Help Wanted

You are ready to go out, but will there be anyone there to greet you when you do?

With the arrival of Memorial Day weekend, there are all of a sudden plenty of activities to choose from, whether it’s a local outing, road trip, or a flight to someplace warm and sunny to celebrate lifting restrictions. Consumers are cautiously heading back to regular activities, including dining out at restaurants, traveling, and seeking leisure activities as they realize summer is just around the corner.

What awaits these eager groups is a solid mix of welcoming gestures and apprehension from business owners and their staff–what staff they have, that is, thanks to difficulties in re-hiring and recruiting for these positions. Many businesses are getting creative to entice workers to come back, including pay increases, employee incentives, and a revamped business model.

Hotels, vacation rental services, and hospitality groups are focused on the guest experience and the necessary flexibility to welcome back travel and encourage employment in the leisure industry in the COVID-era. One example of this is the home-sharing platform Airbnb, which introduced significant changes to its operating model. To attract more new listings, they streamlined the process of becoming a host, using algorithms for optimal photo arranging and adding title and description suggestions.

For local restaurant owners, the “adapt or die” model keeps doors open and jobs filled. Cape Cod’s Spoon and Seed has turned into a slimmed-down operation concentrating on a new menu concept that focuses on fresh, quality, and local. Owner Matthew Tropeano decided to push a slimmed-down menu that features “holistic cuisine with 90 percent vegetables and 10 percent meat” to address supply chain issues and the rising cost of ingredients.  Additionally, Spoon and Seed is implementing a new staff management model, cross-training the kitchen, and serving staff to offset worker shortages. The restaurant hopes to keep the smaller number of staff members happy and keep guests coming back for fresh, handmade meals by allowing the team to switch up roles.

States across the U.S. are looking to capture last-minute bookings with travelers and cover staffing concerns using new strategies. The Skyline Lodge in North Carolina had to push back its opening date to July due to renovations, and is partnering with the Local Chamber of Commerce, and other market-level websites, to get noticed by travelers.

Jerry Stafford, regional director of revenue management for Davidson Hospitality Group’s heritage brand, Davidson Hotels, noted that many hotels are pivoting to a model that uses all available staff to work collectively to ensure guest satisfaction. This team method is one that many hotels are using to maintain a winning guest experience.

It’s a given that this year’s travel season will be a challenging one for businesses as they adapt to new approaches and innovations to attract crowds and, at the same time, attract and retain the necessary staff. Memorial Day weekend will likely set the stage for the future of traveling and set a standard of tourism, employee, and guest satisfaction. Whatever your plans for the weekend, we will be watching how companies remain pliable to new modes of operation and how consumers react to these changes.