Click on any hotel trade publication’s website, and you’ll find more than an article or two about the looming staffing crunch. After what can only be called a dreadful year, demand is trickling back, and hotels are trying to figure out how to bring back just enough staff to handle it without eating away at much-needed profits.
As hotel recruiter Frank Speranza put it recently in Hotel Business Review, we’re facing a “crisis of severe proportions in terms of the talent deficit.”
There has always been a gap between the hotel industry’s need for revenue management talent and the availability of experienced revenue managers. That gap has widened noticeably during the pandemic, and there is a heightened need for both short- and long-term help and advice in revenue management.
We have closed the revenue management talent gap for more than 500 hotels, and we are ready to meet the new challenges of post-pandemic travel without falling back on a worn-out playbook. As you think through staffing at your hotel, keep these three things in mind.
Our guests have changed.
- The business travel and large group segments of business just don’t exist right now. Hotels that used to host annual conventions for national associations are now putting together student groups, volleyball tournaments, and micro-weddings to fill their rooms.
- The leisure guests who are traveling have new and different preferences than we’re used to, including staying within driving distance of home; spending time outdoors; and seeing family and friends from whom they’ve been separated.
- Cleanliness and availability of services are now priorities for travelers who want to feel safe but also have options for places to eat.
Our teams are stretched and stressed.
- Major furloughs left those still on property stressed about the pandemic, their own safety and the safety of their families. They have had to work more hours than they could reasonably handle.
- Remaining staff were asked to fill positions in which they had no training, such as Revenue Management. This left Directors of Operations and Sales Managers trying to tackle advanced tasks such as distribution channel optimization, building accurate promotions and rate plans, and managing detailed inventory.
- Since Q1 2020, the leisure and hospitality sector has lost nearly 4 million jobs. While a portion of those jobs are now being filled, many of our colleagues have left the hotel business for healthcare, senior living, and other industries.
Our timelines keep accelerating.
- How many versions of a 2021 budget did you create last year? And how many times have you been asked to reforecast this year? The annual cycles that have traditionally governed our work have sped up and multiplied.
- A couple of months ago, most adults weren’t expecting to be eligible for vaccination until summer. Now, all U.S. adults are eligible, and vaccination rates are beating projections. As such, the plans that hotels had in place for bringing back employees are now out the window as pent-up demand makes itself known.
- Even outside of a pandemic, the hotel business runs at a frenetic pace, and while ownership may have instituted a hiring freeze last month, today, the pressure is on to fill those openings.
In other words, change is the only status quo.
As we’ve said before, many of the revenue strategies that used to work in your market are obsolete. At the very least, it’s time to take a fresh look at the demand dynamics of your hotel. If your revenue position is unfilled, know that it will take time and care to find someone who won’t just slip into old ways, but will bring creativity and ingenuity to the position.
Outsourcing revenue management in the short term can give you the much-needed time to hire thoughtfully without jeopardizing your property’s recovery plan. Long term, a fresh set of eyes can evaluate your revenue management department, dusting off old playbooks and identifying unrealized opportunities.
There has never been a more crucial need for skilled, creative revenue strategists. It’s exciting to play a key role in hotel recovery, and we’re getting great client feedback. For example, Paul Reggio from The Hotel at Auburn University & Dixon Conference Center, recently emailed us to say, “We are 900% improved but the competition is only 266% improved. Thank you for your continued revenue guidance.”
We know how costly and difficult it is to be without strategic revenue leadership, particularly in an environment of rapidly changing demand. Whether you need to fill an open position or want ongoing revenue guidance, we are ready to help with your rapid recovery.
KATHRYN BAKER, CRME
Vice President of Strategy
Kathryn is a Founding Partner for Think Up and Executive Director of Strategy for its partner company, Total Customized Revenue Management. She helps her clients with revenue management oversight, strategic property assessments, training and mentoring, and establishment of the revenue management discipline, transition management, and ongoing monitoring of property revenue.