AHLA: Staffing crunch shows signs of improvement

Nearly all hotels are experiencing staffing shortages, according to a new member survey conducted by the American Hotel & Lodging Association, although that number is less than it was a few months ago.

A full 87 percent of survey respondents indicated they are experiencing a staffing shortage, 36 percent severely so. The most critical staffing need is housekeeping, with 43 percent ranking it as their biggest challenge. 

Those numbers are slightly better than in May, when 97 percent of respondents to an AHLA member survey said they were short staffed, 49 percent severely so, with 58 percent ranking housekeeping as their biggest 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—but 91 percent say they are still unable to fill open positions. Respondents are trying to fill an average of 10.3 positions per property, down from 12 vacancies in May. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of August, hotel employment was down by nearly 400,000 jobs compared to February 2020. Hotels are looking to fill many of the jobs lost during the pandemic, including more than 115,000 hotel jobs currently open across the nation.

These staffing challenges are resulting in historic career opportunities for hotel employees. National average hotel wages for 2022 through June are more than $22 per hour—higher than any other year on record. Since the pandemic, average hotel wages have increased faster than average wages throughout the general economy. And hotel benefits and flexibility are better than ever. 

To help hotels fill open jobs and raise awareness of the hotel industry’s more than 200 career pathways, the AHLA Foundation’s “A Place to Stay” multichannel advertising campaign now is active in 14 cities: Atlanta; Baltimore; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Houston; Los Angeles; Miami; Nashville; New York; Orlando; Phoenix; San Diego; and Tampa, Fla. 

Last month, AHLA established Sept. 1 as National Hotel Employee Day in the National Day Calendar. National Hotel Employee Day will be celebrated annually to thank hotel employees for their work and to recognize the integral role they play in the nation’s travel, tourism and hotel industries. 

AHLA’s latest Front Desk Feedback survey of nearly 200 hoteliers was conducted Sept. 12-19.