Hotel Marketing Podcast: Episode 186 – Six Strategies To Finding Staff For Your Hotel

by Pete DiMaio

The first four months of 2021 have been a whirlwind.  It began as a struggle to find guests to fill hotels and has shifted to a major struggle to find the staff to satisfy the guests now that they have shown up.  The number one conversation in nearly all of our client meetings over the past two months has been how to find new employees and keep the existing ones a hotel has.

The COVID pandemic has created a very unusual circumstance, in the US in particular.  Employees who are currently receiving unemployment benefits that often exceed what a position at a hotel might pay. The national average unemployment state benefits are $345.53 per week, plus an additional $300 per week from the federal government.  This equates to $33,568/year income.  This equates to a $16.14 hourly rate.  For a hotel to fully staff, they must first match the value of unemployment benefits and then offer enough to make it worth the employee to lose their benefits.
As unemployment benefits expire, more people will make their way back into the workforce, but how do we staff up in the meantime?  In today’s podcast, we are going to cover six strategies that will help you identify, attract, hire, and keep great employees.
First and foremost, you must look at your employment strategy the same as you would look at your marketing strategy.  You’re selling the opportunity to work for your property by highlighting the benefits, overcoming the objections, creating affinity for your brand, and building a system that makes it easy to do business (or get employed). 

ONE: First and foremost: Keep your people loyal

Keeping your staff happy and loyal is the first and most important way to ensure your property is staffed to its fullest potential. This goes beyond just offering a competitive hourly rate or salary, though that is a must.  Properties must also create an environment where the staff feels welcome, is fulfilled, and sees themselves as part of a close-knit team.

  • Employee appreciation events
  • Property branded apparel (that’s not ugly)
  • Access to some amenities at free or reduced rates
  • Create comfortable space to relax while “off the clock”
  • Make sure your employees have motivation to stay or have skin in the game.
  • Create a clear path for growth in the organization.
  • Praise employees for good reviews, service.

TWO: Create a strong referral program

The best way to grow your staff is to rely on the staff you currently have.  If you have created a great culture and have loyal employees, it will be much more likely that their friends and family will also want to join the team.  However good feelings only go so far, you have to put programs in place to create an incentive.

  • Simple pay bonus for referring new employees
  • Referral contests and drawings for referring leads
  • Providing tools to make it easier for staff to refer their friends

THREE: Provide hiring incentives to get and retain new employees

Hiring incentives have always been a somewhat controversial means of getting employees in the door. If you offer a hiring bonus will you just get a bunch of people in the door that immediately leave?  The obvious solution to this is to offer incentive steps based on achieving specific milestones such as a signing bonus, followed by a 3 month bonus or end of season bonus.

FOUR: Ensure your jobs are listed everywhere

This recommendation is basic and hotels are already making good use of hiring services and listing sites.  However, it is important to understand the competition and make your job listing 10x compared to other listings.  Think of your listings as your Google My Business profile and optimize it accordingly.

  • Job sites such as indeed, ziprecruiter, SimplyHired and others
  • Social channels such as Facebook and Nextdoor
  • Also, consider paid social strategies to maximize your social reach

FIVE: Look to the community for assistance

The community around you is a great resource for finding employees.  Are there organizations that you can tap to help fill your employment needs?  A perfect example of how some destinations think creatively and involve the community is bussing in staff from neighboring areas. This not only serves a great need in the community to provide work and transportation but also solves a portion of staffing problems.

  • Chamber/DMOs
  • Local unemployment office
  • Local organizations that could provide staffing such as universities, clubs, etc

SIX: Adapt to having a smaller workforce
The one reality that is clear is we have a reduced workforce, at least for the time being. Hoteliers are going to have to adapt to delivering the experience guests demand with a smaller staff.  Therefore, how can we make the most of the staff we have?

  • Cross train your existing staff to the fullest
  • Automate systems where possible
  • Outsource services that will alleviate your internal staff, such as laundry
  • Ask your guests what services they actually need/want.

The lack of workers is a temporary problem, though one that may last quite a while.  The best strategy possible is to get creative and think of new ways to solve the problem.  A perfect example of getting creative, which goes back to pre-COVID days, is a client that would charter a flight to bring in workers to a destination and house them for the season.

In The Newsaroos:   

Biden Opening Up More H1B and H2B Visas

Google Offering New Travel Tools

  • When searching for hotels/flights/things to do Google will let you know about travel restrictions right in the SERP. Things like mandatory quarantine or proof of test results or vaccination record. Can choose to get an email if these change
  • Filter by type of trip (beaches/skiing/outdoors)
  • Road Trips – with a starting point and destination set, you can now see hotels/parks/campgrounds along the way. You can set specific stops. This can be transferred to your Google Maps app on your phone


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