The Hospitality Labor Shortage, Its Causes, & STR Tech Solutions

Don’t let labor shortages get in the way of your operations

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of June 2022, there were over 1.4 million job openings in leisure and hospitality—as well as over a million people who left their position in the industry. The hospitality labor shortage is a serious issue for the sector, and its causes are deeply rooted in industry practices, as well as stemming from the pandemic. 

However, you don’t have to let labor shortages undermine your vacation rental business. There are solutions you can implement in your short-term rental operations to reduce reliance on staff members while upholding the quality of the guest experience.


Learn about the hospitality labor shortage, what’s causing it, and what you can do to combat it.


Economic News Release: Job Openings, Hires, And Total Separations By Industry, Seasonally Adjusted”. 2022. 

Read other chapters in The Reservation Recession.

Discover Operto, a hospitality software solution that can help you reduce your staffing needs and scale your business, even in the face of industry-wide labor shortages.

Want to learn how?

Why your staff are leaving the hospitality industry

Leisure and hospitality was the hardest hit industry by the pandemic, and even though wages in accommodation and food services grew more than in any other sector following the lockdown of spring 2020, hospitality businesses are still struggling to hire the staff they need. 


But even before Coronavirus, the hospitality industry was a difficult place to work. Historically tarnished by long hours and low wages, many former hospitality workers have left the field and embraced the new types of work opportunities that came out of the pandemic, like remote positions that allow for more flexible hours and schedules.

So despite higher pay and plenty of job openings, you may be struggling to hire enough employees to run your short-term rental business. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find other solutions—while many hospitality workers are moving to other sectors, there are techniques you can implement to draw them back, as well as new solutions that can help do the work they were once responsible for.

Use short-term rental operations software like Operto Teams to manage your calendar efficiently and reduce dependency on staff
Use short-term rental operations software like Operto Teams to manage your calendar efficiently and reduce dependency on staff

Issues the industry’s now facing

With an annual turnover rate of over 73%, it can be hard to attract and retain skilled workers in the hospitality industry. Another added challenge is managing seasonal fluctuations—for many in the short-term rental industry, your staffing needs vary throughout the year. 


Simon Lehmann, Co-Founder and CEO of the vacation rental consulting firm AJL Atelier, shares some insights on these challenges and how to combat them: 

“While labor shortage in the hospitality industry is a global challenge, we need to think about what we can do to minimize its impact on operations. Sourcing and applying technology that will help you become more efficient is the way to go. 


The question to ask yourself here is which processes could be replaced by technology without jeopardizing the guest experience—your staff, on the other hand, should be positioned in the roles where they can provide the greatest value.”


What’s making a difference in coping with the labor shortage

While the hospitality labor shortage causes uncertainty, there are ways you can combat its impact. Take a look at these ways (below) to attract employees to your open positions and cover the ones you can’t fill with tech solutions. 


Just be sure to focus your efforts appropriately: Wil Slickers, founder of Hospitality.FM and host of Slick Talk: The Hospitality Podcast, shares his advice on where to look for solutions to staffing shortages and where to prioritize your employees: 


“Don’t cut staff without actually going over the numbers and responsibilities associated with each role. Where can you combine roles? How can you cut back on employees while keeping quality high-level staff? These are the questions you need to be asking. 


I always look for where my team is spending the most time and resources to figure out how we can make our operations more efficient and continue to focus on profitability.”


Work-life balance and flexible schedules

According to Joblist, 38% of former hospitality workers reported they weren’t considering a hospitality job for their next position. Many of these workers transitioned out of the industry in search of higher pay (45%), better benefits (29%), and more schedule flexibility (19%).


So while significantly raising wages may not be within your budget, there are other ways to attract skilled staff members to your team. By offering a work-life balance and flexible schedules, you can entice people who are leaving hospitality jobs due to a lack of these benefits. 


Since the hospitality industry is infamous for long, hard hours, make work-life balance and schedule flexibility a key element of your job posting. Though it’s not realistic to let your employees work whatever hours they want (guests have to be attended to, after all), be reasonable and understanding with staff, offering perks like four-day workweeks and schedules that best fit their personal needs. 

