Hotels offer applicants perks amid staffing shortages

More than 80% of hoteliers across the nation are reporting staffing shortages, and Hawaii is no exception with this year’s projection for state hotel jobs expected to be nearly 12% below pre-pandemic levels.

As many as 82% of hoteliers are experiencing staffing shortages and 26% are reporting such severe shortages that their ability to operate their hotels is affected, according to a new survey of hoteliers released by the American Hotel and Lodging Association this month. As many as 40% of hoteliers indicated that filling housekeeping jobs was their most critical need.


The staffing shortages were detailed in AHLA’s Front Desk Feedback survey of 474 hoteliers, which was conducted May 3-9. The numbers are up slightly from January when 79% of respondents said they were experiencing staffing shortages. But they have gotten better since earlier in the pandemic recovery when 97% of hoteliers surveyed in May 2022 said they were experiencing staffing shortages and 49% were experiencing severe shortages.

An Oxford economics analysis prepared for AHLA in February projected that this year there will be 39,104 direct hotel jobs in Hawaii and 126,146 hotel-supported jobs, down 11.7% from 2019’s 44,273 direct-hotel jobs and 142,821 hotel-supported jobs. That’s slightly higher than the nationwide drop, which is projected this year to fall 11.1% from 2019.

Hawaii’s projected hotel job decline is tied for 20th worst along with Arizona and Minnesota.

Keith Vieira, principal of KV and Associates, Hospitality Consulting, said some of the Hawaii job declines are tied to hard-to-fill vacancies, while others are due to lags in the pandemic recovery, especially from visitors from Japan, who tend to dine in more at hotels.

“Since the pandemic, not everybody is back to the same operating hours or even days,” Vieira said. “People also had to make adjustments during COVID, and coming out of COVID it was hard to go back to full staffing — that’s more reflective in the restaurants, where some are going dark one or two days a week.”

He added that during the pandemic hotels also lost more workers to retirement.

Hawaii hoteliers also say that the shortage reflects the lingering effects of the “Great Resignation,” where coming out of the pandemic workers across the nation and across career fields voluntarily resigned en masse — sometimes quitting work entirely, other times exploring new opportunities, or pursuing greater work-life balance through jobs that were less customer facing, required fewer hours, or offered remote options.

Jerry Gibson, president of the Hawaii Hotel Alliance, said that Hawaii hotels are still short-staffed, particularly in the housekeeping and food and beverage departments.

“We are working very hard in recruiting for those two hot spots,” Gibson said. “We are getting close to being able to open most of the way with hotel food and beverage outlets. But a lot of independent restaurants, for instance, would like to open another day and they can’t because they don’t have enough people.”

In Hawaii, more than 1,600 hotel jobs were open Tuesday with 459 of them on Oahu, according to a search on the employment website

An AHLA spokesperson said, “Filling these positions is critical to the economic health of Honolulu and Hawaii. Last year alone, hotel guests spent more than $23 billion in destinations across the state, and Hawaii hotels generated nearly $2.1 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue.”

Chip Rogers, AHLA president and CEO, said in a statement, “To continue supporting millions of good-paying jobs and generating billions in tax revenue in communities across the nation, hotels need to hire more people.”

Rogers added, “The need for workers throughout the lodging industry continues to drive historic career opportunities for hotel employees, who are enjoying record wages and better benefits and flexibility than ever before.”

In April, national average hotel wages were at an all-time high of more than $23 per hour. That’s up more than $5 since April 2019, according to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Still, staffing is down and hotels are urgently working to attract talent.

AHLA reports that hotel employers nationwide are on hiring sprees, and 75% are increasing wages, 64% are offering greater flexibility with hours, and 36% are expanding benefits. Still, AHLA said 87% of hoteliers surveyed said they are still unable to fill all open positions.

Wages and benefits at Hawaii hotels are often set by collective bargaining agreements. Gibson said some Hawaii hoteliers, however, are responding to the desire for more flexibility by increasing part-time work, which has become more in demand among workers seeking greater work-life balance.

He said coming out of the pandemic some workers also prefer remote work. While most jobs in the hotel industry are on-site, Gibson said some people in sales and revenue management positions are still able to work remotely on occasion.

Hawaii hotel employers advertising on on Tuesday were offering hiring incentives ranging from relocation assistance and bonuses to travel perks and discounts on stock purchases. Many said they were urgently hiring, and plenty were recruiting for multiple positions.

Pleasant Holidays was offering a $1,000 retention bonus and two promotional travel tickets valued at $650 annually for a job as a hotel concierge at one of their desks at a Kona hotel.

Marriott Vacations Worldwide was for some jobs offering potential sign-on bonuses ranging from $500 to $1,000.

The Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort said in its advertisement for a restaurant general manager at the Bistro Molokini that it would offer Hilton stock shares at a 15% discount, among other benefits, including the Go Hilton travel discount program. It also advertised “access to your pay when you need it through DailyPay.”

Hawaii hotels also are supplementing online recruitment with in-person and virtual job fairs.

Marriott Vacations Worldwide is hosting a virtual hiring event today from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to fill open roles at Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club, Marriott’s Kauai Beach Club and Marriott’s Kauai Lagoons.

Marc Walz, general manager of the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas, a Marriott Vacations Worldwide property on Kauai, said the recruitment is for jobs in activities and recreation, housekeeping, maintenance, and food and beverage departments.

Interested applicants can preregister for the virtual event at To apply for Marriott Vacations Worldwide jobs in general, visit

While there are job openings at some Marriott Vacations Worldwide properties, Walz said he is pleased that employee turnover over the past year has been less than 10%.

He said Marriott Vacations Worldwide has made a concerted effort to retain employees, and offers an extensive benefits package that includes travel perks, medical, dental and vision plans, paid time off, tuition reimbursement and more.

“At Marriott Vacations Worldwide, we do an associate engagement survey so we are able to understand where our associates are coming from,” he said. “We’ve scored really high, more than 90%, and so I believe it’s listening to our associates. (It’s) also having competitive positioning in the market in terms of wages and benefits. But also more importantly our ability to recognize talent and to promote from within.”

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