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Staffing Issues Continue in Travel and Hospitality

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According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020, an astonishing 1 million travel and tourism jobs were being lost every day around the world. The slowdown in the industry, in addition to many deciding to leave their travel and hospitality jobs of their own accord, caused a monumental service issue across all parts of the travel and hospitality industry. Understaffing for airlines, rental car agencies, and hotels are still commonplace, and there is no doubt that it is greatly impacting CX, as well as causing companies to prioritize and make difficult decisions on spending priorities.

Now, in 4Q 2021, the news does not appear to be improving. New research released from Medallia indicates that 38% of hospitality workers say they are considering or already have plans to leave their jobs in the next two months, which could make for a challenging holiday season. Not surprisingly, 24% of employees say their employee experience (EX) has gotten worse and that they feel less engaged.

Other data from the report include:

  • US struggles are higher than the global average: 68% of US hospitality workers say their organization is working with fewer staff now than they did prior to the pandemic.
  • Little payoff for employees: 61% of hospitality workers around the world say their roles are harder and less rewarding since the onset of the pandemic.
  • Hiring woes persist: More than half (52%) of hospitality employees around the world say that hiring talent has been an issue for their organization.
    • Top three reasons: “Not enough qualified applicants,” “lack of resources to offer competitive pay or benefits,” and “lack of flexibility/remote options.”

The lack of staffing and burnout felt by those in the industry are causing further challenges for travel and hospitality companies already facing challenging market conditions. Strong CX flourishes when customer expectations are not just met, but exceeded. CX practitioners want a guest walking away from a travel experience with a positive view of their journey and the brand with which they interacted. The operational issues that these staffing issues are causing can make that a difficult goal to meet. However, there is opportunity for companies to take a hard look at the area of employee experience. Ford Blakeley, founder, senior vice president, and general manager of Medallia, described the current scenario as follows:

All industries have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis, but the travel and hospitality sector has experienced a particularly significant impact on its operations. And while it’s concerning that a significant amount of workers are considering or already have plans to leave their jobs before the end of the year, brands have a massive opportunity to adopt technology and communication strategies that allow their employees to do more with less and create a more empowered and engaged workforce that’s enthusiastic about providing their guests with a best-in-class experience.

Strong EX results in strong CX across all industry segments, but perhaps with not such an obvious causal relationship as in the travel and hospitality industry.

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