Katherine Frost is the founder and CEO of ORO, a tech platform for professional event planners to streamline their workflow by consolidating spreadsheets, binders and contracts into one tool.
Reports across the country are showing that hospitality business owners are currently facing a labor shortage crisis. Restaurants, hotels and bars are all hiring at once to get their businesses back up and running, but, unfortunately, there aren’t enough workers in the job pool to fill open positions.
While most business owners are scrambling to staff bartenders, cooks, managers, etc., many have overlooked staffing event directors and event workers—making this upcoming event surge a lot more complicated for those of us in the events industry hoping to get back on our feet.
Katherine Frost, founder and CEO, OROPhoto: Courtesy of ORO
To help, here are some tips and best practices for how to successfully plan an event during the hospitality labor shortage:
Reintroduce yourself and form new relationships.
You may find your go-to industry venue coordinator or long-time catering partner no longer working or holding the same position. Rather than relying on old partnerships to follow through for your events, plan on taking some time to confirm new contacts at different venues and research new vendors to solidify strong working relationships.
Lean on technology for additional support.
With more events and less personnel to staff them, fine-tuning details and staying on top of deadlines will be imperative to ensuring events run seamlessly this season. To help stay on course and make sure all events follow the correct COVID-19 regulations, have the proper number of staff and that all vendors are allocated, try using an app or planning software to keep everything from contracts, floor plans, checklists and deadlines all in one place.
Make early requests and inquiries.
As the hospitality industry continues to work understaffed, try giving your venue and vendors as early notice as possible. Because the industry is lacking employees, you’re going to find workers in positions they have little experience in, so giving them more preparatory time will be beneficial in the long run.
Additionally, planners need to inquire about staffing for cocktail hour, bar areas and dinner service to understand how different businesses are preparing for the added restrictions brought on by COVID-19. Each venue will be running a little different, so asking questions about social distancing guidelines, will food be plated or buffet dinners, etc., is important.
Work together to find creative solutions.
As hospitality business owners work feverishly to get back on their feet, offering them a little grace during this period will go a long way. If you uncover a certain venue or vendor that is experiencing staffing shortages, work with them to find solutions instead of moving on to another partner. You and your vendors can band together to find creative ways in making events run smoothly while keeping in line with their abilities to execute an event with the number of available workers. Some solutions could include shifting timelines of guest arrival, added signage to direct guests, using technology for certain procedures, etc.
As in-person meetings and events continue to increase throughout the year, it is important everyone in the hospitality and event industries work together during this road to recovery. Planners will play a vital role in bridging the gap for hospitality business owners who are struggling to find staff, but also want to bring back events as we all begin to return to normal life.
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