The hospitality industry took a hard hit during the pandemic when businesses and shops were forced to shut down. Three years later, it is still trying to recover. Cities like Las Vegas that are centered around tourism and hospitality are facing staffing shortages. Some workers say the city is just growing too fast for hiring to keep up.
The historic Westgate Resort in Las Vegas is trying to fill 200 open positions and with nearly 3,000 rooms at the resort, having a full staff is important — but finding people to work has been a challenge.
“Just the tremendous growth of new businesses, there’s a lot of opportunities out there, so we had to become a lot more aggressive in our recruiting because that’s a big number to be down,” said Westgate Las Vegas Resort VP of Public Relations and Community Affairs Gordon Prouty.
Prouty said some people simply did not want to return to the industry after the pandemic.
“We have a tenured staff, so some of the people that were at the retirement age decided it was time to retire. There’s a lot more options out there. Some people have chosen they want to go someplace where they can work at home, work remotely,” said Prouty.
Westgate is trying to keep its staff by raising wages and creating a healthy work culture.
“We really pride ourselves here in building a family environment and a culture where people feel recognized and a part of things,” said Prouty.
Down the street from Westgate is Renaissance Catering, which has been in Las Vegas for 35 years. After COVID, the team catered far fewer events.
“Even after the pandemic, we’re nowhere near back to where we used to be. We’re getting there, but I mean the sells still aren’t pre-pandemic, not even close. It’s insane,” said Renaissance Catering co-owner and chef Reymundo Cortez.
Chef Reymundo says many parties these days are last minute, which makes it extra hard to pull off when they’re already short-staffed.
“If I need five people, right now I’ll probably end up asking for 10 people, maybe eight or nine people to come in. Cause I know three to four of them are not going to show up. Unfortunately, it’s just the way things are right now. And it is frustrating,” said Chef Reymundo.
UNLV College of Hospitality says job insecurity and the intensity of the industry discourages people from those jobs.
“Guests are even more rude than ever, and we also see that there are also more service robots being implemented in the hospitality workplace. They are worried that, hey, I can come back today, but will I be able to keep my job down the road?” said UNLV Hospitality College associate professor Cass Shum.
Shum also said that service robots, which use AI to interact with guests, alongside self-service kiosks are helping to fill the gaps.
However, there is no quick solution to these shortages, because as more sporting events and companies move to Vegas, everyone is fighting to hire the same group of talent.