Whereas October is considered excessive season for tourism, discovering workers for lodge and resort properties is at its lowest in Sedona.
Looking for and retaining workers has change into a difficulty — however many hoteliers say that this isn’t something new.
Nevertheless, they’re discovering that workers aren’t in any rush to get again into the workforce because the rise and fall of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some employers say potential workers are holding out for larger hourly wages, others say workers don’t wish to do the menial duties generally required as a part of the job and lots of have left the hospitality trade utterly. The seek for housekeepers, entrance desk managers and even government positions has been tougher, leaving managers to work a number of shifts to get the job finished.
Staffing Down 20%
General, hoteliers are saying that staffing is down 20% in Sedona, and they’re making an attempt to rent every single day.
Stan Kantowski, managing director of Enchantment Resort, one of many largest resort properties within the space, stated that this example isn’t new. Kantowski has been at Enchantment for 4 years and stated that it has all the time been a problem to rent certified folks.
“It always has been an issue, but when the short-term rentals came online, that elevated the problem because of the demand for the destination,” Kantowski stated. “That has pushed people from Sedona’s workforce to Cottonwood, Clarkdale and Cornville. It has always been a challenge here in the market. We are in the same boat [as everyone else]. We operate one of the largest resorts in the county, so we require a lot of people to help us serve our customers, and we have to be creative in how to attract and retain the team that we have.”
Many inns are down a number of workers, some as many as 10, making the day-to-day operations troublesome.
Cheryl Barron, basic supervisor of the Courtyard by Marriott, discovered herself lately within the kitchen making breakfast for company in addition to managing entrance desk duties.
She stated lodge company aren’t empathetic as she explains the state of affairs.
“The guests are rather upset, a little angry, and they want what they want and are not concerned about staffing,” she stated. “Pre-COVID, if we had a housekeeping situation, guests were more gracious and more accepting, and we had a better chance of overcoming objections. Now they want a free room complaining they did not get what they paid for.”
Barron stated that Marriott workers have positioned letters within the rooms alerting company that the lodge has restricted homemaintaining — however that has had little impact.
“Guests are complaining that room rates have been consistent but they have less service,” Barron stated. “We are doing things as fast as we can. It’s a tough situation to be in right now.”
Lodges are charging a better common day by day price, some double. As they earn more money per room, wages for workers have elevated modestly. Many hospitality jobs are at present beginning at $14 to $17 per hour, however retaining workers has change into tougher. Some short-term rental administration corporations have began paying per unit versus an hourly wage.
Shift by Workers
“There is no loyalty with employees — they are going where the money is and who can pay them the most for the work they are going to do,” Barron stated. “The employees really have the say. They are the ones dictating right now because we need people badly.”
Barron had 64 workers earlier than COVID-19; at present, that fluctuates between 40 to 50 workers — relying on who reveals up.
“We are accepting behaviors that I assure you we would never accept in the past,” she stated. “On any given day I have 44 employees. But, of that number, half of them call out more than two or three times over a three-week period. Their excuses range anywhere from not feeling good, ‘I’m stressed out, or I have anxiety issues.’”
Arabella Sedona, a 144-room lodge, is experiencing a lot of the identical points. Basic Supervisor Julia Kaiser, like Barron, reviews that she is doing additional jobs like housekeeping, alongside along with her administration group and that everybody is working at full capability. She is anxious about worker burnout.
“It’s not an employer presenting a job to a candidate,” Kaiser stated. “It’s more of a candidate telling the employer what fits their schedule and what they need. Over the last year it has gotten significantly worse. They [employees] will come and say, ‘I don’t want to do the beverage station if I am a front desk agent. I don’t want to refresh ice tea and water for our guests.’”
“I don’t have clear-cut answers,” she stated. “We are trying to fill the positions of our hourly staff so that our superstars don’t burn out — but you have people calling in sick and you don’t have enough people to cover the shift. This is what we do — it’s hospitality and it is very challenging to continue doing this for a very long time.”
Altering Enterprise Practices
“Where are we going to get these employees? I wish we knew,” stated Candace Carr Strauss, president and CEO of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau. “Nationally, we are short 2 million workers — the number of jobs that are out there versus the number of people working. Until we can print 3D human bodies we are going to have to do things differently or do without.”
“This isn’t unique to Sedona,” she stated. “I sit on the U.S. Travel Association Board and we had this discussion on the workforce in hospitality tourism and as an industry, we have lost jobs. How are we going to fill those positions when people who were laid off due to the economic downturn from the industry went and found other jobs that weren’t as hard and maybe paid the same or better or allowed more flexibility with their family and they didn’t have to work nights and weekends and they are not going to return to our industry?”
