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Hotels around the U.S. struggling to staff up before summer crush

Tourist towns in turmoil as open jobs go unfilled
Tourist towns in turmoil as open jobs go unfilled 02:03

Hotels around the U.S. are facing a labor crunch as they scramble to accommodate a surge of visitors as more Americans start traveling thanks to the COVID-19 vaccine. Indeed, workers are returning more slowly than guests, leading hotels to offer perks such as signing bonuses in an effort to boost hiring.

"It's been very busy — lots of guests are coming to enjoy this beautiful weather we've had to sit at the pool, hike, golf and just relax," said Laurel Ely, a front desk agent at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, a luxury resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.  

The hotel has been swamped with guests since February, when more Americans started to become vaccinated against COVID-19. Many of the hotel's former workers never returned, however. Some left the city or state, while others left the hospitality industry altogether after business plummeted in after the coronavirus took hold in the spring of 2020.

Today, the Fairmont resort faces an unprecedented labor shortage, with 200 job openings across a number of departments.

"I've never seen the need for staffing like this unmet as it has been," John Glynn, the resort's director of public relations, told CBS News' Wendy Gillette.

The need for worker is so great that the hotel is offering $500 to new hires as well as to current employees who refer successful applicants. 

Nearby hotels are facing similar challenges hiring workers. The upscale Phoenician Resort, also in Scottsdale, has 50 job openings. 

"We have cards that we take with us, we can hand out if we meet someone, 'Hey are you interested in joining the luxury collection and the Phoenician?'" Denise Seomin, director of public relations for the hotel, told CBS News.

LinkedIn career expert: Summer shows promising signs for hiring 04:43

Such staffing shortages are occurring across the country, with hotel managers handling tasks that run the gamut from clearing tables to overseeing finances. 

Ben McCarney, the general manager of the Marriott-owned Bohemian Hotel Savannah Riverfront in Savannah, Georgia, said he's been working around the clock, citing the additional duties he's been forced to take on. 

"I do love the industry, but we all get tired. I'm working — I had two days off last month — closing the rooftop bar, multiple nights," he told CBS News. 

Joseph Marinelli, president of Visit Savannah, which markets the area to tourists, acknowledged the various hats managers of these establishments are now wearing. 

"It might be cleaning rooms and scrubbing toilets and, you know, that's a challenge for people that are also responsible for the bottom line and managing their business," he said.

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