Employment across the hotel industry is at historic lows, but job growth of IT positions continues to be net positive, putting hoteliers in a potential bind.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—As the hotel industry continues to try toclimb back from historically deep demand drops, staffing levels have obviously fallen in tandem. But while many areas of a hotel might be able to ramp up staffing as guests return, consistently lower levels of unemployment among tech-related jobs could present a challenge as hotels look for IT workers.
According to the latest analysis from the Computing Technology Industry Association—based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics—job growth at tech companies was net positive in August. And even though 323,000 net IT jobs across industries were lost in the month, the unemployment rate for IT workers remained at a robust 4.6%, compared to 8.4% for all workers in the U.S.
Year to date, IT positions have actually grown, adding 271,000 positions through August, with five out of eight months seeing job growth, even in periods of historic job losses.
Even worse than the national averages, a recent study from the American Hotel & Lodging Association stated that four in 10 hotel employees are still out of work, with 65% of properties still below 50% occupancy.
With hotel companies minimally staffed both at the property and corporate levels, hoteliers could be challenged to complete the tasks needed.
Michael Belfoure, VP of information technology at Davidson Hotels & Resorts, said this issue has been addressed at his company by prioritizing “corporate staff levels during the pandemic.”
“This has allowed our IT team to continue servicing our properties, even those that temporarily suspended operations,” he said via email. “There are usually ongoing technology projects at about 70% of our portfolio. Some projects were delayed, but the majority of them stayed on schedule, which kept our staff very busy.”
Mike Trzcinski, chief information security officer and SVP of IT operations for Remington Hotels, said his company and department have been “minimally staffed” during this downturn but they’ve sought to prioritize the areas that matter.
“The priority is on business operations and maintaining a staff to support the business as it operates today,” he said in an email interview.
He said Remington has had to reorganize responsibilities among remaining staff to live up to their mission of “uninterrupted service.”
“I have an amazing team of dedicated, hardworking IT professionals,” Trzcinski said. “Everyone is working help desk requests in addition to their daily responsibilities. Everyone has stepped up to support the business and associates.”
Compounding the potential issue for hotels is an increased need to pivot to new technologies that allow for a greater degree of contactless travel. Belfoure said those deployments have been a priority for Davidson.
“Having more than 50 properties in our portfolio meant providing 50-plus customized contactless solutions,” he said. “Our team was able to use this time to learn more about the many different technology offerings in the market today. Several properties implemented or expanded contactless pay in the past four months.”
Both say they plan to hire IT staff in 2021.