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News Briefs

  • 6/10/2024

    76% of Surveyed Hotels Report Staffing Shortages

    More than three-quarters of surveyed hotels are experiencing a staffing shortage, and hotels are increasing pay, benefits, and perks to recruit and retain employees, according to a May survey of hoteliers conducted by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA).

    Over the last six months, 86% of respondents have increased wages, 52% have offered greater flexibility with hours, and 33% have expanded benefits to cope with the nationwide workforce shortage. Nonetheless, 79% say they are still unable to fill open positions.

    Seventy-six percent of survey respondents said they are experiencing a staffing shortage, and 13% reported they are severely understaffed, meaning the shortage is affecting their hotel’s ability to operate. The most critical staffing need is housekeeping, with 50% ranking it as their top hiring need.

    These survey results indicate a worsening workforce situation for hoteliers over the last few months. In a January 2024 survey, fewer respondents (67%) said they were experiencing a staffing shortage, and fewer (72%) said they were unable to fill open positions.

    In the May survey, however, respondents said they are attempting to fill an average of seven job openings per property, down from almost 9 positions per property in January.

    These staffing challenges are resulting in historic career opportunities for hotel employees. Since the pandemic, average hotel wages have increased faster than average wages throughout the general economy, and hotel benefits and flexibility are better than ever.

    “Strong summer travel demand and a nationwide workforce shortage have combined to create more pay, perks, and upward mobility for current and prospective hotel employees,” said AHLA Interim President & CEO Kevin Carey. “But hotels need access to more workers to continue creating jobs. AHLA is lobbying Congress and the administration for a variety solutions to grow the workforce, while the AHLA Foundation’s Empowering Youth and Registered Apprenticeship programs continue to give workers the tools and support they need to enter, advance, and succeed in our industry.”

    As of April, there were 8.1 million job openings in the United States and only 6.5 million unemployed people to fill those jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are tens of thousands of hotel jobs currently open across the nation, according to Indeed.

    AHLA is calling on the Department of Homeland Security to expand the workforce by making available nearly 65,000 additional H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas as soon as possible, under authority Congress gave it as part of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act.

    Congress can help hoteliers address workforce shortages by taking the following actions:

    Expanding and streamlining the legal H-2B guestworker program. The H-2B program allows employers to hire workers from other countries on temporary work permits to fill nonagricultural jobs that last less than one year. The H-2B program is vital to helping independent hotels and resorts in remote vacation destinations fill seasonal roles, but the program is capped at 66,000 visas each year.

    Passing the Closing the Workforce Gap Act of 2024 (H.R. 7574). This bipartisan bill would replace the arbitrary annual cap of 66,000 H-2B guestworker visas with a new, needs-based system for allocating visas.

    Passing the H-2 Improvements to Relieve Employers (HIRE) Act. This bill would expand the H-2A/H-2B labor certification period to three years and permanently authorize the waiver of in-person interviews for returning workers. The HIRE Act would make it easier for qualified workers to secure jobs in fields that are struggling to recruit and retain enough employees to meet demand. By growing the pool of seasonal workers, the bill would give seasonal small business hotels critical staffing relief and facilitate the hotel industry’s continued recovery.

    Passing the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act (S.255/H.R.1325). This bill would allow people seeking asylum at ports of entry to be eligible for work authorizations starting 30 days after they apply for asylum, provided their applications are not frivolous; they are not detained; their identities have been verified; and their names are run through the federal government’s terrorist watch lists. This change would help hotels address critical staffing needs by allowing certain asylum seekers to work as soon as 30 days after applying for asylum. Current law prevents them from legally working for at least six months, forcing them to rely on assistance from local governments and communities.

    Methodology: AHLA’s Front Desk Feedback survey of 456 hoteliers was conducted May 16-24, 2024.

  • 6/10/2024

    Brix Rolls Out Revel Cloud POS to Additional Brands

    Friendly's exterior

    Revel Systems announced BRIX Holdings will implement Revel at all locations for the following brands: Red Mango  Yogurt & Smoothie Café, Smoothie Factory  Juice Bar + Kitchen, Pizza Jukebox , Souper Salad , and Orange Leaf  Frozen Yogurt. Revel has already been successfully deployed at over 120 Friendly's  Restaurants locations, which is also owned by BRIX Holdings. Revel worked with BRIX to develop a custom plan that optimized the hardware and software configuration for each additional brand's unique requirements.

    "We chose Revel because we wanted a solution that was going to be easy to implement, easy to train on, and could meet the needs of our diverse portfolio of brands," said Sherif Mityas, Chief Executive Officer, BRIX Holdings. "The ability to deploy a custom technology strategy has been game-changing for Friendly's as we've been able to deliver a better guest experience, delight our employees by giving them the cutting edge tech that makes their jobs easier, while also becoming more efficient. We look forward to realizing the same results once the next set of our brands are live on Revel."

    Revel provides a cloud point of sale (POS) platform that enables the flexibility large restaurant chains need to maximize profits, improve operations, and easily innovate. The Revel open API enables the BRIX Holdings team to easily integrate best-of-breed solutions to the Revel platform in order to deliver a custom solution that aligns with their unique requirements.

    Added Mityas, "Given Revel's flexibility and proven performance, it was a great opportunity for our broad set of franchisees to upgrade to Revel's modern cloud platform and the substantial benefits it provides."

    "BRIX Holdings has been a tremendous partner throughout the implementation process, which is a key reason the rollout has been so successful and delivered meaningful results for Friendly's," said Greg Dukat, Chief Executive Officer, Revel Systems. "We are thrilled BRIX is committed to rolling out Revel at hundreds of new locations and we look forward to continuing our work with their highly-skilled team."

  • 6/10/2024

    Cvent, Passkey and FreedomPay Announce Integration

    cvent teaser logo

    Cvent, an industry-leading meetings, events and hospitality technology provider, and FreedomPay, an innovative leader in Next Level Commerce™ technologies, shared details of their latest integration and payment card tokenization initiative at Cvent CONNECT, Cvent’s user and industry conference taking place now in San Antonio, TX and online.

    The integration between Cvent Passkey and FreedomPay enables direct tokenization of credit cards which allows for credit card numbers to be exchanged between Cvent Passkey and a hotel’s central reservation system (CRS) via secure credit card tokens. Tokenization helps protect hoteliers against the threat of payment fraud and data breaches and offers enhanced security features for managing and processing group reservations.

    “With many of the top hotels around the world leveraging our payment solutions, we understand the unique needs of the hospitality and travel industries,” said Nate Ware, SVP Sales & Digital Development at FreedomPay. “Today’s buyers and suppliers want greater security, personalization and efficiency, and we’re proud to partner with a leading, global organization like Cvent, which shares in our commitment to ensuring each of those areas is not only addressed but prioritized. Our combined focus on innovation and dedication to data security represents the future of hospitality and group business.”

    “The integration between Cvent Passkey and FreedomPay is another example of how we continue to expand our integrations and prioritize security for hoteliers, event organizers, and their group guests,” said Ben Mayrides, Chief Information Security Officer at Cvent. “By tokenizing credit cards, we are protecting sensitive data, reducing the risk of fraud and data breaches while providing an improved payment experience. It’s exciting to see leading hotel chains embrace technology to enhance the group booking process, and with additional properties and chains in the implementation pipeline, we’re rapidly expanding direct access to a more secure group reservation and payment environment.”

  • 6/10/2024

    JobGet Acquires Wirkn to Expand Retail Footprint

    logo, company name

    JobGet, the fastest-growing app-first hiring platform connecting over 70 million Everyday Workers with the nation's most recognized brands, today announced the acquisition of Wirkn, a leading platform in the frontline recruitment market. This strategic move to partner with shopping centers and malls allows JobGet to offer a tailored frontline solution to even more employers and job seekers. 

    The acquisition will enable JobGet to provide Wirkn's extensive network of over 17,000 mall, retail, and restaurant locations with a broader reach of applicants. Unlike traditional job boards, JobGet’s app-first approach provides deeper job-seeker insights and leverages AI to match skills to jobs that job seekers might need help finding. This results in a broader reach and higher responsiveness from applicants, leading to a lower cost-per-applicant and improved hiring outcomes. JobGet's understanding of the nuances of the everyday talent market further enhances these benefits.

    Tony Liu, CEO of JobGet, explained: "We are thrilled to bring Wirkn into the JobGet network. Our commitment to the Everyday Workforce, coupled with our focus on innovation and inclusivity, makes this a strong pairing. Wirkn’s manager-friendly ATS will empower more brands to create a dedicated hiring channel for their field workforce. Together, we will enable more employers and job seekers to connect and thrive."

    Mathieu Weber, Wirkn’s CEO, commented: "This is great news for our customer base. The synergies from this acquisition will greatly benefit our mall partners and broader employer ecosystem by providing more reach for their job postings. This is an exciting step forward in our mission of streamlining hourly recruitment."

  • 6/10/2024

    Mandarin Oriental Selects Winnow as Food Waste Partner

    On the United Nations’ World Environment Day, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group is delighted to announce a significant stride in environmental stewardship with the goal of having Winnow’s food waste technology installed across all its hotels by the end of 2025. This initiative is a testament to Mandarin Oriental’s commitment to setting a new standard for sustainability in the luxury hospitality sector.

    In a resounding endorsement of the effectiveness of Winnow’s AI technology, Mandarin Oriental has already observed a remarkable 36% reduction in food waste in four pilot hotels: Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong; Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London; Mandarin Oriental, Miami; and Mandarin Oriental Jumeirah, Dubai. [CO1] These impressive results underscore the Group's dedication to operational excellence and environmental responsibility.

    Implementing Winnow’s cutting-edge technology across all Mandarin Oriental hotels is core to the Group’s broader sustainability strategy. In the knowledge that food waste accounts for up to 10% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions[1] and that between 5-15% of the food purchased by kitchens is typically wasted, contributing to the Group’s goal to reduce waste intensity by 50% by 2030. This commitment is aligned with the United Nations SDG 12.3, which aims to halve global per capita food waste by 2030.

