Hawaii hotel staffing shortfalls are getting worse, much worse. Take the largest of all hotels here, the Hilton Hawaiian Village, for example. There, staff shortages have collided with hotel union contracts that have just expired, leaving some 6,000 workers without any agreement. We’re left wondering where this is all going to end. Industry stakeholders must ensure that Hawaii travel remains attractive to all.
Hawaii hotels impacted by the latest expired contract.
Hilton Hawaiian Village – 3,386 rooms
Hyatt Regency Waikiki 1,230 rooms
Sheraton Waikiki – 1,636 rooms
Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort – 1,310 rooms
Short staffing at 97% of all hotels. 58% are in need of housekeepers.
Across the US and here in Hawaii, virtually all hotels are experiencing a shortage of staff they cannot fill, with one-half saying they’re severely understaffed. That’s according to the latest Amerian Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) study. Not unexpected, 58% of hotels say that housekeeping shortages are their greatest challenge. That was based on a survey of 500 hotels at the end of May.
The new norm is to extend bonuses and other incentives. As a result, 91% have increased wages, 71% have added more flexibility, and 43% have more benefits.
There are said to be more than 130k open positions nationally.
Hotel workers in Hawaii are seeking better pay and benefits.
UNITE HERE Local 5, Hawaii’s Hospitality and Healthcare Union wants to restore service and staffing levels to those pre-pandemic. Union board member Jason Maxwell said, “We got to get the services back that bring the jobs back to this community and not just allow these owners to go up on the hotel prices. The hotel prices are the highest I’ve ever seen in the 20 years in this industry, and the guests are paying it, and they’re trying to convince these guests that they should pay it with less service.”
The union said what we could confirm, which is that many hotels haven’t resumed prior services, including room service dining, food/beverage amenities, and daily housekeeping. Reducing housekeeping services and not resuming other services makes it hard to rebuild our Hawaii travel industry and make Hawaii travel exceptional once again.
Hilton Hawaiian Village has indicated merely that it is in negotiations on the contract. The company said it’s confident that an amicable agreement will still be reached.
Lack of services, including daily room service, has become a national issue.
While we first noted it here in Hawaii, we recently saw this on the national front. In Hawaii’s “neighbor,” Los Angeles, a new ordinance passed and soon to go into effect states that daily room cleaning is standard practice. Supported by their local hotel workers union of 32k employees, it makes daily room cleaning mandatory and addresses compensation and other measures, including employee safety.
Employees vs. hotel owners square off.
The hotel unions contend that reduced or on-request room cleaning is a blatant attempt to reduce labor costs, which results in an undue burden on housekeepers, among other problems.
Hotel managers and owners, however, claim that reduced daily cleanings are what consumers now prefer. Hyatt’s CEO claimed last month that daily housekeeping reduction is an aspect of their alignment to “understand what’s really important” to hotel guests. He said, “Some of our luxury travelers don’t want daily housekeeping — they affirmatively don’t want it. So, we have to pay attention and apply choice where it’s requested.”
Last Hawaii hotel strike.
We can’t say how this will end and whether or not a Hawaii hotel strike is in the cards once again. The last strike was in 2018 and affected Sheraton Kaiulani, Sheraton Maui, The Royal Hawaiian, Westin Moana Surfrider, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani , and Sheraton Maui.
Do you want daily room service at Hawaii hotels?
While Hawaii visitors obviously don’t expect room cleaning at vacation rentals, the lack of room cleaning at hotels is an entirely different matter. We’d greatly welcome your feedback on this topic!