Case Study: Spring Break Hospitality Staffing Texas Style
Spring is definitely a peak season for Texas and for spring break hospitality staffing. Not only does Spring Break hit the Lone Star State earlier than Florida, but major events like the Houston Rodeo, SXSW, and Fiesta San Antonio kick off in March and April. In addition, there’s an expansive definition of Spring Break in Texas. It’s not just college kids at the beach. Spring Break encompasses families and couples traveling to a warmer climate to visit cities like Austin and San Antonio in addition to coastal getaways like Galveston. Collectively, Spring Break represents over $1 Billion in economic activity split between Florida and Texas with Texas catching up to Florida as a year round vacation state.
At HSS, we work with hotels, resorts and restaurants, providing spring break hospitality staffing in Texas and beyond planning their spring break hospitality staffing. Peak times are often when we are most busy filling the needs of our new customers. It’s also a time that we get to know many new customers.
Often, hotels, resorts, event producers, restaurants, caterers, and any other kind of hospitality business experiences staffing agencies for the first time during a time of unexpected need. This is because peak seasons are a time of great unpredictability. If workers call off, demand surges more than expected, or overtime is stretched to the limit for existing workers, a hospitality staffing agency like HSS can fill the gap. However, this isn’t always the best way of working. Last minute orders make up a small part of the services we typically offer.
Spring Break in Texas offers a unique case history in how staffing agencies like HSS work with hotels, resorts, event spaces, restaurants and others through an important peak season.
The Peak Is Really More of Kickoff
Spring Break as a peak season is really a misnomer. In terms of occupancy and revenue it’s actually a kickoff to the rest of the year. For example, while hotel occupancy ramps up for spring break in many beach locations, occupancy is much higher in the summer. This doesn’t mean that spring break isn’t significant; it’s just the start of a much bigger growth trend into summer.
For this reason HSS uses this start of the season to work with current customers on their spring break hospitality staffing needs, but also on our recruiting efforts. Working with a pool of people who are looking for work in housekeeping, as servers, line cooks, dishwasher, janitors and more, we’re able to anticipate the needs of our clients and also anticipate the needs of the marketplace. Often, the beginning of Spring Break gives us important information when it comes to wages and labor supply. It also informs us on how long it will take to fill positions at different levels of experience. This intelligence often carries through the rest of the year as a predictor of how the summer season will trend.
In Texas It’s More Than Beaches
As we mentioned earlier, Texas tends to see a surge in hospitality business in areas throughout the State. From rodeos to river walks, Texas has become more of a generalized tourist destination. Many businesses are caught off guard by the surge in the need for hospitality staff at the start of the season or they find it difficult to plan for with a tight labor market and limited recruiting capabilities. This isn’t because they don’t know about a large event happening. In fact, hotels are very aware of large events occurring in their city. It’s just if attendance is higher than previous years and the labor pool is tighter, dynamics of staffing change radically.
For example, during the Houston Rodeo, HSS helped clients fill last minute positions surrounding the event when attendance and interest in the event reach unexpectedly high levels. We were able to fill those positions and now can work with those clients to help plan more long term.
In addition, areas like San Antonio and Austin have grown as Spring Break destinations catering more to families and couples. SXSW, the music, technology, and cultural festival, has grown into an iconic event for Austin attracting almost 425,000 people from all over the world during two weeks in March every year. Similar to the Houston Rodeo (maybe the only similarity), we work with current customers to plan for this huge event and often work with new clients to fill unexpected high demand or fill gaps left by employee turnover or a need to reduce overtime.
Spring Break San Antonio: Big Business
San Antonio’s hospitality industry has grown by more than 66% in the past 15 years representing a $13.4 billion a year economic impact for the city. A good deal of the activity kicks off during the Spring Break season. For example, Fiesta San Antonio begins every April. Started in 1891 as a parade to honor the heroes of the Alamo, it’s an event that today has an economic impact of more than $340 million. 3.5 million people participate in the event and about 20% come from out of state making it a major part of the Spring peak season.
HSS works with its clients to plan for increased demand in spring break hospitality staffing and work with new clients to fill unexpected needs in a wide range of areas from housekeeping to food service and other spring break hospitality staffing needs. With events like these the definition of Hospitality Staffing greatly expands with catering companies, event producers, caterers and restaurants all seeing a surge in activity surrounding these types of events.
The Formula for Success
Planning for a peak season like Spring Break is more complicated than it first seems. Although the timeframe of the season is predictable, an array of factors can play into what occupancy will be. Everything from weather to world events can impact staffing needs. In addition, attendance to single events can increase dramatically year over year.
For these reasons, we stress the need to utilize staffing not as a stop gap. It should be a part of your overall planning for a peak season. We tend to work with our clients to determine their goals long in advance that addresses all of the dynamics of staffing. Providing a high quality experience for guests is always a top concern. But there are other factors that need to be considered. For example, overtime is often overlooked in the planning stages. Overtime paid to existing staff can be an expensive way to handle a surge in demand. In addition, overtime pay means that workers are stretched to their limits and may not perform as well. Workers with too few hours, in turn, have a higher risk of turnover.
A Strategy Moving Ahead
HSS works with clients to plan for surges in spring break hospitality staffing with workers that are qualified and experienced. We don’t scramble at the last minute to find workers. We work with clients to hire from a pool of talent and then implement those workers in the best ways that match skills with client requirements.
A peak season also sees a surge in other types of businesses beyond hotels. The restaurant business also sees a surge during this time. Since these types of businesses usually have less experience working with contingent labor, they may not plan ahead or realize some of the cost savings that can occur with planning through a season using contingent labor.
Has Spring Break Hospitality Staffing taken you by surprise? Don’t feel bad. Estimating the size of a peak season can be difficult even for experts. The good news is that you can use Spring Break as of a kick off into the rest of the season. Implementing a staffing strategy today can help build a strong season overall to ensure that quality standards remain high and costs are controlled. It also ensures that last minute decisions are kept to an absolute minimum. At HSS, we work with clients to navigate the complexities of peak seasons by looking at what they need to balance in terms of budget, quality, and demand along with staff turnover, wage trends, and talent pool. These strategies help our customers get the most out of Spring Break and beyond.