Blog Post

How To Prepare For The Post-Pandemic Staffing Crunch, As Travel Economy Recovers

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“The big COVID aftershock to hospitality will take the form of severe staffing shortages for select operators.”

Vacation rental and hotel operators be advised: Anticipate a major Spring and Summer staffing crunch, as the global travel economy recovers. 

If you are not feeling it yet then you likely will. It is only a matter of time until travel volumes spike – not to 2019 levels but significantly higher than last year. And, based on conversations with our partners, the recovery is already well underway. 

This revival will create a new challenge – namely, how to backfill the positions that were eliminated during the pandemic.

The Disney effect: Boutique operators are most vulnerable

The big operators are now calling back employees that were lost during the pandemic. A very recent discussion with a vacation rental partner operating in Orlando, Florida highlights the implications here. 

Disney clearly dominates the hospitality world in Orlando. When the pandemic hit, demand for accommodations crashed because the market relies so heavily on international and resort visitors.

Things are now starting to turn around as travel restrictions lift. As a result, Disney is hiring again. With the resources at its disposal, Disney (and dominant players in other regions) will have the upper hand with recruiting and retaining the best local talent – paying premium salaries and benefits for boots on the ground e.g. housekeeping as well as customer relations teams.

This will leave smaller operators at the whim of labor markets that are vastly undersupplied.

The talent has moved on or is hesitant to come back.

To further exasperate things, many hospitality workers have since moved with their careers and training. Some of our partners were forced to reduce staff by as much as 80 percent.

The staffing situation was already bad before the pandemic. The hospitality industry was struggling to convince the broader workforce to make a career out of it.

Congress also recently (March) passed another massive COVID relief package. This could discourage or delay full employment since much of that relief will come in the form of extended unemployment benefits.

What to do about it

Over communicate, over communicate, over communicate. Filling essential operations roles e.g. housekeeping, front desk etc. will be the biggest challenge due to local labor market restraints.

However, vacation rental and hotel operators can, to a certain extent, compensate by overcommunicating. In other words, pick up the phone, be attentive, and over communicate any gaps or lags in service. As we’ve noted in previous blog posts, brand is absolutely critical to boutique operators

Furthermore, staffing virtual guest relations teams is achievable with the right approach. At Extenteam, we work on both sides of the equation i.e. recruiting the best virtual talent + a tried and tested talent management layer that helps ensure consistent coverage for your guests.

In addition to recruitment, we coordinate days off, settle kinks in team workflows, and excel at retaining your top team members. Our dedicated team members are already trained and work exclusively for you, as an extension of your team.

Sometimes, our partners use us as a strategic sounding board. Other times, they need real advice on how to structure workflows, incentives, and technology applications to create happy and efficient teams – particularly during this turbulent era in which we live and work.

Get ahead of the curve. Schedule a free consultation with me to discuss how to prepare for the BIG SUMMER STAFFING CRUNCH.

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