HONOLULU (KHON2) — As hotel properties are expecting to see the number of guests reach pre-pandemic levels for spring and summer travel, many operators are working overtime to have enough workers to meet the demand.
Tourism is not expected to slow down anytime soon, as Hawaii will soon reach a milestone by ending its vaccination or negative quarantine test requirement for incoming passengers.
The Prince Waikiki Hotel General Manager Joshua Hargrove said even with international travel’s slow return, they are expecting to see occupancy similar to 2019.
Hargrove said, “I think we are going to see summer this year possibly pass 2019 occupancy and even from a rate perspective as well, too.”
When it comes to room rates, the Hawaii Tourism Authority just released its February hotel performance report. The average daily rate per room statewide hit $351, which was up by 35% compared to last February. Occupancy also went up by 41% from last year.
Hargrove said the hotel has been staffing up to meet demand, daily cleaning room service was reintroduced at the start of March.
“Our housekeeping is our largest department, and so now to be able to give hours and work opportunity to that entire department,” Hargrove said. “And even at this point, searching to hire more housekeeping in was one of the last big steps.”
On the Big Island, hiring continues at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel.
The hotel’s general manager Matthew Pickett said, “It’s a strange labor market, I don’t know, I’ve never seen anything like it. An example is we will have scheduled three or four interviews per day and you know some candidates they don’t even show up for the interview.”
Pickett said they hire qualified candidates right on the spot, knowing other hotel properties are facing similar staffing needs.
Still, the hotel is on its way to hitting record-breaking March, with occupancy in the high 80% to 90%.
Get more coronavirus news: COVID vaccines, boosters and Safe Travels information
Pickett said, “The number of cancellations has come down significantly, the booking window for the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel which has been very, very short is starting to expand which is really positive for us because it allows us to plan.”