As more than two thirds of hotels continue to experience staffing shortages, hoteliers are offering more pay and a host of incentives to attract and retain talent, according to a new survey conducted by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA). Over the last six months, 82 percent of respondents have increased wages, which hit a record-high average for hotels in December 2023. In addition, 59 percent are offering greater flexibility with hours, and 33 percent are expanding benefits. Nonetheless, 72 percent say they are still unable to fill open positions.

Sixty-seven percent of survey respondents said they are experiencing a staffing shortage, while 12 percent said they are “severely understaffed,” meaning the shortage is affecting their ability to operate. The most critical staffing need is housekeeping, with 48 percent ranking it as their top hiring need. These numbers, however, are an improvement from May 2023, when 82 percent of survey respondents indicated they were experiencing a staffing shortage.

Respondents to the most recent survey are attempting to fill an average of nine positions per property, nearly unchanged from May 2023 but up from the seven vacancies per property average in January 2023.

Ongoing staffing challenges are resulting in historic career opportunities for hotel employees. There are more than 70,000 hotel jobs currently open across the nation, according to Indeed, and, as of December 2023, national average hotel wages were at an all-time high of $23.91 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Additionally, average hotel wages have increased faster than average wages throughout the general economy since the pandemic, and hotel benefits and flexibility are better than ever.

“The hotel workforce situation is slowly improving thanks to record-high average wages and better benefits and upward mobility than ever before,” said AHLA President and CEO Chip Rogers. “But nationwide labor shortages are preventing hoteliers from filling tens of thousands of jobs, and that problem will weigh heavily on our members until Congress takes action. We urge lawmakers to address this urgent issue by creating an H-2B returning worker exemption, passing the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act and passing the H-2 Improvements to Relieve Employers (HIRE) Act.”

As of December, the United States had 9 million job openings, but only 6.3 million unemployed people to fill them, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Methodology: AHLA’s "Front Desk Feedback" survey of 408 hoteliers was conducted January 8-18, 2024.

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