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Hotels and hospitality industry among hardest hit as some local businesses struggle to rehire workers

Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 11:02 PM CDT
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - Some industries are struggling to rehire some of the workers they were forced to let go at the beginning of the pandemic, and hotel and hospitality are proving to be among those finding it the most difficult.

A recent survey conducted by the Bryan-College Station Chamber of Commerce shows most local businesses are optimistic about the future. One of the questions on that survey asked how businesses would rate the quality of applicants in the area for their type of business. Among respondents in the hospitality industry, 56% said poor, while another 31% said average.

The survey was conducted at the end of March and fielded responses from 510 local businesses.

“It’s all areas. You’re looking at retail, restaurants, hospitality - everybody at once is looking to fill their jobs to try to get back into 100% shape,” BCS Chamber President and CEO Glen Brewer said.

Brewer says the fact that life isn’t completely “back to normal” yet is another aspect working against hotels in their efforts to rehire workers. Business travel is still nowhere near the level it was prior to the pandemic, which means, for the most part, hotels are relying more on weekend events to fill their rooms.

“It’s tough to be in the hospitality business right now because you’ve been shut down a long time,” Brewer said. “You may be full one weekend, and then back down to a smaller percentage during the week and maybe the next weekend. It’s hard to staff up for that when you have peaks and valleys.”

Sean Lee is the area director for human resources for the Hilton in College Station. He says they see a lot of good potential in candidates, but it’s the drive to work and motivation to grow with the company that they’re not seeing from applicants at this point in time.

“A lot of people are applying just to apply, and then they never come in for their interviews or they just no-call no-show and never show back up,” Lee said. “The jobs are here. We have a lot of jobs that are open. It’s getting people in the door to actually work and stay working here, and people aren’t doing that anymore like they used to.”

Lee attributes this problem, in large part, to the enhanced unemployment benefits offered by the federal government due to the pandemic.

“The drive for a person has really gone down ever since unemployment’s really rolled out,” Lee said. “People are able just to sit at home and make a better paycheck than actually going to work every single day. It’s creating a very weird culture for our society.”

Lee says this issue does affect their service as they get busier. Obviously, with fewer employees, it’s harder to accommodate a larger number of guests. He is hopeful, however, applicants will be more motivated once the enhanced unemployment benefits expire at the beginning of September.

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