Many hospitality workers have transitioned out of the industry in search of higher pay (45%), better benefits (29%), and more schedule flexibility (19%).

Short-term rental operations software

Staffing shortages don’t have to undermine your operations—with the right vacation rental operations software, you can find alternative ways to carry out operational tasks. 


Look for a solution that offers features like:


  • PMS integrations so you can seamlessly manage all your reservations
  • Automated employee scheduling and workload balancing
  • Auto-generated tasks to ease task management
  • Employee route optimization to maximize efficiency and output
  • A unified dashboard where you can see all your calendars and schedules in one place


By optimizing your operations and harnessing the power of automation, the hospitality worker shortage doesn’t have to negatively impact the guest or host experience, and you’ll be able to spend more time focusing on scaling your property management business.


Use short-term rental operations software to optimize operational efficiency and reduce your dependence on staff. 

Operto Teams can help you streamline your operations, minimize your staffing needs, and make your short-term rental business more scalable.

Hospitality smart tech

Another great way to minimize staffing needs is by leveraging smart home technology for vacation rentals, like keyless locks and temperature control. By offering your guests contactless check-in, you can give them access to their unit without having to send a staff member over to let them in. 


And a smart thermostat for energy control means you can monitor and control the temperature of your units remotely—no need to send an employee over to turn on the A/C before a guest arrives.

Remote access is just one of the ways you can use smart tech to reduce your staffing needs
Remote access is just one of the ways you can use smart tech to reduce your staffing needs

Guest experience platforms

Our final tip for combatting the labor shortage is guest experience software. With the right solution, you’ll be able to significantly reduce pressure on staff to address guest inquiries and questions. 


A guest experience platform can offer features like: 


  • Digital guidebooks where you can answer guest questions before they even have to ask them
  • House manuals to provide instructions on where to find things and how to operate appliances, cutting back on guest inquiries
  • Seamless guest messaging so you can keep in touch with guests no matter where you are
  • A manager dashboard where you can oversee all your guest and team communication
  • In-app upsells to increase your revenue without any extra work


With guest engagement software, you make yourself available to your guests 24/7 without having to be physically present. That means you can reduce your staffing needs without sacrificing the guest experience

With a manager’s dashboard, you can oversee all your communication in one place.
With a manager’s dashboard, you can oversee all your communication in one place.

Operto Guest’s digital guidebooks answer your guests’ questions so you don’t have to. Discover how it can help you reduce guest inquiries and cut back on staff.

Don’t let labor shortages hold you back from scaling your business

While the hospitality labor shortage may be causing you concern, there’s no reason for it to hit your business in the same way it’s hit others in the sector. By implementing vacation rental technology, you can reduce your staffing needs while giving your guests an exceptional experience. 


Embrace solutions like short-term rental operations tools, guest engagement platforms, and hospitality smart tech to scale your property management business in spite of an industry-wide labor shortage. 

Reduce your staff dependency with Operto and make it through the hospitality labor shortage not only surviving, but thriving.

Learn how today.

Frequently asked questions about the hospitality labor shortage


What are some of the long-term effects of a labor shortage?

When an industry sees an ongoing labor shortage, some of the long-term effects include:

  • Higher wages 
  • High staff turnover
  • Lengthy hiring processes

The labor shortage currently facing the short-term rental and hotel industry may have some of these implications, but know that there are ways to counterbalance them through hiring strategies and hospitality tech solutions. 


What is the average wage for hospitality workers?

The average wage for hospitality workers in 2022 is $17 per hour or $33,150 annually. However, due to the increase in average wages that could result from the hospitality labor shortage, these figures may increase in the coming months and years. 


What is the solution to the labor shortage in hospitality and restaurants?

There are several ways to combat the labor shortage in hospitality and restaurants. The first is attracting new employees and improving retention with extra benefits, flexible hours, and better work-life balance. Another solution is hospitality tech software, which allows you to reduce your reliance on staff while still offering an exceptional experience to your guests and customers.