By the time he recently arrived in New York, Henry Harteveldt had already had a couple of morning meetings at the hotel restaurant. But when he checked in, he found out that it was closed for breakfast due to staffing issues.
“It’s much easier to go to the deli next door and have a cup of coffee, and we’ve made other arrangements for the breakfast party,” he said.
These are the types of service interruptions that travelers can continue to expect during their spring and summer trips.Hotel housekeeper Room maintenance frequency is low..The restaurant is Difficult to find staff.. Airlines are addressing their own shortages, causing delays and cancellations.
Traveling may seem a bit semi-normal as many pandemic travel bans are relaxed, but the protracted labor shortage means that there aren’t enough employees to meet the accumulated demand. MeansAs now Busy summer season Coming up, you may feel short on your next vacation.
“The bubble burst”
Jamie Larunis, Travel Industry Analyst UpgradedPoints.com“I’m in the most optimistic view I’ve ever had” regarding travel demand in the wake of a pandemic.
“Now we are at the time of the burst of the bubble, and perhaps airlines and hotels weren’t fully prepared for it,” he said. ..In addition, travelers are facing Higher price on almost every turn — Make your vacation expensive and rewarding.
Many people in the United States have remained on the sidelines of the job market in the wake of a pandemic. Labor shortage In many industries, including travel and hospitality.
Leisure and hospitality Led to an increase According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, March employment added 112,000 out of 431,000 jobs. However, employment in this sector has declined by 8.7% since February 2020.
Of the 1.6 million jobs that haven’t recovered yet, 1.5 million are engaged in leisure and hospitality, according to the American Travel Association.
“The shortage of available workers, coupled with a slow recovery in business and international travel spending, has regained pre-pandemic levels in other sectors of the economy, and in some cases even exceeded them, in leisure and hospitality. Limiting recovery. “Tori Emerson Burns, a spokeswoman for the US Travel Association, said. statement last week.
She called on Congress and the Biden administration to remove covid-19 travel restrictions, including testing requirements for inbound international travelers, among other steps.
Less customer service and longer wait times
One of the most notable shortages in travel is the lack of customer service staff, Harteveldt said. “The airline has let go of many of its trained booking staff and airport employees during covid. Even those who took unpaid leave simply said,” Another job that is less stressful and pays more. Found. Or both.'”
There is also a shortage of pilots, according to Harteveldt, because there are too few pilots and the minimum number of hours to take a commercial flight. This problem is less pronounced than a year ago when the airline recalled a layoff pilot and had them participate in the necessary training after not flying for a period of time.
Airlines are hiring new pilots, but hiring pilots is expensive and requires hours of experience. Future employees with other interests “may choose another industry where entry hurdles are low and, frankly, promotion opportunities are perceived as better,” Harteveldt said. increase.
Labor shortages, coupled with other factors, are the cause Flight cancellation And other air travel turmoil. When a traveler encounters, industry analyst and aviation consultant Robert W. Mann Jr. Flight changes that require airline assistanceIf you have to solve the problem yourself, the waiting time can be long and the cost can be high. “If things go wrong, it will take longer to get things done with those few employees,” he said.
Hotels likewise struggle to play front desks, housekeeping, and other roles in “almost every part of the hotel.” Check-in may take longer due to the limited number of rooms available at the hotel. Travelers may also encounter hotel restaurants that are closed or have reduced business hours, which may result in less frequent housekeeping.
Experts say many factors are hindering employment, including high-paying jobs outside the industry, reports of unruly passengers, diminished interest in labor-intensive jobs such as housekeeping, and concerns about the coronavirus. Stated.
Travel destinations across the country are addressing these issues as they prepare for the summer.
Robin Huber, executive director of Yellowstone Country Montana, Inc., a tourist area in south-central Montana, said the number of visitors in 2021 was “quite comparable” in 2019, and the area recovered fairly quickly from the pandemic. rice field. Travelers remained flooded with outdoor destinations such as national parks and Montana, as the city remained so severely restricted.
Many travelers are expected, at least this summer, but as Hoover walks down Boseman’s main street, she says many businesses have “seeking help” signs on their windows. I did.
“I think every one of your hospitality businesses feels it, at least a little bit,” she said.
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware-President and Chief Executive Officer of the Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce, Carol Everhart said at a local job fair last month that 28 participating companies from various sectors, including hospitality, were recruiting more than 1,000 jobs. Said to represent. Only 47 applicants have arrived.
“It almost summarizes it,” she said.
Bar Harbor, Maine has been working on labor issues for years, said Alf Anderson, executive director of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce. Given their seasonality and limited population, they have to find other solutions, such as relying on J-1 and H-2B visa holders, and more recently providing staff housing and bonuses. did not.
However, the more serious labor shortage as a result of the pandemic was surprised by the company in 2021, when the number of visitors was even higher than in 2019. “Anderson said.
He said this summer, with a large number of visitors expected, the company “opens its eyes wide to enter this season” and is coordinating plans to maintain regular service.
Some companies have become particularly creative when adding hands.Andy Newman, a spokesman for the Florida Keys Tourism Council, mentioned Hawks Cay Resort in Duck Key. Brought in a robot We perform cleaning work and support the wait staff of the restaurant. “The key is the same as the destination of other visitors …. Labor was difficult, but [we’ve] I managed to get over it, “he said.
Larounis said he believes “it’s in this kind of retention pattern until demand subsides.” This usually happens at the beginning of the school year. “I think push is going through the second and third quarters for everyone at the moment, whether it’s a hotel, an airline or a car rental company,” he said. Then they can be reassessed.
In the meantime, Harteveldt advised that those traveling for events such as weddings, graduations, cruises, etc. should take a little extra time for safety. “If possible, reserve some buffer before the event,” he said.
He also talks to travelers, especially air travelers who need to talk to representatives, even if they face longer wait times and may talk to employees who are not as well trained as they expect. Encouraged to exercise patience.
“Be polite and professional. Remember that the talking agent, whether you’re on the phone or at the airport, doesn’t cause any problems and is trying to help you,” he said. Told.