Virginia Beach hospitality industry facing 'staffing crisis'

Virginia Beach Oceanfront hotel
Posted at 3:07 PM, May 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-20 23:07:18-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The hotel industry in the city has about 1,100 job openings, according to Virginia Beach Hotel Association President John Zirkle.

"It's a staffing crisis right now. We are desperately searching for employees," Zirkle, who is also the General Manager of the Doubletree near the convention center, said.

The summer tourism season is approaching, which industry leaders hope will be busy.

"If we can't get staffing right, it's going to be a challenge for hotels to operate," Zirkle said.

Some hotels have had to close off rooms because there isn't the staff to keep them up. If people are looking for work, it's not hard to find a job.

"You could walk into any hotel in Virginia Beach, and they're going to hire someone. They're going to hire you. We need staff," said Zirkle.

Some changes are on the way to how unemployment benefits are allocated in Virginia. Starting the week of May 30, people will have to be actively searching for a job. They must provide the contact information of two potential employers on their June 6 benefit claim, according to a video posted by VEC.

Gov. Northam eased the work search requirement in March 2020 as the pandemic began. The federal government has also offered expanded benefits, which will last through September. Experts say those benefits have kept many people home, but the employers hope this change will help.

"We should hope it does. Having to apply for a job, at least gets people out applying, hopefully showing up for interviews," Zirkle said, noting his hotel receives many applications, but some people haven't been showing up to interviews.

It's a similar story at the Schooner Inn off Atlantic Avenue.

Related: "It's very important." Virginia Beach resort area businesses look for rebound in 2021

"We've definitely had trouble finding candidates and getting people to show up for interviews," said John Uhrin, the hotel's General Manager. He estimates his hotel is down five to six employees.

Uhrin is expecting a strong tourist season and says the industry needs these jobs to be filled. "I think we're going to exceed 2019," he said. "I think it's going to be a banner year."