No expertise, no resume wanted, you are employed! Lodge scrambles for employees

DOHA / LISBON / MADRID, July 4 (Reuters) – Top hotel chains in Europe are hiring workers with no experience or even resumes as executives admit years employees are underpaid, making it impossible for them to meet the demand for travel after the pandemic.

Thousands of workers have left the hotel industry as international tourism shuts down during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have decided not to go back, finding better-paying jobs elsewhere, leaving hoteliers facing desperate shortages.

Europe’s largest hotel Accor (ACCP.PA) Chief Executive Officer Sebastien Bazin said in an interview with Reuters at the Qatar Economic Forum last month that it is working on pilot initiatives to recruit people who have never worked in the industry.

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Accor, which operates brands like Mercure, ibis and Fairmont in more than 110 countries, needs 35,000 workers globally, he said.

“We tried in Lyon and Bordeaux ten days ago and this weekend we had people interviewing without a resume, with no work experience and they were hired within 24 hours,” says Bazin. .

In the short term, Accor is filling the role of young people and migrants in France while also limiting services.

“It was students, people from North Africa,” said Bazin. “And basically just closing restaurants that serve lunch or (open) five days a week. There’s no other solution.”

Recruits receive six hours of training and learning on the job, he said.

Staff shortages are particularly pressing in Spain and Portugal, where tourism accounted for 13% and 15% of economic output before the pandemic, respectively.

The hoteliers there pay higher salaries, free accommodation and perks like bonuses and health insurance.

“Many employees have decided to move into other areas, so we are starting an industry from scratch and we are struggling to find talent,” said Gabriel Escarrer, CEO of the hotel. spanish melia, (MEL.MC) told reporters in Madrid.

To attract employees, his company recently offered accommodation, sometimes hotel rooms, due to a lack of rental homes near resorts.

Smaller hoteliers also face similar staffing challenges.

The chief operations officer of Hotel Mundial, one of Lisbon’s most iconic hotels, says it is currently trying to recruit 59 workers. Without enough staff, he fears some hotels will cut back on occupancy and the range of amenities they can offer.

“If we can’t hire, we’ll have to cut back on services,” he said. “This is unfortunate and dramatic for an industry that has had no revenue for the past two years.”

‘WE ARE BLIND’

Across Spain and Portugal, two of Europe’s top travel destinations, the prospect is repeated in bars, restaurants and hotels – the reservations they’ve always dreamed of but with costs they are struggling to meet.

Jose Carlos Sacó, 52, can only open his Madrid bar, Tabanco de Jerez, on weekends when students in need of extra money have no classes and go to work.

“We can’t open the door during the week because we don’t have hands, they’re studying,” he said, gesturing to his force of students clearing tables on Saturday.

Angosta Tavern owner, Mariveni Rodriguez, hires migrants during peak season.

“We give opportunities to migrants who come with a desire to work because they don’t have a supportive family or agency,” she said.

Spain’s catering industry is short of 200,000 workers, and hotels in Portugal need at least 15,000 more people to meet growing demand, according to national hotel associations.

“The solution would certainly be to pay more,” said Jose Luis Yzuel, from the food service industry association.

Efforts are being made to attract workers back. In Spain, bars and restaurants increased workers’ wages by nearly 60% in the first quarter from a year earlier, according to official figures. But the tourism industry is still the one that pays the least, around 1,150 euros ($1,200) a month.

In neighboring Portugal, wages for hospitality workers are expected to grow 7% this year, according to a survey by the central bank and the National Institute of Statistics, but the average salary in the field is 881 euros per month, higher than the minimum wage of 705 euros.

Bazin says that while hotels are only 60% or 70%, they can cope with staff shortages, but tough times will come when they are fully booked.

“The problem I have is, when I know from the beginning of July to the end of August, we will be at 100%, can I serve everyone?” he say.

In the past, the industry hasn’t paid enough or been focused on developing staff, Bazin said.

“Half of it was that we were blind, we didn’t pay attention to many people and were able to underpay some people for too long,” he said. “So it’s a wake-up call.”

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Reporting by Andrew Mills, Corina Pons and Caterina Demony Editing by Matt Scuffham, Josephine Mason and Mark Potter

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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