NEW YORK--Nov. 18, 1997-- Even as total employment in the booming U.S. hotel industry is on the rise, American hotels are requiring fewer workers per property to operate successfully, according to the Lodging Research Network (www.lodgingresearch.com), the comprehensive Internet-based resource for lodging industry data and information from Coopers Lybrand L.L.P.
In 1996, U.S. hotels employed an average of 73.5 workers per 100 occupied
rooms, down from 79.6 workers in
1990, the Lodging Research Network says. At the same time, total U.S. hotel employment grew to 1.7 million
people in 1996, up from approximately 1.6 million in 1990, www.lodgingresearch.com reports.
"Two factors have led to hotels' smaller workforces," says Bjorn Hanson,
Ph.D., chairman of the Coopers
Lybrand lodging and gaming group, creators of the Lodging Research Network .
"First are the productivity improvements made necessary by the brutal
hotel economics of the early part of this
decade," Hanson explained. "In 1990, the U.S. hotel industry experienced financial losses totaling $5.7 billion.
That prompted hotel companies to move aggressively to cut costs and boosts efficiency."
Hotel operators developed new ways to allocate fewer human resources
to necessary tasks, Hanson says. These
include creating in-hotel "rapid response" or "one call" service centers. These centers use tracking software,
pagers and small two-way radios to dispatch to sites throughout a hotel workers who are empowered to perform a
range of functions, including baggage handling, food tray collection and laundry drop-off. Rapid response
centers use computers to track and time all such activities with the goal of boosting worker output -- and cutting
guests' waiting time.
"Computers reduced accounting staff and front office staff," explains
Hanson. "Voice mail reduced the need for
"Further, new technologies such as lobby registration kiosks and in-room
checkout via video monitor cuts staff
levels -- and offer guests options beyond traditional hotel procedures," Hanson adds.
The Rise of Limited-Service and Extended-Stay Hotels
"Also driving leaner hotel staffs is the rising number of 'limited service'
and 'extended-stay' hotels since the early
1990s," Hanson explains.
Limited-service hotels are those that operate with no or limited food
and beverage operations. In the six years
between 1990 and 1996, the ratio of food and beverage revenue to total rooms revenue in U.S. hotels dropped
from 34.9 percent to 24.9 percent, according to www.lodgingresearch.com . This is a key statistic, as food and
beverage operations are much more labor-intensive -- and much less profitable -- than traditional rooms
"In the U.S. hotel industry's current building boom, in which 127,500
new hotel rooms will start construction this
year, the largest share of new supply is in the limited-service segment," Hanson explained.
The rise of extended-stay hotels is also a major factor in hotels' leaner
staffs. While extended-stay properties offer
facilities, such as kitchens, that are appropriate for guest stays of five or more nights, such properties employ
fewer workers than traditional hotels. Extended-stay hotels, for example, often do not have 24-hour front-desk
service. Extended stay hotels account for 40 percent of U.S. hotel and motel rooms planned for construction, the
Lodging Research Network reports.
Coopers Lybrand's Lodging Research Network makes available via the Internet Coopers Lybrand's renowned econometric forecasts for the lodging industry, breaking lodging industry news, an exclusive database of lodging industry real estate acquisitions, financial data of publicly traded lodging companies (including SEC filings), new hotel construction data from Smith Travel Research as well as an extensive research library that includes U.S. econometric and demographic statistics. For more information about the Lodging Research Network, call 1-888-576-6656.
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