Where have all the workers gone?


In many sectors, the pandemic has caused a shortage of materials and qualified workers across the country, and the hospitality industry is no exception.

As a result, many AAHOA Members across the United States, and hoteliers in general, continue to deal with workforce shortages. As the economy continues to recover and we turn a page on a new year, hoteliers are eager to welcome guests back to their businesses, create new jobs, and reinvest in their communities.

The data is clear; employers are desperate to fill their vacancies. Unfortunately, it has become increasingly difficult to recruit and retain employees in the hospitality industry.

It’s a shame, as the hospitality industry provides opportunities not only for jobs but lifelong careers. At a recent AAHOA event, many CEOs and other hospitality leaders talked about how they got their start in the industry. They all started in entry-level jobs and worked their way to the top.

AAHOA recently conducted an online survey of AAHOA Members to assess the current labor market and employment situation in the hospitality industry. The results showed that more than 95% of respondents reported job openings at their properties.

When asked how many positions they are hiring for, 69% of respondents reported one to eight open positions, and 10% of respondents are hiring 16 to 30 positions. To attract new hires, 96% of respondents have raised wages, with 66% of respondents increasing pay by as much as 11% to 33%.

Hiring, training, and retaining employees are the biggest challenges to hoteliers rebuilding their businesses and their workforce. When asked to identify the position(s) most difficult to hire and retain, 74% of respondents selected housekeeping. The highest percentage of respondents – 76% – have struggled to return a significant proportion of their workforce (10%-50%).

While this is a big challenge, the industry is now facing its biggest challenge to date, transforming the way things have traditionally been done. Although this is true, there is one thing that hasn’t changed and never will: People who serve in the hospitality industry have a passion and an appetite to serve others.

It’s time to look to the next generation and invest in them as we figure out what changes need to occur to keep our industry thriving and, most importantly, moving forward. Our job as industry leaders is to ensure the generation coming after us has the same motivation and drive as the CEOs and executives who once started out like them.

As we continue down the road to recovery, AAHOA is firmly committed to working alongside lawmakers to address this developing challenge through community engagement and sound public policies.

If these numbers tell us anything, they’re a reminder that we could all be a bit more patient and a little more compassionate for the people who are showing up.


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