Hotel industry faces worker shortage

Published: May. 12, 2021 at 6:52 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Hotels across the country are having a hard time finding workers.

Employees are working long hours and doing double duty to accommodate guests.

We’ve been hearing so much about restaurants struggling to find workers, but the hotel industry is also facing shortages.

And one hotel owner said that shortage is forcing him to turn business away.

The tourism industry is rebounding with more people getting COVID-19 shots and communities lifting mandates.

That’s good news for travelers, but many hotels across the nation don’t have enough staff to accommodate the influx of guests.

“As a result of the pandemic, most of the hotels had to shut down the majority of their operations about a year ago and it’s been slow to come back, but now group business is starting to come back and there are lots of opportunities at our hotels, especially, throughout the Birmingham area,” said President & CEO of the Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association, Mindy Hanan.

But with so many people collecting benefits, allowing them to stay home, Complex General Manager for the Sheraton and Westin Birmingham Hotels, Steve Miller, said there’s less incentive for them to come back to work.

“When the pandemic first hit, we put people on furlough and layoff, and so our first priority was to re-contact all those individuals and tell them that their jobs are here for them if they would like to come back, and in some cases, we’ve had great success with that and in other cases we’ve found that the Amazons and Targets of the world are offering a more competitive wage,” Miller said.

Employees at Baron Hospitality are wearing multiple hats to deal with the shortage, and in some cases, they’re turning guests away.

“When someone who is used to working 40 hours a week is now pulling 60 or 50 hours a week, it takes a toll on a person over time. And so a lot of places that once had great service…is now subpar at this time,” said Principle of Baron Hospitality, Sanjay M. Patel.

The hotel managers said they’re all looking forward to June 19th, when Alabama will end all federally funded pandemic unemployment compensation programs.

They’re hoping more people will be encouraged to come back to work at that time.

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