• The CEO of Accor, Europe's top hotel chain, said he's hiring workers without experience or résumés.
  • Sebastien Bazin said some Accor hotels were limiting restaurant hours because of staff shortages.
  • Hospitality workers have been quitting their jobs over wages, benefits, and working conditions.

Hotels are struggling to find staff in the peak summer season as hospitality workers leave for better wages, benefits, and conditions elsewhere.

It means some hotels have been forced to widen their candidate pools — with Accor, Europe's largest hotel chain, turning to workers without experience or even résumés.

"This weekend we're having people interviewed with no résumé, no prior job experience and they are hired within 24 hours," Sebastien Bazin, CEO of Accor, told Reuters.

The hotel staffing shortages come as demand for travel rebounds post-pandemic. Hotels are hiking up wages, offering hiring bonuses, and changing benefits to find new workers. 

Accor, which operates more than 5,000 hotels across its network of brands including Ibis, Mercure, Fairmont, and Swissôtel, has more than 230,000 staff globally — but Bazin said it needs a further 35,000 workers.

Some days, Accor hotels have been forced to stop serving lunch or even completely close their restaurants because they don't have enough staff, Bazin said. "There's no other solution," he told Reuters.

He continued: "The problem I have is, when I know between early July to end of August we'll be 100% occupied, can I service all the people?"

He added: "Half of it is we've been blind, we've been not paying attention to a lot of people and probably underpaying some people for too long as well. So it's a wake-up call."

In separate remarks at a hospitality industry conference in early June, Bazin said many of Accor's hotels weren't operating at full occupancy because of understaffing, per travel publication Skift.

"We have to leave two floors empty as we can't serve our people," Bazin said, per Skift.

The number of travelers passing through US Transportation Security Administration checkpoints each day is almost back to 2019 levels, and occupancy rates at Accor's hotels in the first three months of 2022 were only 20% down on the same period in 2019.

Over the last 18 months, hospitality workers have been quitting their jobs in droves, with many citing the pandemic as a wake-up call that made them realize they could get better wages, benefits, or working conditions – or simply be happier – elsewhere.

In a survey of more than 500 hoteliers by the American Hotel and Lodging Association in May, 97% said that they were experiencing a staffing shortage.

Christopher J. Nassetta, CEO of Hilton Worldwide Holdings, said in a company earnings call in May that there had been a "significant" recent increase in job applications, though he admitted that there were "still significant issues" in the labor market.

"We're not all the way anywhere near where we want to be, but the issues are not as extreme as they had been at other points in the pandemic, including recently," he said.

According to seasonally-adjusted data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, non-supervisory staff at hotels and motels in the US earned an average of $19.18 an hour in April, up from $16.39 in April 2021 and $14.95 in April 2020. Average weekly earnings for workers in the accommodation and food-services industries in the UK have grown by a quarter in the two years to April 2022, government data shows.

Kathleen Oberg, CFO of Marriott International, told investors in May that the company had increased its average US hourly wages by around 10% over the course of 2021, and said it was now finding it easier to fill positions.

"While industry staffing challenges persist, primarily in certain US markets, we've made great progress since last summer in successfully hiring for open positions," she said.

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