MIAMI – Hotels are welcoming guests again, but they are trying to handle the boost in business during an ongoing worker shortage.
“It’s a little bit interesting in that there has been a shift in the type of business,” says Tushaar Agrawal, who runs the JW Marriott a few blocks from the White House.
During the worst of the pandemic, guests occupied only five percent of the rooms, forcing Agrawal to furlough and even lay off a chunk of his staff. Now, Agrawal is building back his staff.
“We probably have over 20 jobs posted right now. Again, we’re a great place to work, people like working here,” says Agrawal.
The U.S. Travel Association says the broader leisure and hospitality sector is still down 1.3 million jobs compared to before the pandemic, with persistent voids.
Rosanna Maietta of the American Hotel and Lodging Foundation says housekeeping “continues to be a challenge and always was, but even front desk in the summer and in the hot resort locations, pool staffing, and outdoor roles can be hard to fill.”
Experts fear the lack of staff could impact the quality of a guests’ stay. So, many hotels are boosting wages and benefits to attract more workers.
“The reality is, if we were back to pre-pandemic numbers, the experience tied to staying in those hotels will not be the same as it was for 2019 for anyone that was traveling, simply because hotels don’t have the workers,” says Elliott Ferguson, of Destination DC.
Agrawal is optimistic the industry as a whole will remain resilient and bounce back even stronger.