Carr Strauss, Kaiser and Barron stated that many employees are experiencing post-traumatic stress issues, rethinking their careers and questioning whether or not or not they even wish to keep within the hospitality trade.
As well as, employees are leaping from job to job to any employer that’s providing extra money and few are working at minimal wage.
On Jan. 1, the Arizona minimal wage is about to extend 65 cents to $12.85 an hour. Whereas inns and resorts are providing their housekeeping and entrance desk workers larger wages, the quantities are nonetheless not thought-about a dwelling wage, which is estimated at $14.82 in Yavapai County. Workers must work two or three jobs with a purpose to pay the exorbitant rents — if they will even discover a starting point with.
Kaiser stated that Arabella Sedona is at present producing recruitment movies and making an attempt to search for other ways of attracting workers. She stated that traditionally word-of-mouth labored greatest for hiring housekeepers, however now they’re making an attempt to be extra revolutionary on how they current themselves to potential workers.
With the inflow of house gross sales over the past a number of months and extra short-term leases, there are fewer locations for employees to seek out housing. Inexpensive housing is restricted. Hoteliers say that the issue is getting worse as they will’t rent workers who don’t dwell within the space as a result of there isn’t a place for them to dwell.
“Affordable housing is the No. 1 reason some of my managers have to travel from Prescott, which is a burden,” Kaiser stated. “They have to drive I-17, deal with car accidents, road construction and if it snows, they cannot get here. Then, we have managers that are applying for the positions from out of state and they cannot live here because they cannot afford housing. We have management team members who are rethinking their careers and are questioning whether they should stay in the hospitality industry or move to a different industry because it has been so stressful over the last two years.”
Kantowski stated he can provide accommodations to a few of his workforce, which different inns shouldn’t have.
“We are fortunate that we are able to accommodate some of our workforce,” he stated. “We have apartments in Clarkdale and we provide complimentary shuttles from very early in the morning to very late at night to those apartments, with stops in the Cottonwood area to pick up people who don’t want to drive all the way. It is important that we assist our team members to come to work and to safely get home. That’s a big element for us having more housing.”
As well as, Kantowski stated that he hires worldwide employees for positions which can be arduous to fill. The H-2B visa non-immigrant program permits employers to rent international employees to return temporarily to the USA for seasonal employment.
He additionally hires alternate college students on J-1 visas, which was restricted lately due to the journey ban, and anticipated to raise in November. He stated that almost all of his employees are coming to the USA from Africa, Jamaica and Guatemala.
There are 65 inns within the Sedona space together with timeshares, inns/resorts and conventional mattress and breakfasts, for a complete of 4,300 rooms. Including to that quantity are an extra 2,800 short-term leases rooms.
“The growth of a few new hotels is going to exacerbate the situation of finding workers with the addition of Oak Creek Resort with 92 rooms, Ambiente Sedona with 80 rooms and the Residence Inn by Marriott adding 100 rooms to Sedona. However, new hotels are mandated by the city to add affordable housing on their property,” stated Debra Shinn, of Shinn Hospitality Consulting. Shinn has been available in the market for 12 years and has labored at Sedona Rouge, now renamed The Wilde Resort & Spa.
“The hotels need to provide ‘X’ amount of affordable housing based on however many rooms they are adding to their inventory,” she stated. “Affordable housing doesn’t necessarily have to go to the hotel employees but needs to go to a person who is a Sedona employee,” she stated.
Shinn believes that the long run worker will should be cross-trained in a mess of jobs to alleviate this situation. Elevating salaries to retain workers is unquestionably wanted, she added.
“I think we should forget the sign-on bonuses that some of the hotels are offering to attract new employees,” Shinn stated. “What about the people that have been working on property doing two, three and four jobs working overtime? Let’s give them the bonuses first to retain them.”
Steve Segner, proprietor of El Portal Resort and president of the Sedona Lodging Council, agrees that companies must deal with workers in another way.
“The idea of telling your employees to go home early when we are not busy has changed,” he stated. “We have to change our whole philosophy in how we treat our employees. In the old days we would lay them off. They [employees] aren’t putting up with that anymore, and they want certain things and money is just a part of it.”
Enchantment is providing advantages past what others are providing to retain workers.
Along with well being and retirement advantages, Kantowski stated, “we provide complimentary, freshly cooked meals to all our team members. We offer incentives to our full-time employees including a bonus program. We have recognition programs that celebrate good performance, and we are celebrating our people in different ways.”