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News for the Hospitality Executive

Hotel Job Market Perspective:
Surviving These Tough Times

by Frank Speranza
October 12, 2009

Unfortunately, as too many of you know, it has been a grueling year for job losses in our economy and especially in the hospitality industry. We here at Hospitality Talent Scouts have witnessed some of the hardships on a daily basis. Our thoughts and well wishes are with those of you that find yourself unemployed during this difficult time. However, be encouraged, as finding talent is still a difficult task for those employers that are hiring, and there are people hiring, in spite of what anyone tells you. Therefore, knowing how to reach them is extremely important. 

Since this recession began, the hospitality industry has lost over half a million jobs, which is more than the entire auto industry combined. Yet even with such losses, we have not come near to getting the attention that the automotive industry has. That is why we have to thank people like Jonathan Tisch and others who pushed for the Travel Promotion Act, legislation that creates the first-ever U.S. promotion program aimed at attracting international travelers. This act has the potential to pump billions of dollars in new spending into our country and to create tens of thousands of jobs. 

We here at Hospitality Talent Scouts continue to have record inquiries from individuals who are within that half a million statistic of lost jobs, as well as from people who are gainfully employed. As I said recently to a number of people at the Lodging Conference at the Biltmore in Phoenix, no one appears to be very happy these days! From those employed, managers are very unhappy because of the increased work loads being placed on them due to staffing reductions in their own organization. For those unemployed, the difficulty in finding a position, particularly if you are unwilling to relocate, can be as stressful as being employed with a 16-hour work day in a 6- or 7-day work week. 

As always, the question to us, since we have a window into so many different hotel companies and hospitality organizations, is what do you see happening out there right now and for the near future? We have been trying to provide periodic updates through a variety of venues. For those of you who may not have caught some of our releases, you may want to review some of the information published on our views by Hotel-Online in May and an interview we did with Hotel Interactive in July. Links for both articles are below. 

Hotel Interactive: http://www.hotelinteractive.com/article.aspx?articleid=14355

Hotel OnLine: http://www.hotel-online.com/News/PR2009_2nd/Jun09_JobFront.html 

We continue to see great pressure on sales and operating teams on both the corporate and property levels. As I have continued to report, General Managers and Directors of Sales are under immense scrutiny. The good news is that weíre hearing from many organizations we work with that leisure was up in August, and Group Pace is starting to look more positive. Some are even saying that weíre starting to see a slow recovery, with occupancy looking better, but the rate is still dragging. While many organizations are vigorously in the budget process, we find others delaying it this year to get a better picture of what the September, October, and November results tell them before they start trying to make forecasts for 2010. 

Some advice to those trying to survive this wild roller coaster ride: 

If you are currently employed, the name of the game has not changed in the over 30 years I have been in this business: Work Hard, Work Smart, Stay Focused, and make sure you are bringing value to your organization. 

If you are currently unemployed, understand this (as this is a big one): Jobs peaked in December of 2007 and have been declining ever since, and some economic researches say this recession has the possibility of lasting longer than any other. The good news is that we have already been in this recession longer than we had initially realized. But that means if youíre not working and youíre unwilling to relocate, your current location could really be making your job search much more difficult. I am extremely sensitive to individuals who may not want to relocate. I happen to be one of them, and I am very thankful that Iíve never had to be put in the position of having to make that decision. I am, however, saying that if you are one of those people and you are out of work, itís something you need to think hard about. 

In spite of all the negatives, this is also a time of great opportunity for many, including individuals who may have lost their jobs. As individuals come under scrutiny and perhaps lose their jobs, fairly or not, it is a chance for someone else to make a name for themselves when they replace such individuals. This is not the ideal way we like to see people achieve advancement, but it is clearly a fact of life that one must come to accept and recognize. Many of our searches this year have in fact been confidential searches, where we are asked to confidentially source candidates to replace individuals not the easiest searches to complete when we often canít reveal the name of the company or property and have to obtain blind written releases from our candidates. Nevertheless, it has provided opportunities for us and candidates.

Also, please understand this: You are always at a greater position of strength to find a job when you have a job! In this environment, we have seen seasoned, high level senior managers let their emotions get the best of them and walk away from a good position without having another position lined up. Again, youíre always at a greater position of strength to find a job when you have a job. Unfortunately, egos sometimes grow as big as the jobs that individuals hold, and individuals fail to realize that a pyramid is narrower at the top. In this economy, that pyramid is even narrower now. 

All that being said, we hope that we have provided you with some information and insights that are valuable to you or someone you might pass this on to. Nothing said here is any great discovery, yet I find in talking with both junior managers and senior executives that we all need to be reminded about the basics now and then. Thus, the theme of the Lodging Conference in Phoenix was ďBack to Basics.Ē 

I do have one final forecast that Iíd like to share. Itís actually a weather forecast. 

THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A STORM IN THE HISTORY OF TIME THAT HAS NOT ENDED. 

This current storm will pass, and better days are ahead for everyone! 

Keep the Faith! Stay the Course! 

And don't forget that your friends at Hospitality Talent Scouts are here. Stay in touch and call us if you are trying to strengthen your team while trying to navigate these troubled waters. We are here ready with a Talent Bank of some of the best candidate resumes in the industry. None, of course, that will be released from us without the written permission of our candidates. 
 

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Contact: 

Frank Speranza
 Hospitality Talent Scouts, Inc. 
(212) 564-3334
fms@hospitalitytalentscouts.com
http://www.hospitalitytalentscouts.com
 

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Also See: What's Happening on the Hotel Job Front? / Frank Speranza / June 2009
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