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Hotel staff shortages could push travel costs to an all-time high

The US hotel industry has been grappling with inadequate staffing and higher wages — and the problems are expected to push travel costs even higher than they already are.

In 2024, hotels across the US are expected to collectively shell out $123 billion in compensation — up more than 20% from 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing data from the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

Bob Habeeb, chief executive officer of Chicago-based Maverick Hotels & Restaurants, told The Journal that he will need to increase wages across his portfolio of two dozen hotels by 10% this year — an advance that will be passed partly onto guests.

Despite lingering staff shortages, hotels across the US are expected to collectively dish out $123 billion in compensation this year — up more than 20% from 2019, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association. fotofabrika – stock.adobe.com

“Consumers are going to have to pay more,” he said. 

Meanwhile, many hotels are still paring back amenities like daily housekeeping services, which were originally reduced or eliminated entirely during the pandemic.

Some 70% of hotels have reduced or eliminated amenities and services on-site in response to staffing shortfalls, Deloitte concluded in a travel report published in September.

Staff shortages compromise the level of service, putting hotel owners in a precarious position, according to The Journal.

“If we’re expecting empathy from consumers, we’re not going to get it,” Habeeb told The Journal.

The hotel industry’s staffing levels even remain below pandemic levels. According to govnernment data, employment in the accommodation sector is down 9% from early 2020, The Journal reported.

Hotels haven’t been quick to turn to technology as a solution — something airports have embraced, Deloitte found.

To cope with smaller staffs, hotels are having employees wear many hats. Amenities like housekeeping have been pared back as well. Rawpixel.com – stock.adobe.com

In response to labor shortages, a staggering 90% of airports have created self-service offerings for travelers. Meanwhile, only 36% of hotels have done the same, according to Deloitte.

Chip Rogers, CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, said that smaller hotel staffs have lingered because of the mass layoffs that battered the industry back in 2020 — when Hilton bid adieu to 2,100 corporate roles, Hyatt announced 1,300 layoffs worldwide and Marriott axed more than 800 workers at its Times Square hotel alone.

Many hotel-industry workers have since switched to higher-paying jobs in other sectors, Rogers said.

The hotel industry’s staffing levels even remain below pandemic levels. According to govnernment data, employment in the accommodation sector is down 9% from early 2020, The Journal reported. Viacheslav Yakobchuk – stock.adobe.com

Also in the four years since, “hoteliers figured out how to do more with less,” Rogers told The Journal.

For example, properties have relied more on food-delivery apps than in-house kitchen staff, according to The Journal.

In addition, the workers that are on staff are being asked to do more, such as check in guests at the front desk and mix up beverages behind the bar when needed, per The Journal, while the same employees that are doing laundry are helping with housekeeping duties.



This story originally appeared on NYPost

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