What Could Congress Do to Help Plug Employment Gaps in the Hotel Industry?

Imagine if…… what a specific hotel workers visa would look like…

By Michael Wildes Partner , Wildes & Weinberg | March 18, 2012

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that hotels in this country will need approximately 300,000 new workers by the year 2014. It is a fact that the U.S. is the 2nd most visited country in the world. Tourism is a very important part of the U.S. economy.

But it is clear that there is a need for immigrant workers to fill these roles. This is largely because domestic workers typically shirk hospitality careers, some citing the jobs as too basic given their educational achievements. Hospitality continues to be an unpopular career choice for many U.S. Citizens.

Traditionally immigration regulation and legislation has been reactionary. This means it is usually subject to reform in the aftermath of a triggering event such as terrorism or alternatively after economic conditions change. However, in light of the evidence of growing numbers of tourists expected to hit our shores coming mainly from emerging economy markets such as China and India; Congress should instead try to react prospectively ahead of the change to encourage the hospitality industry to flourish and accommodate the increase in tourist numbers. International tourism is becoming affordable to many more tourists in many previously lower-income countries where travel was a luxury that was out of most people's budgets.
Accordingly the U.S. will need the manpower to accommodate these growing numbers of tourists who will flock to some of the most popular U.S. holiday destinations, such as Florida, California and New York.

Congress should therefore pave the way for a hotel workers visa to plug the impending labor gap in the hotel industry.

Why don't we have this type of visa at the moment?

Visas do exist that cater for hotel jobs. However, they come in a myriad of forms. There is no specific medium to long-term solution at the moment, particularly for general hotel workers, such as housekeeping and catering staff. Congress's approach to specific hotel workers' visas has been piecemeal at best. To work in a hotel, most immigrant workers use the H2B visa. However this is a temporary seasonal visa and is not for long-term usage. Other options for hotel work are dependant upon the managerial/supervisory level of position that the worker is applying for. Take, for example, the E-2 visa for investors from certain listed countries.

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Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.