Marriott says it is engaged in a “fight for talent” as it struggles to fill a 10,000-person staff shortage at its U.S. hotels amid a resurgence in bookings.
In an interview Monday (Sept. 6) with the Financial Times, Marriott CEO Tony Capuano said redundancies during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic had left workers “rattled” about the future of the travel/tourism industry, leading to sharp drops in staffing levels.
“We’ve got to do a consistent job of sharing the narrative that it is in fact an industry segment where incredible careers can be built,” Capuano said. “The ability to tell that story around the globe is more important in the face of this fight for talent than it has ever been.”
Marriott is the world’s largest hotel company, and is facing about 10,000 staffing vacancies at the 600 hotels it manages in the United States, a challenge that Capuano says is “particularly acute” in states like Florida, which bounced back quickly due to rising demand for resort vacations.
Also rising in Florida? COVID-19 infections, which surged in July and August, with the state seeing an average of 20,900 new cases per day by the end of last month.
The evolving nature of the pandemic hasn’t stopped travel this year the way it did last summer. As PYMNTS reported last week, AAA Travel bookings were up at least 11% over levels from two years ago.
Earlier this year, the American Hotel & Lodging Association reported that hotel occupancy for 2021 was expected to average 55.9%, slightly higher than earlier projections of 52.5%. That would be up from 44% in 2020 but still below the average year-round hotel occupancy of 66% in 2019. The association expects occupancy rates to rebound to 61.7% next year.
And while the hotel industry had its best month ever as far as revenues and room rates in July, hotels and restaurants have had to cut hours and services, with as much as 20% of hospitality staff worldwide seeking new jobs less subject to lockdown volatility.
Marriott, which operates more than 7,300 hotels around the world, furloughed tens of thousands of workers and reduced its corporate headcount by 17% last September. Now, the company is “actively and aggressively hiring,” Capuano said, focusing on markets where demand has recovered and offering new incentives and benefits.