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Norfolk hotel industry struggles to meet demand with staffing shortages

Sheraton Hotel
Posted at 9:50 PM, Jun 03, 2021

NORFOLK, Va - As businesses bounce back from losses in the pandemic, the hotel industry is no exception. The general manager of the Sheraton Waterside Hotel in Norfolk says they are on the hunt to hire more staff due to a staffing shortage.

Although Virginia’s unemployment rate fell to 4.7% in April, hospitality leaders in Norfolk say there are still a lot of jobs available, especially in hotels.

"Demand far exceeds the workforce that we have," said Kurt Krause, the CEO of Visit Norfolk.

Krause says Norfolk hotels have enough demand to sell out on busy nights but can only accommodate around 80% of that demand due to staffing shortages.

The Sheraton’s general manager says they’ve sometimes had to block off rooms to maintain quality on busy days.

"Staffing has been a challenge this year more than other past years because of the COVID pandemic. We’re typically a hotel that staffs about 180 associates. I’m looking to fill 60-70 employees," Tom England, the General Manager of the Sheraton Waterside Hotel, said.

England says he’s looking to fill several positions from housekeeping to food and beverage. He says the Sheraton has raised the hourly wage for employees in a time where some people are receiving more from unemployment.

"There’s been a couple of positions $1 to $2 and up to $5 for hourly positions," England said.

"Careers are here. The career is not on your couch," Krause said.

According to the Virginia Employment Commission, 217,904 Virginians are on unemployment.

"Some individuals may be making more money staying at home than coming back to work. You can’t fault some of those individuals to take advantage of that situation. What we’ve done is tried to evaluate a lot of those hourly positions and try to raise the bar so it is much more competitive from what they’re getting staying at home," England said.

Related: Virginia Beach hospitality industry facing 'staffing crisis'

Tourism is already starting to pick up. England says the hotel is nearly sold out, with 430 rooms already booked for this weekend.

Hotel and restaurant job openings across the area can be found on the Virginia Restaurant Lodging and Travel Association's Online Job Board.

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