to remain in operation while scaling back their amenities.
“The single greatest challenge facing our industry is filling essential jobs to ensure the quality service and amenities our guests expect and deserve,” Chip Rogers, AHLA’s president and chief executive, told the Times.
This staffing issue comes at a time when hotels and residential apartment complexes alike are priding themselves on their amenities
- Four Seasons
Business Insider’s Hillary Hoffower recently reported on the trend of golf homes making a comeback in the US, thanks to a technique commonly seen in luxury apartment buildings: offering lavish amenities (and ones that have nothing to do with golf), like casinos and horseback riding.
And lest anyone think that affluent homebuyers aren’t influenced by the availability of extravagant “extras,” California-based real-estate agent Jade Mills told Business Insider’s Libertina Brandt in February that, in a luxury market flooded with properties that boast sky parks and in-house stock trading floors, her buyers are particularly interested in cushy home theaters and wellness amenities like home gyms.
Hotels similarly tout their amenities and their service in a bid to stand out among the ever-increasing competition.
In their 2019 ranking of the best luxury hotel brands in the world, LTI – Luxury Travel Intelligence evaluated chains based on 123 “touch points,” many of which are specifically impacted by staffing: “Commitment to service levels,” upkeep, the reservation process, food and beverage standards, and spa operations are just a few of the evaluated criteria that depend on hospitality workers to flourish.
The long-term effects of this staffing shortage on the hotel market remain to be seen
- REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Ian Schrager, the legendary hotelier behind hotel brands like EDITION and PUBLIC, told Business Insider’s Katie Warren in March that luxury hotels are on the precipice of a transformation.
Schrager predicted that, over the next 10 years, luxury hotels will decrease their number of rooms – “maybe 80 to 90 rooms” – but that individual rooms will get bigger. He also believes that said hotels will be “very expensive” with the finest details, “catering to that 1%.”
“I see nothing in the middle,” Schrager said. “And I see a lot of less expensive, value-oriented hotels, but very sophisticated and very cool, with lots of entertainment and food and beverage possibilities.”
All this, of course, depends on a rejuvenated hospitality workforce. That itself will depend partially on changing immigration laws – immigrants make up 31% of hotel and lodging industry workers, according to a Chicago Council on Global Affairs report cited by the Times – and an effort to attract more domestic workers to the field. The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation is actively expanding its career development programs in the hopes of expanding the industry’s domestic workforce.