The main European hotel chains are hire workers with no experience or even a resume, as executives admit that years of underpaid staff have come back to bite, leaving them unable to meet post-pandemic travel demand.
thousands of workers left the hospitality industry when international travel ceased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many have chosen don’t come backfinding better paying jobs elsewhere, leaving hoteliers facing desperate shortages.
Europe’s largest hotelier, Accor, is running trial initiatives to recruit people who have never worked in the industry, chief executive Sebastien Bazin said in an interview with Reuters at the Qatar Economic Forum this month. last.
Accor, which operates brands like Mercure, ibis and Fairmont in more than 110 countries, needs 35,000 workers worldwidehe said.
“We tried in Lyon and Bordeaux ten days ago and this weekend we are interviewing people with no CV, no prior work experience and they are hired within 24 hours,” Bazin said.
In the short term, Accor fulfills functions in France with young people and immigrants while limiting services. “These are students, people who come from North Africa,” Bazin said.
“And basically closing of restaurants for lunch or (by opening them) just five days a week. There is no other solution.”
New recruits receive six hours of training and learn on the job, he said. Staff shortages are particularly pressing in Spain and Portugal, where tourism accounted for 13% and 15% of economic output respectively before the pandemic.
The hoteliers offer higher salaryfree housing and benefits such as bonuses and health insurance.
“A lot of employees have decided to move to other sectors, so we are starting an industry from scratch and we have to fight for talent,” Gabriel Escarrer, CEO of the Majorcan hotelier Meliatold reporters in Madrid.
To attract staff, his company has recently provided accommodation, sometimes in hotel rooms, due to a rental housing shortage near its seaside resorts.
Small hoteliers face similar staffing challenges. The director of operations at Hotel Mundial, one of Lisbon’s most iconic hotels, said he was currently trying to recruit 59 workers. Without enough staff, he fears some hotels will reduce the number of guests and the range of amenities they can provide.
“If we can’t recruit, we will services should be cut“, he said. “This is unfortunate and tragic for an industry that has had no revenue for the past two years.
Through Spain and in Portugal, two of Europe’s top tourist destinations, the pattern is repeating itself in bars, restaurants and hotels – the bookings they’ve longed for but at a cost they’re struggling to afford.
Jose Carlos Sacó, 52, can only open his Madrid bar, Tabanco de Jerez, on weekends when students in need of extra cash don’t have classes and are available to work.
“During the week we can’t open because we have no hands, they’re studying,” he said, pointing to his student staff setting up tables on a Saturday.
In Madrid’s bustling La Latina district, Angosta tavern owner Mariveni Rodriguez has hired immigrants for the high season. “We give the possibility to migrants who come with the desire to work because they have no family or institutional support,” she said.
Spanish catering industry short of 200,000 workers and Portuguese hotels need at least 15,000 more people to meet growing demand, according to national hotel associations.
“Surely the solution will be to pay more,” said Jose Luis Yzuel of the food services industry association. Attempts are made to attract workers.
In Spain, bars and restaurants raised workers’ wages by almost 60% in the first quarter compared to a year earlier, according to official data. But the tourism industry remains the sector that pays employees the least, around 1,150 euros ($1,200) per month.
In neighboring Portugal, wages for hotel workers are expected to rise by 7% this year, according to a survey by the central bank and the National Institute of Statistics, but the average salary in the sector is 881 euros per month, higher than the minimum wage of 705 euros.
Bazin said that even if hotels are only 60 or 70 percent occupied, they can cope with staff shortages, but the the critical moment will come when they are complete.
“The problem I have is that if I know that between the beginning of July and the end of August we will be 100% occupied, can I serve everyone?” he said. In the past, the industry has neither paid enough nor focused on developing people, Bazin said.
“Half of it is we’ve been blind, we haven’t paid attention to a lot of people and we’ve probably underpaid some people for too long as well,” he said. “So that’s a red flag.”