Tourism is starting to bounce back, but Memphis hotels are having trouble keeping up

Travel experts say nationally 39-percent of jobs lost to the pandemic were in the hospitality industry.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis is one of the hottest hotel markets in the country as tourism sees some of the fastest signs of recovering from the pandemic.

As new hotels are opening and guests are booking, there’s just one problem: finding people to work in them.

Hyatt Hotels’ Nicholas Janysek notes the remarkable success of the new Hyatt Centric hotel recently opened on Beale Street.

“We were right in Memphis is going to bounce back quicker than some of your other destinations some of it simply on its location,” said Janysek.

A smash of a grand opening and a steady stream of people ever since.

Now the challenge is staffing the hotel to meet demand.

More than half-a-dozen new hotels opened in Downtown during the pandemic even as Kevin Kane of Memphis Tourism says hospitality workers were forced to quit because of the steep decrease in travel. 

“Our industry was so devastated over the last year with the COVID we probably lost percentage wise and maybe even numbers, but percentage wise we lost more employees than any other industry IN Tennessee,” said Kane.

Travel experts say nationally 39-percent of jobs lost to the pandemic were in the hospitality industry.

That’s about 4 in 10 jobs.

Many of those employees left the industry for good in search of jobs that might be more pandemic proof.

“Some people did pivot and go in a different direction cause they had to work and unfortunately as we’re getting going again we need people and we’re having a hard time getting people,” said Kane.

A job fair held just last week at the newly renovated Renasant Convention Center saw more than 40 hospitality job related businesses from hotels to attractions and restaurants. 

“We had over a hundred show up and about half of them will end up with job opportunities within our industry,” said Kane.

He says with 21,000 new rooms coming on the Memphis market, that equates to lots of jobs to make guests feel comfortable and right now Memphis and Shelby county’s hotel occupancy rate leads the country. 

“Tourism and hospitality has a lot of upward mobility,” said Kane. 

Hospitality experts say this is the perfect time to jump into an upper management position with companies like Hyatt.

“We really pull on all of those benefits to let people know what we can do for them as employees of not only this building, but Hyatt as a whole,” said Janysek.

Kane says more job fairs and are to come to get people into jobs in hospitality.

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