Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.


U.S. Hotel Hiring Stays Steady Adding 14,000 Workers in February

1 year ago

The U.S. leisure and hospitality sector in February continued its recovery from the pandemic, according to a report from the U.S. Labor Department on Friday.

Government surveyors estimated that U.S. businesses created 311,000 jobs in February. About 14,000 of those jobs were in travel accommodation, mainly hotels. That was down slightly from a 15,000 reported gain for hotels last month.

On the one hand, many U.S.-based hotel groups reported in February hotel earnings calls that they feel broadly back at their full labor quotas, with labor gaps no longer a pressing issue.

On the other hand, 1.7 million leisure and hospitality jobs are open.

The remaining 91,000 added jobs were in restaurants and leisure and hospitality broadly. Employment in the broader leisure and hospitality was only below its pre-pandemic February 2020 level by 2.4 percent, suggesting a full recovery is in the offing.

“One way the federal government should address our workforce shortage is to increase the allotment of H-2B visas, which is at least 100,000 short of demand, to provide the industry with the temporary workers it so desperately needs,” said U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Geoff Freeman.

The national unemployment rate was estimated at 3.6 percent. On the plus side, low unemployment can fuel travel spending.

“There is still a much room for further services spending, greatly benefitting travel,” said Dan Roberts, vice president of research at Visit Virgina, a destination marketing organization. “Rotation of consumer spending from goods back into services, as has been the case for months now, is the story.”

Chart from the New York Times demonstrating monthly job gains in the U.S. Source: The New York Times.

On the downside, many commentators suspect the robust jobs report may embolden the U.S. central bank to boost interest rates. Such a move by the Federal Reserve risks overshooting economic trends, accelerating a contraction beyond what’s necessary to tamp down inflation and thus reducing economic growth in the second half of the year.

CLARIFICATION: A typo in the original version gave the wrong year for the pre-pandemic February 2020 level.


Delta Pilots Approve New Contract With Big Raises by Wide Margin

1 year ago

Pilots at Delta Air Lines overwhelmingly approved a new accord with up to 34 percent pay increases on Wednesday.

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represents the more than 15,000 pilots at Atlanta-based Delta, said 78 percent of cockpit crew members that voted were in favor of the four-year contract. Roughly 96 percent of eligible Delta pilots voted. The deal includes roughly $7 billion in economic value for pilots, according to the union.

John Laughter, Delta’s chief of operations, said the agreement “recognizes our pilots’ contributions.”

delta air lines pilot on the ramp labor pay source delta

Ratification of Delta’s new accord ups the pressure on other major U.S. airlines to reach similar agreements. American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines are all in negotiations over new contacts with their respective pilot unions.

The agreement also represents a steep increase in costs for Delta, which already faces higher expenses this year than it did before the pandemic. In January, executives estimated that the pilot accord would add as much as 3 percentage points to how much it costs the airline to fly a seat one mile, or what are known as costs per available seat mile, excluding fuel. Delta’s guidance indicates that the metric could be up 23-25 percent in the first quarter compared to 2019.

Updated with comment from Delta.


U.S. Hotels Added 15,000 Workers in January

1 year ago

The U.S. leisure and hospitality sector in January continued to make strides in recovering from the pandemic disruption, according to a robust U.S. labor market report on Friday.

U.S. employers added 517,000 workers to payrolls in January, the Labor Department said. About 15,000 of those jobs were in travel accommodation, while 99,000 were at restaurants and bars.

Despite hikes in inflation and interest rates and a spate of tech-sector layoffs, job growth in the travel lodging sector remained strong. The month’s performance of 15,000 jobs was better than the 10,000 hotel jobs added in December, as Skift reported.

Yet the travel accommodation sector still has a hill to climb to regain its pre-pandemic employment levels. In January 2023, about 1,618,000 workers were employed in travel accommodations (hotels, motels, casino resorts, and bed and breakfasts). The comparable figure for travel accommodation in January 2019 was 1,945,500, or about 17 percent higher.

“Today’s jobs report—in which 25 percent of all new jobs were added in the leisure and hospitality sector—is further evidence that travel is essential to the U.S. economy,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman.

The leisure and hospitality sector has nearly 2 million open jobs, the association estimated. Tighter rules on immigration and temporary work visas in recent years have helped to constrain the labor supply.


U.S. Hotels Haven’t Yet Recovered 2019 Occupancy, Staffing, or Real Revenue

1 year ago

The U.S. hotel sector will this year finally surpass 2019 levels on a few performance metrics, according to research commissioned by the country’s largest hotel lobby.

U.S. hotels will see gains in occupancy, inflation-adjusted revenue figures, and staffing levels in 2023, according to a report published on Monday by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and based on forecasts by the consultancy Oxford Economics with data from CoStar’s STR.

Here are some key quotes:

  • 2023 nominal room revenue is projected to be $197.48 billion, versus $170.35 billion in 2019. But these numbers are not adjusted for inflation, and real revenue recovery will likely take several more years.
  • Average hotel occupancy is expected to reach 63.8 percent in 2023 — just shy of 2019’s 65.9 percent.
  • 2023 room-night demand is forecast to be 1.3 billion occupied room nights versus 1.29 billion in 2019.
  • U.S. hotels are projected to employ 2.09 million people in 2023, down from 2.35 million in 2019.

