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Recruitment Within a Struggling Hospitality Industry

Throughout 2020 many industries have been decimated by the impact of extended lockdowns, the inability to travel and people’s genuine health concerns. It is not exactly a contest, but one of the worst performing industries during 2020 has been the hospitality industry. With occupancy rates in the single or low double digits, many of the top hotel groups have had no choice but to cut their corporate teams by 15-25% and place thousands more staff on long term furlough. It has completely flipped the recruitment landscape on its head with more candidates on the market than ever before and a severe lack of vacancies.

The last six months

As Covid initially hit, we, like most others, were unaware of the severity of the situation and how this would impact the rest of the year. We started to feel the effects Covid would have on recruitment by mid-April, with several executive search projects being put on hold as well as having a small number of accepted offers unfortunately rescinded. We made the conscious decision to shift our focus into other neighbouring markets such as domestic travel, co-living, and long-term stay/rentals which all had stronger demand.

Covid has impacted the number of candidates our hospitality and leisure team have placed this year, to be candid, down 50% comparatively to 2019. The silver lining is that it has given us the chance to build a stronger and wider reaching network. We have been actively working with CEO’s and senior HR leaders to put together comprehensive recruitment strategies post covid, looking to identify where the talent gaps are likely to be as the market picks up (there has been an abundance of early retirements and voluntary redundancies). It seems likely that the demand for interim candidates is going to grow exponentially as the recovery begins.

Where we have helped

Much of the focus has been advising candidates on tackling their job search. With more candidates on the open market now it is necessary to get the basics right, such as, CV formatting and being thorough with interview preparation. For candidates who are still looking for career development opportunities, we have advised looking at areas of the industry that are prime for a quicker recovery, such as the leisure market. Putting together a job search strategy is the key to success; Have you reached out to industry peers? Have you got a list of target companies? Have you genuinely considered re-location? Have you thought about adjacent industries? Are you up to date on industry trends? Are you aware of start-ups who have just gained funding? Are you connected with private equity firms who make hiring decisions for their portfolio companies?

Looking ahead

2021 can only get better right?! A number of the bigger groups we work with have indicated the hiring freezes will be over by the end of Q1 next year and we have already heard from numerous CEO’s that there is a slight worry that they won’t have the resources to deal with the resurgence when people can travel freely again. This points to a high level of job vacancies throughout the first half of 2021. This is obviously dependent on vaccine distribution and the opening of borders, but we are cautiously optimistic moving forward.

A relevant article summing up hotel trends in Europe following the 2007/8 financial crisis can be found here.


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