Friendly server talking to customers in a restaurant

Hiring Trends in the Hospitality Industry: 2019 & Beyond

After looking at our own data as well as analyses from around the web, one thing is clear: corporate recruiters, franchisees, and small mom-and-pop operations have many of the same struggles when it comes to staffing in the hospitality industry.

Attracting talent, compensating employees, preparing for market growth (or safeguarding against decline), and retaining millennials as both customers and staff members are all top of mind. Whether your focus is on hotel recruitment or hiring for restaurants, remaining up to date on the latest hospitality industry trends will help you stay ahead of the competition.


Graphic showing statistics related to hiring in the hospitality industry


Recruitment in the Hospitality Industry

Hospitality professionals comprise just over 10% of the total US workforce and turnover hovers around 74%, which means staffing in the hospitality industry is a constant concern. With more openings than individuals to fill them, the current employment market favors job seekers, so employers will need to work even harder to find, engage, and retain talented employees. Here are a few ways you can do that:

1.Use a diverse advertising strategy: If you only post open positions on general job boards, you’re missing out on potential hires. Take advantage of the different tools at your disposal and post your jobs on social media and industry-specific sites in addition to general boards.

2.Create a career site and cultivate your employer brand: Career sites don’t just offer a convenient place to funnel applicants – they also provide an opportunity to tout company culture and position your company as a great place to work.

3.Use analytics to support your hiring decisions: Relying on KPIs to measure success is nothing new for hospitality professionals. However, one of the latest hiring trends in the hospitality industry is to use data to reduce time-to-fill rates and maximize employee retention.


Millennial checking into a hotel using his smartphone


The Impact of Millennials (as Customers and Staff Members)

The millennial generation accounts for more than 25% of the US population and will make up 50% of the workforce by 2020. The success of many hospitality-focused businesses will hinge on how they can cater to the millennial customer while simultaneously engaging and retaining their millennial employees. First, let’s examine some of the hospitality trends driven by the millennial consumer:

1.Technology: Millennials are famous for being attached to their smartphones and they expect the ability to stay connected 24/7, so make sure you have a strong wifi connection and consider adding app-enabled room controls.

2.Convenience: Similar to their thirst for technology, millennial customers expect to be able to complete almost any task with the push of a button. If you don’t allow mobile reservations or payment, you risk being left behind.

3.Experience: 78% of millennials prefer to spend their hard-earned money on experiences rather than products. This is great news for the hospitality industry, but it also means businesses must devote more time and effort to providing a one-of-a-kind experience for their guests.


A quick look at some recent advice on hiring and managing millennials offers some insight into what they value as employees:

1.Flexibility: Work-life balance is non-negotiable for many millennial professionals. This can cause problems for hotel recruitment and restaurant staff hiring because of the need for strict schedules and commitment to guest satisfaction. Finding an equilibrium between both competing needs will be critical.

2.Communication: Many millennials demand a high-touch relationship with their supervisors. They crave ongoing feedback and positive reinforcement to stay engaged.

3.Professional Development: Nearly half (45%) of millennials in a recent Gallup survey rated professional or career development as “very important.” If you want to minimize turnover among these workers, keep challenging them and help them learn and grow as professionals.


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The Continuing Wage Battle

Talk of a $15 minimum wage has been going on for years now, but the federal minimum wage is still $7.25 an hour. However, many states require employers to compensate their employees above federal levels, and there is a growing movement to go beyond even the $15 per hour that has been the center of the debate.

Seattle recently increased its minimum wage to $16 per hour without having a noticeable impact on the hospitality industry. A more extreme example would be the $24-an-hour minimum wage negotiated by the union at the Westin San Diego. This compensation increase doesn’t go into effect until 2022, so time will tell what sort of impact it has on the hotel and its workforce.

Aside from these specific examples, the overall direction for recruitment in the hospitality industry is toward higher wages. Each specific organization will have to make their own decisions regarding how much they’re willing to invest in their teams and what level of compensation is feasible from a profitability standpoint.


For recruiters and hiring managers focused on staffing in the hiring industry, 2019 offers challenges and opportunities. The labor market might be tight, but there is still great talent to be found if you look in the right place.

by: Freddie Rohner, iHire
April 01, 2019