What is still missing at hotels (and why that’s an opportunity)

About two and a half years ago, a wave of mass layoffs hit the hospitality industry, particularly hotels. Now, hotels can’t fill the job openings they have.

The American Hotel & Lodging Association in D.C. recently surveyed its members and found 97% of hotels report staffing shortages. Half of them said severely so.

Those shortages are most noticeable in jobs such as housekeeping, kitchens and reception. But working at a hotel is not a dead-end job.

“It is not uncommon to start entry level at a hotel and quickly advance,” said Jennifer Fugolo, vice president of advancement at the association.

“There are a lot of programs in place to help folks upskill, learn and grow,” Fugolo said. “It could be recertifications, apprenticeships, informal mentorship. In fact, 50% of general managers today started out at entry level.”

The U.S. hotel industry currently has 130,000 open positions.

The association has expanded a multichannel advertising campaign to 14 cities across the country to raise awareness of the hospitality industry’s estimated 200 career paths, called A Place to Stay. The message is the pay is better than it’s ever been, and so are benefits and opportunity.

“Thinking about the unique perks, the career development opportunities, the breadth of open positions available. We were incredibly intentional to ensure that we have stories of real folks who are working in the industry because we want job-seekers to see others who look like them, and that includes people of color and in leadership positions,” Fugolo said.

The survey found 58% of hotels rank staffing as their biggest challenge.

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Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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