By James Kennedy, Assurance & Marketing Program Director

An insightful article I recently read titled “When Demand Returns, Will Your Hotel be Staffed Correctly?” by the president of Hospitality Performance Systems, Inc., got me thinking. Among the points it made regarding hotel staffing post-pandemic was to consider focusing on the short-term needs of your hotel.

 

The article said, “When making the critical decision to bring back your past team members, the last thing you or your team members want is to be brought back for a short window of time and then laid off again. Consider the use of contract labor to handle your short-term managerial needs. Hourly temp labor will help the hotel deal with the initial fluctuations in demand until more stabilized business is confirmed. Such decisions will allow the hotel to avoid the creation of further anxiety and false hope for these valued team members and set the proper stage for when the hotel is truly ready to commit to their permanent return.”

 

I couldn’t agree more and have actually been conveying very similar thoughts to the brand franchise owners I’ve been talking to lately. I feel these “pillars” are critical in maintaining proper staffing to provide an exceptional level of service for each valued guest and to effectively manage your labor and day-to-day operations.

 

Which leads me to another column I read this spring on Hotel News Now titled “Hotel Demand Is Going To Come Back, but Will Employees?” The writer outlines several key questions owners should ask their operators, which I’d like to share with you here:

 

Organizational Structure and Cost

  • Are we forecasting increased costs to obtain new talent in tight labor markets and how do we offset these increases?
  • What operational changes are being used to improve efficiency — have we increased PAR (per available room) levels, employed “team cleaning” practices or made additional changes to program and/or amenity levels to reflect current market conditions?
  • How is the operator leveraging corporate size, scale and relationships to negotiate with contract labor companies?
  • In a competitive labor market, how are you ensuring short-term wage increases don’t impact long-term profitability?

 

Employee Retention

  • What steps are being taken to keep the employees we already have? (e.g., what changes to the program need to be implemented in a post-COVID-19 environment?)
  • Are there ways to provide additional flexibility to our team?
  • Are we planning for lower retention rates as properties ramp back up and how does that factor into the plan?

 

Communication

  • Has the timeline for approaching employees to ensure desired staffing levels changed as a result of the labor market and how have we adjusted our recruiting efforts?
  • With what frequency are laid-off employees being contacted and what is the messaging?
  • What steps are being taken to ensure employees return?

 

Bench Strength

  • Are there hourly employees at regional franchise properties in need of part-time work or additional shifts (even your neighboring comp set hotels)?
  • What is the most cost-effective way to ensure adequate support now as business returns?

 

Market Awareness

  • Are there properties that will be closing permanently? If so, how are we targeting those employees to recruit?
  • Are new hotel openings being monitored that might further deplete labor resources?
  • What negotiations/concessions are being made by the union? If union hotels are offering new concessions or flexibilities to their employees, are we offering the same to our team members?

 

This is some great food for thought for opportunistic hotel owners who want to: 1) assemble a winning staff, 2) streamline operations, 3) maximize their return on investment, and 4) provide a top-notch guest experience.