Food and Drink

Lingering Anger Over Pandemic Furloughs Fuels Hotel Jobs Shortage, Study Finds

1 year ago

Hotels and restaurants continue to lag in filling positions in the post-pandemic recovery, and new research suggests that it’s anger — rather than fear, laziness, pay disputes, or another factor — that’s a critical component creating the worker shortfall.

Many skilled hospitality workers who were furloughed or laid off during the pandemic remain angry about how the sector had treated them, according to just-published research by academics at the University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College of Global Hospitality Leadership.

During the worst of the pandemic, many lodging and restaurant owners had to slash their workforces. Today the hospitality industry continues to lag in filling jobs relative to other U.S. sectors. Employment in hospitality hasn’t returned to 2019 levels according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, even though data shows that workers are receiving wages that are higher on average than 2019 levels.

Four researchers reviewed more than 325 online surveys and more than 100 responses to a scenario-based study of current, former, and aspiring hospitality industry professionals. They found that trust had been broken with many workers.

“Contingency plans such as offering employees continuing benefits, alternative work arrangements, and/or training programs, may go along way towards attenuating negative emotions towards the organization and hospitality industry,” the researchers wrote in the study.

They concluded that it’s critical for organizations to find ways to communicate that they value their employees and are prepared to protect employee interests in the face of future hardships.

“It’s important that organizations understand this anger among workers and build better communication with them,” said teaching fellow Iuliana Popa. “If there’s another crisis in the industry, they’ll want to know there’s a plan in place and that they’ll be protected, financially, emotionally and physically.”

Find the study “Losing talent due to COVID-19: The roles of anger and fear on industry turnover intentions” in the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Online Travel Says It Ran Into Snag Hiring People Who Live in Iran

2 years ago

Amsterdam-based said it had to rescind several job offers made to Iranians living in Iran because of complexities in the international hiring and relocation process of would-be employees living in that country. headquarters headquarters as seen in 2019. Source:

A Booking Holdings spokesperson responded to a Skift inquiry on the subject after Maede Rajabi posted on LinkedIn that “ rescinded my signed contract one day before my flight to Amsterdam and 5 days before my start date. It happened on September 9, 2022. Same scenario happened to other people from my country, Iran.”

Rajabi introduced the post as “a short story about racism in”

The spokesperson said the online booking company “employs many Iranian nationals.”

But hiring Iranians currently living in Iran apparently ran afoul of certain regulations or possibly sanctions against Iran, although the company didn’t cite specifics.

The spokesperson said “mobility vendors [were] unable to effect the necessary part of the hiring and relocation process.” stated that the issue had nothing to do with discrimination, and it is looking into ways to assist Iranians who were subject to the rescinded job offers.


Los Angeles Becomes One of the First U.S. Cities to Mandate Daily Hotel Room Cleaning

2 years ago

Los Angeles City Council has adopted a bunch a hotel workers protection measures, undoing some of the changes that happened during the pandemic such as foregoing daily hotel room cleaning. These measures come after intense lobbying and ad campaigns from the largest U.S. hotel union Unite Here.

Most hotels in the city will be required to limit the daily workload of housekeepers, offer overtime pay under certain circumstances, provide “panic buttons” to protect their workers from sexual harassment and do away with policies that automatically forgo daily cleaning, according to LA Times.

No surprise that the hotel housekeepers measures were opposed by business and hospitality trade groups, their argument being this would lead to higher labor costs, higher room rates and a drop in tourists.


Hotel Workers Want Guests to Demand Daily Room Cleaning in New Ad Campaign

2 years ago

The daily hotel room cleaning is now an innocent relic of our pre-covid days, that much is certain. Among the many ramifications beyond the lower expenses for hotels is that the cleaning staff is now getting paid less, for less work. And when they do clean the rooms after a guest’s stay, because they haven’t been cleaned daily during their stay, the rooms are dirtier and harder to clean, according to the largest U.S. hotel union Unite Here.

“Hotel housekeepers are sharing stories about filthy rooms, painful workloads, and lost income as they ask guests to choose daily housekeeping in a new digital ad campaign…the ads…will be served to frequent travelers and bookers of business meetings,” says the announcement from Unite. The union estimates that ending daily housekeeping industrywide would eliminate up to 39 percent of all U.S. hotel housekeeping jobs and cost housekeepers – overwhelmingly women of color – $4.8 billion in annual lost wages.

The WSJ has more details: Daily cleanings come down to guest preference, hotel operators say…Hotel operators say that in some cases, they lack workers to service rooms daily. There were 17% fewer payroll workers in the accommodation sector in April than there were in April 2019…Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the hotel association, says hoteliers in the group are hiring housekeepers quickly, in some cases on the day they apply for the job.


EasyJet Working Towards Getting Enough Staff This Summer

2 years ago

Low-cost carrier easyJet admitted it missed out on a strong Easter break after failing to have enough operations staff.

CEO Johan Lundgren said easyJet was “absolutely focused” on strengthening its operational resilience after it canceled flights due to crew absences, as it posted a first-half loss of $674 million.

Demand is set to be strong this summer, and the airline reported bookings made in the last 10 weeks were above pre-pandemic levels. It also expects to fly 90 percent of its 2019 capacity in the third quarter. Sold ticket yields for the fourth quarter are 15 percent above 2019 levels.