Industry NewsAHLA: 76 Percent of Hotels Are Experiencing Staffing Shortages

AHLA: 76 Percent of Hotels Are Experiencing Staffing Shortages

WASHINGTON—More than three-quarters of surveyed hotels are experiencing a staffing shortage, and hotels are increasing pay, benefits, and perks to recruit and retain employees, according to a May survey of hoteliers conducted by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA).

Over the last six months, 86 percent of respondents have increased wages, 52 percent have offered greater flexibility with hours, and 33 percent have expanded benefits to cope with the nationwide workforce shortage. Nonetheless, 79 percent say they are still unable to fill open positions.

Seventy-six percent of survey respondents said they are experiencing a staffing shortage, and 13 percent reported they are severely understaffed, meaning the shortage is affecting their hotel’s ability to operate. The most critical staffing need is housekeeping, with 50 percent ranking it as their top hiring need.

These survey results indicate a worsening workforce situation for hoteliers over the last few months. In a January 2024 survey, fewer respondents (67 percent) said they were experiencing a staffing shortage, and fewer (72 percent) said they were unable to fill open positions.

In the May survey, however, respondents said they are attempting to fill an average of seven job openings per property, down from almost nine positions per property in January.

These staffing challenges are resulting in historic career opportunities for hotel employees. Since the pandemic, average hotel wages have increased faster than average wages throughout the general economy, and hotel benefits and flexibility are better than ever.

“Strong summer travel demand and a nationwide workforce shortage have combined to create more pay, perks, and upward mobility for current and prospective hotel employees,” said AHLA Interim President and CEO Kevin Carey. “But hotels need access to more workers to continue creating jobs. AHLA is lobbying Congress and the administration for a variety solutions to grow the workforce, while the AHLA Foundation’s Empowering Youth and Registered Apprenticeship programs continue to give workers the tools and support they need to enter, advance, and succeed in our industry.”

As of April, there were 8.1 million job openings in the United States and only 6.5 million unemployed people to fill those jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are tens of thousands of hotel jobs currently open across the nation, according to Indeed.

AHLA is calling on the Department of Homeland Security to expand the workforce by making available nearly 65,000 additional H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas as soon as possible, under the authority Congress gave it as part of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act.