Hotel leaders from around the country met in Miami to talk about changes and best practices to cope with the “Great Resignation” in their industry. A lot has changed in two years.
The American Hotel and Lodging Association’s first in person conference since the pandemic began was held at the Hyatt Regency. This comes as worker turnover rocks the industry ahead of what’s expected to be a historic season of travel and tourism.
NBC 6 Investigators reported earlier how hundreds of thousands of Floridians quit their jobs every month in the “Great Resignation.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics measures quit rates for specific industries. The latest data shows more than 6% of hotel and restaurant workers quit their current jobs every month.
“The quit rate is a concern. They’re coming into the industry. They’re leaving the industry,” said Chip Rogers, President and CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.
The gist is Florida and the country as a whole has an expanding economy. So there are more job openings available for the same pool of workers. Workers quit when a better opportunity is available, driving up wages.
The economy added 467,000 jobs in January according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many more than economists expected.
“It does seem as though people are feeling more comfortable about going out, going to restaurants. I would say that’s all very good news,” Mark Heppenstall, President and Chief Investment Officer at Penn Mutual Asset Management told NBC News, warning however a new wrinkle in the pandemic could be just around the corner.
“We’re seeing enormous demand across all industries. We haven’t seen this before where all industries are looking for more people right now,” said Rogers.
Workers in the food and hotel industry tell NBC 6 they’re going to be asking for more money and benefits, especially as government unemployment and COVID aid is ending.
After nine straight years of a growing industry, many hotel owners had never experienced a downturn. 2020 was the worst year on record for the industry according to the association.
Rogers tells NBC 6 many hotels don’t have the staff to keep all of their hotel rooms open and available, driving prices up for the consumer. Adding to that, pay for some positions such as cleaners have increased 25% in some places because workers have other options.
The association recommends hotel owners do creative things to keep their employees happy and turn a job into a career. At times, it means recreating a traditional hotel career path, giving them more opportunities to go up the ladder.
“What is the pathway to success?” said Rogers, “people get excited about that. But if you just take them, put them in a job and walk away, they’re not going to stay very long.”
Miami has been the number one market in the United States for the hotel industry during the pandemic, per the association. A large part of that reason is state and local leaders decided to keep many businesses open despite criticism over public health.
The worker crunch, the hotel room shortage, and the incredible demand to travel coming after the pandemic will lead to an increased prices across the board according to industry experts.