The Covid-19 pandemic has obviously hit the hospitality industry hard. According to the May 2020 American Hotel and Lodging Association’s (AHLA) survey on hotels on job loss and rehiring, nine out of 10 U.S. hotels have laid off or furloughed staff and more than 8,000 may be forced to close. Those numbers don’t bode well if you’re an industry employee.
But as more Americans are receiving vaccines against Covid-19, it appears travel is slowly coming back. According to this NPR article, U.S. airports enjoyed their busiest day in the past year on March 12, 2021, when 1.36 million passengers made their way through airport security.
That may not translate into booking business for the hotel industry, but it certainly signals that now is a good time to start searching for your next hospitality role. But where are the best cities to look for a job? They may not be where you think…
Consider Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida. STR, a hotel market data provider, reported that these cities had the highest average hotel occupancy rate –at 51%– of any major U.S. travel market from January to November 2020. Comparatively smaller than Miami and Orlando, visitors saw Tampa and St. Pete’s relative size as a “safer” bet for travel.
Baltimore should also be on your radar. Landing the top spot on Worth’s 25 Most Resilient U.S. Cities in 2020, Charm City’s proximity to Washington D.C., transportation network and growing tech sector all helped to earn it top marks. But what really secured Baltimore’s place on the list is the fact that is also home to a $1.1 billion, 1.6 million-square-foot Johns Hopkins medical complex, one of the largest in the world. The surrounding hotel industry likely benefits from bookings made by visiting doctors and medical practitioners as well as patients traveling from outside of the immediate area for appointments and treatments.
On the West Coast, San Jose and San Francisco made the top of Bloomberg’s list of U.S. Cities Likely to Recover Faster from the Lockdown. Of course, these California metro areas are national epicenters for tech businesses, electronics manufacturing, venture capital, and academics. But they headed the Bloomberg lineup because companies that profited during the pandemic, including Zoom Video Communications, Inc., Netflix Inc., and Instacart, are all located in the Bay Area. The fact that these companies benefited during Covid-19 also helped the local economy.
On March 14, Clark County, Nevada –where Las Vegas is located—announced the next phase of its Roadmap to Recovery and increased capacity limits of 50 percent for public venues and group gatherings of up to 250. This is great news for the city’s hotels and resorts and in turn, for hotel workers. But keep in mind that Vegas’ concentration of hospitality businesses also means that the city has had a lot of unemployed hotel workers during the pandemic. So competition for hotel jobs will likely be fierce.
Moody’s Analytics has also named Tucson, Arizona as a Top 10 U.S. City Best Positioned to Thrive Post-Pandemic. The city’s low population density and high rates of educational attainment are expected to make it a contender for attracting new career-minded residents who, because of Covid, have become wary of heavily inhabited cities.
If you don’t think of yourself as an urbanite and instead, prefer the great outdoors, look at resorts located in national parks. Visitors have been turning to the U.S.’ national parks for recreation in droves as they look to escape the confines of the Corona virus. Over several weeks late last summer, the number of cars entering Yellowstone exceeded the car count for the same period the year prior. Just keep in mind that a lot of these visitors were camping and not all camping facilities have been open. So the job openings in the parks’ more luxury resorts may be fewer. But if the parks are popular now, the chances are good that they’ll return to normal visitor levels before many other U.S. travel destinations. So keep an open mind when it comes to available jobs in the national parks, especially if they offer an opportunity at gaining customer service experience. Not to mention, there are less beautiful places to work…
By most accounts, the outlook for New York City and the return of its tourism industry are rather bleak. However, you shouldn’t write off your dreams of working in a Big Apple hotel. The city may not bounce back overnight from Covid’s effects on its economy, but if history is any indicator, visitors will again descend on the city. According to Crain’s New York Business, New York City’s population grew to 8.4 million, jobs surged 25 percent while unemployment fell and wages also increased with a decade after the 2008 Financial Crisis. You may not be getting hired in New York City in the immediate future, but this is a hotel destination worth watching.