Planning Pod Blog


Fresh insights and best practices for event professionals

Hospitality Restaurant Event Industry Staffing Shortage

How the events, hospitality and restaurant industry can tackle labor shortages with technology

by | Mar 10, 2022 | Best Practices, Business, Business Management, Event Industry News, Event Technology, Online Resources, Tech, Tools and Software, Venues

Most employers thought the post-pandemic period would be a time of relief, recovery and growth.

But the Great Resignation (or Great Attrition, The Big Quit, etc.) has made all of us think again … and again, and again.

This has especially been the case for businesses in the events, hospitality and restaurant industries, which have suffered much more than others when it comes to staffing shortages and employee retention for both management and service workers.

And it doesn’t look like things are going to improve for these industries anytime soon.

One recent survey states that 52% of experienced hospitality, event and restaurant workers don’t plan on returning to the industry. Another says that 59% of hospitality and food service staff won’t be coming back.

The reasons these employees have left are myriad, have been covered ad infinitum in the press and surprisingly don’t have much to do with states cutting back on unemployment benefits. As such, they include:

And then there’s the understandable attraction of remote work, higher wages and better benefits and incentives offered by companies outside of the events and hospitality industry.

Additionally, staff turnover rates don’t look any brighter in the near future. The consulting firm McKinsey is reporting that 47% of leisure and hospitality workers plan to quit their jobs within the next 3-6 months (a few clicks above the 40% of employees across all industries who plan to switch to new jobs in that same time period).

FYI – Planning Pod can help you operate with fewer staff and service workers by automating processes, creating timesaving workflows and streamlining communications. That way, you can serve customers better and more efficiently with a smaller team. Learn more about our software.

It’s Time to Press the Reset Button (Not the Panic Button)

Needless to say, this is a come-to-Jesus moment for all event venue, hotel and restaurant owners and managers, because it’s impossible to ignore what’s happening now regarding the employee shortage and stay in business. And we have had more than enough restaurants and hospitality and events businesses shut down permanently in the last 2 years … we don’t need or want any more closures.

Note that this isn’t just an American issue, as event and hospitality businesses throughout the world are facing similar challenges, with many event, hospitality and restaurant jobs remaining open. (We here at Planning Pod can relate as we have also had our own double-whammy of staffing challenges being a software company in the events, hospitality and restaurant industry.)

Most venue managers, event planners, hoteliers and restaurateurs have already been adjusting their business plans on a weekly or monthly basis during the pandemic. But this situation feels different because this ongoing exodus is no longer fueled by the societal and economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic but instead by worker dissatisfaction with the status quo of long hours and earning a minimum wage.

So if you haven’t already taken a long, hard look at your business model, now is the time to assess if it’s sustainable based on this new era we have entered, because there is no reason to assume that things will go back to the way they were.

Many hospitality and events businesses have already embraced change and have instituted short-term stopgaps like raising prices and cutting back on business hours (even some fast food and fast casual locations like McDonald’s and Starbucks have whittled down their operating hours).

In that same vein, some hotels and hotels groups are resetting customer expectations by reducing services like daily housekeeping/clean linens (BTW, don’t forget the customer blowback the airlines suffered when they started nickel-and-diming customers for previously complimentary services). Similarly, understaffed event venues are booking event clients further out with the hope that their staffing shortages will be resolved further down the road.

Even though these measures may be providing some relief, we all know they aren’t viable long-term solutions to the ongoing venue, restaurant and hospitality staffing shortage because they all eat into ever shrinking profit margins, and you can’t continue to raise prices and not improve service/product quality without lots of customer pushback.

Speaking of customers … as they return in droves after being cooped up for 2 years, so have their expectations. In fact, customer expectations are pushing past pre-pandemic levels as they seek even more value for their hospitality and dining dollar.

One obvious and necessary long-term solution to solving the event, restaurant and hospitality labor shortage is to invest in new employees and create a nurturing environment where they are compensated fairly, valued and mentored. Many businesses have already bumped salaries far beyond pre-pandemic levels (and way past the minimum wage) and are offering incentives like health insurance and flexible hours and schedules (especially important for parents with young children).

Future staff retention may require recruiting younger people who have little to no industry experience and grooming them to grow and advance professionally as their careers unfold. It may also include updating your business and management model to give employees more skin-in-the-game by keeping them informed of the performance of the business and even opening your books to them.

However, one less obvious but just as important long-term solution is using widely available technology to automate processes and streamline operations so that you are never again unprepared for staff shortages.

Addressing Staffing Shortages With Technology and Business Automation

1. Use online job search platforms and recruiters to market your brand to job seekers and attract qualified applicants

Most hotel and restaurant operators and events business owners are so busy filling in as bartenders, line cooks, servers and front-of-house staff that they don’t have time to recruit, interview, hire and train new staff members

The only way to get past these short-term challenges is to adopt competitive hiring practices that go far beyond hanging out a “help wanted” sign (see top of article) and position your business as a desirable place to work through directly marketing to job seekers.

Industry-specific job search engines like HCareers and Hospitality Online as well as larger platforms like are great places to expose new, young job seekers to your brand as well as communicate with them what sets you apart. For managerial positions, industry job placement and recruitment agencies like Restaurant Zone can help with finding more experienced candidates.

You can also consult your local or state restaurant or hospitality association if they have job boards you can participate in.

