August 3, 2021

the temptation of the hotel industry after the Covid-19 crisis

“Never waste a serious crisis. This is the opportunity to do things that we thought were impossible. “ The advice, formulated during the 2008 crisis by Rahm Emanuel, then chief of staff of Barack Obama, has not escaped the large chains of the global hotel industry. The sector, whose steady growth has been cut short, has long been considering ways to reduce its personnel costs. The Covid-19 pandemic may have saved her ten years, both because it pushed its employees into unemployment or into the arms of other employers, and because it experienced other forms of ‘organization.

Hoteliers are moving slowly on this sensitive topic, but Hilton boss Chris Nassetta put it bluntly at a conference for financial analysts in February: “In each of our brands, we are currently working to increase margins and improve productivity, particularly in the areas of cleaning, catering and other services. When we emerge from the crisis, these areas will generate more margins and require fewer jobs than before Covid-19. “

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In the minds of Hilton executives, these savings could flow back to both shareholders and employees in the form of more attractive pay-on-hire. The increase in the minimum wage in the American hotel industry was already under debate before the pandemic and the current recruitment difficulties are forcing hotels to offer higher wages than they were before the crisis.

Versatile and better paid?

In another form, Sébastien Bazin, CEO of Accor, said, in May, on BFM Business, that it would be necessary “Better value work [des employés d’hôtels], that is to say maybe pay them more, maybe make them much more versatile ”.

Versatility was installed in all hotels during the crisis. Regardless of the level of establishment or location, bosses and employees have experienced tasks to which they were not previously assigned, with managers having kept costs to a minimum. They were able to gauge the advantages and disadvantages.

According to the HotStats barometer, the cost of labor per available room fell by 50% between 2019 and 2020 on both sides of the Atlantic. In Europe, this represents a daily gain of 26 euros per room. What to make salivate the revenue managers, responsible for optimizing the profitability of an establishment, who believe that many tasks should be automated.

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