Southwest Florida hotels offering big incentives to fight staffing shortages

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A hotel concierge helps a guest. Credit: WINK News

Hotels are offering huge incentives for new hires as the hospitality industry tries to pull itself out of a staffing shortage and keep Southwest Florida tourism afloat.

Fort Myers currently needs more than 300 hotel workers and has more than 1,600 openings for hospitality workers. With 70% of Americans saying they plan to travel this summer, that puts pressure on hotels to provide good service. The hotel industry, as a result, is getting creative in keeping people on staff and encouraging others to join, offering sign-on bonuses and even scholarships.

“The biggest things are those increased wages, that flexibility, those expanded benefits,” said Jennifer Clark Fugolo, vice president of advancement for the American Hotel and Lodging Association. “Flexibility, in particular, was something that we hear from employees, that they wanted more of. And, so, employers are getting creative and integrating technology, for example, to do kind of on-demand staffing. So, rather than, you know, put a schedule out two weeks in advance, it’s in real-time. Others might be paying people same-day versus on a cycle.”

A hotel concierge helps a guest. Credit: WINK News

In some cases, hotel services might be less extensive than usual, but industry leaders say they will do their best to make sure visitors have an enjoyable stay anyway.

“Some of the folks who go to a hotel, and maybe they’re learning that housekeeping isn’t available on a daily basis, but you can still get it at your request, we’ve seen that it’s kind of a difference in service,” Fugolo said. “But, overall, the commitment to providing that quality guest experience is there.”

The hospitality industry plans to launch an ad campaign to recruit workers, and it will highlight incentives like increased wages and discounts on travel. In a recent industry survey,
97% of hoteliers say they have a staffing shortage and 50% describe it as severe.

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