Memorial Day weekend signals the start of the summer vacation season, but many hotels across the country are dealing with labor shortages.
Laurel Ely is a front desk agent at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess just outside Phoenix. The hotel has been overwhelmed with guests since February when more people started getting vaccinated. "It's been very busy, lots of guests coming to enjoy this beautiful weather we have, to sit at the pool, hike, golf, and just relax," Ely says.
While the guests are coming back, not all the workers are. Business plummeted when the pandemic started, and many employees left the industry or the area. The hotel is currently looking to fill 200 positions across all departments. "I've never seen the need for staffing like this unmet as it has been," says John Glynn, the director of public relations at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess.
The hotel is offering an incentive of $500 to new hires. Current employees can get a bonus of $500 if they refer someone who gets a job.
About a dozen miles away, The Phoenician Resort is searching for 50 employees. Denise Seomin is the director of public relations at the hotel. She says, "We have cards that we take with us that we can hand out if we meet someone. 'Hey are you interested in joining the luxury collection and The Phoenician family?'"
Staffing shortages extend across the country.
Benjamin McCarney, the general manager of the Bohemian Hotel Savannah Riverfront in Georgia, sometimes busses tables at the hotel's rooftop restaurant when he's short on staff. "I do love the industry, but we all get tired. You know, I had two days off last month, closing the rooftop bar multiple nights," he says.
The president of Visit Savannah, Joseph Marinelli, says managers everywhere are picking up the slack. "It might be cleaning rooms and scrubbing toilets and, you know, that's a challenge for people that are also responsible for the bottom line and managing their business."
Establishments are asking guests to be patient this summer as the industry works through these staffing issues.
Some state leaders have blamed the labor shortages on enhanced federal unemployment benefits. More than 20 states have cancelled the benefits.