2. Put in place business automations to remove internal bottlenecks and barriers to doing business with you

If your business operations are reliant on manual processes – like internal handoffs of notes/documents or calls/meetings between staff members and/or clients – then what happens when someone doesn’t follow through properly or something gets dropped or overlooked during busy times? Then things break down fast, especially when demand is high and event spaces, meeting rooms and dining rooms are booked out many months in advance.

Using technology and software to create automations – like sending automated email or text reminders to staff and clients to prompt them to act, or automatically generating BEOs with data your staff has already entered – removes the burden of these activities from your staff members so they can focus on serving customers and preparing for meals and events, not on busywork.

Banquet Event Order BEO Tool - Planning Pod
Instead of manually creating documents like banquet event orders for every event or private group, technology like Planning Pod lets your staff create BEOs in minutes by automatically populating documents with data you have already entered.

FYI – Having these automations in place means that you no longer have to train new staff on all the follow-through required with manual processes. It also means that you spend less time monitoring them until those manual processes are part of their daily routine.

3. Utilize templates and workflows to create easily trainable, repeatable processes

Many event venues, hotels and restaurants with group/private sales still create proposals, contracts and invoices manually in Word or Google documents, which can be massively time consuming if you have to customize each document for every new prospect or event client (not to mention all the emailing back and forth and revisions).

What if, instead of manually creating and updating every document for every event, you started with reusable templates that employ data merge technology to auto-populate client names, contact details, headcounts and more?

And what if you could daisychain these templates together into digitized workflows where signatures are collected electronically for proposals and invoices, invoices are created from proposals in a single click, information is updated automatically into documents based on changes elsewhere (like food-and-beverage packages) and clients are prompted to make invoice payments based on predetermined, standardized schedules?

It’s these kinds of workflows and templatized processes that make it easy to get new staff up and running quickly, enable fewer staff members to manage more events and remove many human errors and oversights from your business.

Planning Pod Event Proposals
Proposal, contract and invoice templates let you create documents in minutes. Workflows let you easily share them with clients via email or online portals, then collect signatures and make payments online, saving you and your staff effort and time.

4. Employ integrated event CRM and lead management tools to fix leaky lead pipelines and simplify sales outreach

With mask and social distancing mandates dropping off and demand returning to (and sometimes exceeding) pre-pandemic levels, many front-of-house staff and event and catering salespeople are finding themselves drinking from a firehose as new prospects pour in. 

Staying in touch with each of these leads is vital to the long-term health of your business, and customer relationship management (CRM) systems can systematize how your salespeople manage their details, when to follow up with them and how to track them through each step in your pipeline.

Often a big challenge of lead management – especially when things are busy – is ensuring every lead makes it into your funnel from a variety of sources (website, phone, email, social media platforms, in-person, referrals, etc.) without losing them. Tools like lead capture webforms (which you embed into pages on your website and all queries automatically get pushed into your CRM), phone call logs and integrations with other lead gen platforms (like The Knot or Wedding Wire) can streamline lead intake so you and your team don’t have to worry about the logistics of lead collection.

An event CRM can let your team easily collect leads from various sources and manage them as they flow through your pipeline.

5. Benefit from smart email solutions and client portals to streamline communications with clients and staff

Email, text messages and even handwritten notes can be effective modes of communication … if the message makes it through, gets read and is followed up on.

Unfortunately, overworked front-of-house and back-of-house staff may not always have the time to sort through their ever-growing inbox at the end of a long day, and written notes and Post-Its have a way of disappearing in the workplace shuffle.

Having a centralized place where all staff can enter, view and make adjustments to vital data is just the start of streamlining how team members stay in-the-know.

With regard to staying in touch with clients, tools that pull together all email communications in a central inbox related to prospects and client events make it easy for all team members to view and respond to urgent messages. Directing your clients to interact with you and your team via an online client portal makes it convenient for them to interact with you regarding signatures, payments, completed tasks and more, all the while eliminating more busywork for your team to track down and organize these details.

Planning Pod Event Email Communications
Being able to view all email messages between team members and clients in a single inbox can expedite how quickly your staff can respond to inquiries and nip issues in the bud before they become big problems.

6. Use dashboards, reports and other business intelligence to stay ahead of problems and anticipate opportunities

As a hotel, restaurant or event venue owner or manager, this might be the biggest benefit to you as you reshape your business strategy and address staffing shortages over the coming months.

Why? Because by getting a bird’s eye view of your business performance and seeing trends and hard data will enable you to make more informed business decisions in less time.

Dashboards provide a clear snapshot of your current condition – what has been completed and what hasn’t, who has paid and who hasn’t, what clients have you landed and lost. Filterable reports give a longer view so you can see your historical performance, suss out trends and forecast what resources and inventory you require to serve customers in the future.

Planning Pod Home Page Dashboard
Dashboards and filterable reports give you a 30,000 foot view of your events, hospitality or restaurant business so you have real-time data to make fully informed decisions.

The Result – Stability and Growth

Implementing these measures may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. But the benefits will more than pay for the time and money you spend now with lower staff turnover rates, higher employee satisfaction, more efficient business operations and higher profit margins.

You’ve made it this far by surviving the last year or two of this marathon pandemic … now is the time to dig deep and finish that final mile.

Planning Pod’s software for event venues, restaurants and hotels can help your business thrive with fewer staff by streamlining processes and taking away busywork from overworked team members, freeing them up to better serve customers. Learn more about our tools.

1 Comment

  1. Shannon Bryant

    I enjoyed this blog and the insights you provided for everyone in the events industry. These are great steps that I will incorporate and follow from now on. Thank you for sharing!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *