PHOENIX — With big Valley events picking back up in the coming weeks like Barrett-Jackson, the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and Spring Training, are hotels ready for the demand?
Like everything else, the hospitality industry was hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in April of 2020 Arizona lost 136,000 employees working in leisure and hospitality. Things are now trending upward, but not to pre-pandemic levels.
Data shows there were 11,000 fewer jobs filled in October of 2021 compared to February of 2020.
Growing up on the Navajo Reservation, Vanessa Lister says she never imagined she’d make a career out of the hospitality industry. But it was made possible graduating from NAU’s School of Hotel and Restaurant Management.
“I just feel like it was who I am and now that I get to make it a career, my work here is fun,” Lister said.
Dr. Robert Cannon was her professor. After working 25 years as a team member for Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, he has seen first-hand the ever-evolving hotel industry.
“Like many businesses in our state, we’re struggling with a demand of employees in our industry,” Cannon said. “We’re trying to make an effort to make sure we’re paying people what they deserve, giving bonuses ahead of time. Making one feel part of the team.”
Cannon says allowing employees to suggest a preferred schedule instead of mandating one might also bring more employees in and help boost morale. He says it also starts with education.
“This is not necessarily a part-time job. You can actually have a career and I’m a living example of that of someone who started parking cars and washing dishes,” he said.