Daily Podcast: Hilton And Marriott’s Layoff Hangover

Skift Take

Good morning from Skift. It’s Wednesday, March 2, in New York City. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

Rashaad Jorden

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast discusses the labor challenges at two of the world’s top hotel brands, an exile of Russia’s representatives at a major global event, and the lack of diversity at Canadian and U.S. tourism boards.



Episode Notes

Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

Marriott and Hilton laid off thousands of employees during the height of the pandemic, and neither of the two companies expect their labor shortages to be filled anytime soon despite the hotel industry’s recovery, writes Hospitality Reporter Cameron Sperance.

Both of the hotel giants registered significant decreases in staffing numbers from the end of 2019 to the same period last year, according to their most recent annual filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. An uncertain timeframe for travel’s large-scale recovery drove many hotels companies to enact waves of furloughs and layoffs, which Marriott and Hilton indicated in their filings are contributing mightily to their struggles to attract workers.

In addition, Sperance writes the industry has a trust issue with many workers as one hotel executive said many people feel as if hotels will abandon them during a crisis. That’s a major shift from the industry narrative uttered by several executives last year that federal unemployment benefits were steering prospective workers away from hotel jobs.

We turn next to the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. International organizations are increasingly imposing punitive measures against Russia, and the ongoing war has driven one major events industry association to issue its own punishment. The IMEX Group announced on Tuesday that it’s prohibiting Russian state enterprises from participating in its Frankfurt event later this year, reports Miguel Neves, Editor-in-Chief of Skift brand EventMB.

The IMEX Group issued a statement on its social media channels saying it’s excluding Russian state companies from Frankfurt 2022, scheduled to run from May 31 to June 2. The event will be the first major events industry show to bar Russian participation, and the action comes following calls for the industry to address the recent invasion.

Neves writes IMEX’s decision is not insignificant as the group’s model depends heavily on public funding and working directly with government bodies. He added it will be hard to imagine a show with any kind of Russian presence in 2022, regardless of whether the conflict has been resolved by the start of the event or not.

Finally, Global Tourism Reporter Lebawit Lily Girma writes the travel industry has seen progress over the past two years in matters regarding diversity, equity and inclusion. However, many destination marketing organizations, so-called DMOs, have been slow themselves in hiring diverse workforces, she reports.

Destinations International, a DMO member organization, conducted a survey of roughly 500 U.S. and Canadian DMOs that revealed 70 percent of respondents believe they’ve seen significant change in their organization’s diversity commitment in the last year. DMOs have made major improvements on providing training and education programs that mitigate unconscious bias while featuring more diversity in marketing, Girma added.

But only 58 percent of respondents said their DMO is doing a good job of hiring a diverse workforce and being inclusive. In addition, only a quarter strongly believe that their organization embodies diversity, equity and inclusion.

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