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HSS Podcast: Ed Burke on the Aimbridge Staffing Strategy

We sat down and spoke with Ed Burke, Vice President of Rooms and Engineering at Aimbridge Hospitality.  In this interview, Ed speaks about how Aimbridge is leveraging staffing partnerships in order to grow during this challenging recover period.

Ed speaks about how the need for labor has evolved as the industry has emerged from the COVID crisis:

What began with simply room attendants in hotels in the spring, when properties started to gain levels of occupancy, has has morphed itself into the other areas of hotel. Food and beverage is now becoming alive in our hotels, in the banquets, in the restaurants and the kitchens. So those areas have become an area of concern with staffing. Front desk has become an area of concern with staffing because a lot of the individuals who at one time were we had only known working at hotels, had worked at hotels for years and years, were forced to go elsewhere, were forced to look at other industries and some of them we lost.

And then there’s also leadership. While I think Ambridge has an outstanding reputation — we still get more resumes than what we need –I think finding the right talent for the right properties is key for us. So right now, my role is very much intertwined with talent and manpower development. We have an outstanding training department that we work pretty closely with, and we’re constantly brainstorming ways to bring in more talent and to develop them.

Shoring up partnerships has also been a vital part of the Aimbridge strategy moving ahead:

How do we take this relationship and make it stronger? And how do we work through some of the issues that all temporary labor agencies are having at the same time? How do we partner better? I can tell you that I would say probably the business [with HSS] is tenfold what it was a year ago today, and that’s largely due to…problem-solving.

Looking ahead, he sees some long term trends evolving from the current labor situation in hospitality:

We had labor challenges prior to COVID.  I think Labor will remain an issue for us all as we go into 2022 and 23 and 24. But even that will look different. How do we perform the tasks that we do every day? What pieces of our business are important to the guest? What pieces of what parts of our day can we do more effectively and efficiently..

We’re constantly looking that that I don’t think that will change. But I think that the retention of associates,  How do we bring them in and make them stay with us for a long period of time so that they want to be a part of our great culture.

Ed also sees guest satisfaction as paramount:

Services to guests changed through COVID. When do we bring them back? What is the most important part of the guest experience for your frequent guests because those are the individuals that fill your hotels on the weekdays as business starts to come back.  What’s important to them? What makes them happy? What are they willing to pay for? What are they willing to to accept? So we have to stay very, very close to our customers.

Guest satisfaction is is key. During COVID, a lot of the guest satisfaction scoring was put on hold. But now that it’s back. So many of the meetings that I’m involved in now talk about how do we make sure that we are getting the best service possible that we have in our hotels regardless of how short staffed we are. We still need to make that happen because we are still charging the guest.

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