Our Hospitality in the News series takes all the relevant information you need to know about the hospitality industry and puts it in one place – so you never miss out on important news ever again. This week’s Hospitality in the News topic: the one hospitality trend you need to know for 2024.

With another year coming to an end, it’s time to start thinking about what to expect in the hospitality industry in 2024. By getting ahead of expected trends, you’ll have more foresight into the new year, allowing you to better plan your initiatives, goals, and other success metrics. 

Typically when we put together our trends list for the upcoming year, there are several important trends to highlight. But for 2024, we believe that will be one main factor that will affect just about every area of your business. 

The One Hospitality Trend You Need to Know for 2024 

With the emergence of the pandemic, hotels and restaurants were faced with mandates that forced them to shut their doors. Once they were permitted to reopen, a new problem emerged: a nationwide shortage of hourly workers that had the largest impact on the hospitality industry. 

Anyone who has worked in hospitality the last couple of years has heard about and understands the impact of the labor shortage. But recent updates have emerged that will change how you look at 2024.  

The National Restaurant Association reports that the leisure and hospitality sector has exceeded its number of jobs for the first time since COVID-19 hit the U.S. in early 2020; with 12.37 jobs in September 2023 versus 12.34 million in February 2020. Though this change is miniscule, it paints a bigger picture. But what does that picture show?  

Before we dive into the implications of hospitality jobs returning to pre-pandemic numbers, there’s an important caveat that comes with this update; The accommodation sector – which includes lodging and hotels – still sits below February 2020 levels by 10.3%. 

This information begs the question, why have restaurants rebounded but hotels haven’t? And what does this mean for hiring and staffing in 2024? Let’s get into it.  

Restaurants: Filled and Open Jobs 

Even though the increase in restaurant jobs was under 0.3%, it stands to show that the needle is moving in the desired direction. September’s job growth was the 33rd consecutive month of growth in that sector. Reaching pre-pandemic levels is a huge accomplishment and has been a goal for the industry since March 2020.  

But, yet another caveat: there are still an average of 1.2 million job openings in the hospitality industry each month. It’s important to note that pre-pandemic, the number of job openings hovered around 875,000 per month (via the Bureau of Labor Statistics). 

When restaurants reopened during the pandemic, one of the key issues with labor was finding workers who were willing to either return to or outright join the restaurant industry. As a job that involves direct interaction with customers, many were hesitant to return. Not only that, but some restaurant employees were reporting that mistreatment from guests had gone up since the pandemic.  

Now that we understand the recent trends in restaurant jobs, we can conclude the following: 

  • Workers are more comfortable returning to restaurant jobs now that we’ve gotten a couple of years away from the thick of the pandemic. Not only that, but wages are higher, drawing more job seekers to the industry. 
  • Quit rates have decreased this year compared to 2021 and 2022 and are even lower than pre-pandemic rates – which means that restaurants have worked on making positive changes that create a more attractive workplace environment.  
  • A 25% increase in job openings is nothing to sneeze at, but its impact on the industry won’t be as drastic as it was in the previous couple of years.  
  • Though restaurant jobs have returned to February 2020 levels, it doesn’t mean there’s no staff shortage as exhibited by the number of job openings. Job openings may be 95% full in one market (a major city, for example) but 30% full in another market (a smaller city).  
Hotels: Filled and Open Jobs 

As of September 2023, hotel jobs are down just over 10% from February 2020, rebounding much slower than restaurants. There aren’t numbers attributed to open jobs specifically in hotels, but because hotel jobs are down overall by hundreds of thousands, we can conclude that the hotel industry has a hefty number of open jobs.  

Hotels faced the same challenges as restaurants during the pandemic with temporary (and for some, permanent) closures and an overall labor shortage. But why haven’t they been able to bounce back the same way? Here are the most likely causes: 

  • Chains and corporate properties want to keep costs low and are doing so by eliminating jobs when and where they can. A common example of this we’re seeing is by having guests request housekeeping when wanted rather than it automatically occurring every day.  
  • Hotel revenue was down in the first half of 2023, reducing the need to hire.  
  • Job seekers are less motivated to work at a hotel (rather than a restaurant) which could be the case for several reasons such as pay, workload, and/or management.  
What Does This Mean for 2024?

Now that we’ve examined the hiring and staffing landscapes for both the restaurant and hotel industries, it will be easier to build a plan for 2024. Here are the key takeaways for each industry:  

Key takeaways for the restaurant industry: 

  • If your restaurant is still struggling to hire, it might be time to look inward and evaluate if there are reasons you’re having hiring challenges, because data shows that candidates are seeking our restaurant jobs. It could be with your job advertisements, the speed in which you respond to candidates, or your workplace culture.  
  • Returning to pre-pandemic levels doesn’t mean that hiring needs and concerns shouldn’t be taken seriously. Due to the number of openings, it’s clear that there’s work to be done in the industry.  
  • Industry growth will likely continue to exceed 2020/2019 levels throughout the rest of the year and into 2024.  

Key takeaways for the hotel industry: 

  • Despite decreased sales in Q1/Q2 2023, managers are seeing revenue increases in Q3/Q4, aligning with experts’ predictions. Only time will tell, but it seems likely that hotels will return to pre-pandemic levels by early 2024.  
  • With revenue on the rise, hoteliers will resume opening new properties which were put to a halt in 2020 and 2021. 
  • Once an increase in sales triggers the need to bring on more employees, there will be a mad dash to hire. It will be important to have a hiring and staffing plan in place so you don’t lose candidates to the competition.  

We’re thrilled to hear about the growth of the restaurant industry and are hopeful that hotels will catch up to their hospitality counterpart in the new year. 

About LGC
With 20 years in staffing and recruiting, LGC understands the importance of having the right employees in place. After all, they’re crucial to the success of your business. That’s why we’re committed to building partnerships that last – so you can rely on us for your hiring needs whenever they may arise. When you work with LGC, you’ll have access to the people you need to build or augment your team. Learn why our tried-and-true staffing solutions have made us the premier hospitality staffing partner nationwide since 2003.  

If you have staffing needs in 2024 (or at any point), LGC can assist with helping you find the temporary and permanent staff you need to be successful. To learn more about our customizable staffing solutions.