    Winnow’s data will enable hotel teams to make informed decisions that positively impact both the environment and their bottom line, with kitchens typically saving between 2-8% on food costs. Initiatives to manage food waste will expand upon existing ones, including colleague educational campaigns, overhauling buffet operations, donating excess edible food, and innovative composting programmes to improve soil condition and support efficient absorption of rainwater.

    With Mandarin Oriental restaurants holding 28 Michelin Stars around the world including Michelin’s Green-star recognition at Amber, the signature French fine-dining restaurant at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, the Group also looks forward to leveraging the creative platform of their chefs to raise awareness on the importance of tackling food waste. Looking ahead, chefs will be able to use insights from Winnow’s data to inform zero waste menus and recipes.

    Torsten van Dullemen, Group Director of Sustainability and Area Vice President Operations, states, “Our commitment to sustainability goes hand in hand with our promise to deliver exceptional guest experiences. The integration of Winnow’s technology across our global portfolio is a bold step towards reducing our ecological impact and reinforcing our position as an industry leader.”

    Marc Zornes, CEO & Co-founder of Winnow, comments, “Mandarin Oriental is at the forefront of sustainability in luxury hospitality. Our collaboration is already demonstrating the powerful impact of technology and data in reducing food waste. We’re honoured to support Mandarin Oriental in their ambitious goals, and together, we’re not only setting new industry standards but also making a tangible difference for our planet.”

    Successful  pilot programmes at Mandarin Oriental hotels in Miami, Dubai, London and Hong Kong resulted in annualized net savings of $207,000, 66 tonnes of food waste, and 289 tonnes in CO2e emissions.[2] The Group will be building on this success by rolling out Winnow’s technology to all 40 hotels by the end of 2025.

    How AI Works at Mandarin Oriental

    The Winnow technology implemented in Mandarin Oriental’s kitchens enables staff to seamlessly track exactly what wastage occurs throughout their production stream. With this data, users are empowered to optimize efficiency, change behaviors, and drive significant waste reductions.

    Designed to require minimal interaction, the Winnow system consists of a camera, smart-scale and tablet. The camera, featuring computer vision trained to identify over 600 food items, automatically identifies waste as it is thrown away. The weight and cost of the food discarded is then instantly calculated and displayed.

    All captured data is uploaded to the cloud, where food waste from each day is recorded and analyzed. With the preparation of daily, weekly, and monthly reports, Mandarin Oriental kitchens receive the necessary information to drive operational efficiencies, change behaviors, and innovate on techniques in preparation, cooking and plating.

    The result is a win-win: using AI in its kitchens will allow Mandarin Oriental to improve its signature quality of service alongside significant reductions in costs and environmental impact.

  • 6/10/2024

    Brick Hospitality Introduces Advanced Guest Service Robots Across Premier Hotels

    Brick Hospitality Relay Robot
    In response to the growing demand for streamlined and efficient guest services, Brick Hospitality has integrated guest service robots into the daily operations of all of its hotels. This San Diego-based hospitality management company is the only hotel management group with guest service robots at all their owned and operated locations. This includes their three premier properties: Hilton Garden Inn San Diego-Del Mar, Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego-Del Mar, and Fairfield by Marriott San Diego N/San Marcos. This cutting-edge initiative underscores Brick Hospitality's commitment to innovation and exceptional guest service.
    "Robots do not replace humans--they enhance both productivity and customer service and also provide a layer of security--when our night manager is on duty, we do not want to send him/her up into the corridors to deliver to guests. Relay does that 24/7, allowing our team to remain productive," said Robert Rauch, hotel owner and Chairman at Brick Hospitality.
    Revolutionizing Guest Services
    These robots are designed to assist with various tasks, ensuring a seamless and memorable stay for their guests. Brick Hospitality has partnered with Relay Robotics to map all of their hotels, enabling seamless robot navigation throughout the properties. Guests can simply call down to the front desk and order extra towels, and the robot will deliver them promptly.
    Key Features and Benefits
    • 24/7 Assistance: Brick Hospitality's guest service robots are available around the clock, providing timely assistance with room service deliveries.
    • Enhanced Safety Monitoring: Equipped with advanced camera systems and sensors, these robots enhance safety by providing real-time surveillance and monitoring, ensuring a secure environment for guests and staff.
    • Engaging and Entertaining Interactions: These robots can tell jokes and dance, adding a fun and engaging element to guests' stays, creating memorable experiences for guests of all ages.
    "Relay helps hotels optimize staff resources by freeing team members from delivery tasks, allowing them to focus on more pressing, guest-facing matters,” said Wade Pfeiffer, CEO of Relay Robotics.
    “Additionally, Relay streamlines external on-demand food and beverage orders and boosts revenue for the hotel's venues (restaurant, bistro, cafe, market, etc.) by enabling guests to order directly to their rooms via a custom QR code. On average, this is generating several thousand dollars in incremental revenue per month and can reach up to $10,000." 
    Brick Hospitality believes this initiative not only sets them apart in the competitive hospitality industry but also provides their guests with a unique and enhanced level of service. They plan to include service delivery robots at their newest hotel – a Cambria by Choice Hotels in Imperial California, which is set to open in July 2024.
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