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The hospitality industry amidst the pandemic (by Anna Liang)

   

We are in the middle of a pandemic that has affected every aspect of our lives. Many have lost their jobs, and unemployment is at an all-time high. The hospitality industry, in particular, is taking a devastating blow as it depends heavily on travel and a stable economy. As a result, individuals in the hospitality industry are greatly being affected as companies are making the difficult, but necessary decisions to cancel internships and fire employees during the pandemic. Additionally, many hospitality companies are uncertain about what their futures hold.

Under normal circumstances, companies plan for how many employees they need at a given time based on forecasting and demand. Although demand can generally be predicted based on trends, a devastating external factor, such as a pandemic, can throw things out of balance and make planning and forecasting more difficult. The reason being that devastating events are generally not something that a company can predict and plan for ahead of time. Hospitality companies, such as Marriott International, have needed to take drastic measures in order to cut their losses. As a result, individuals are then affected by the decisions of the companies that they work for.

One example can be seen in how Marriott canceled their entire college internship program that was supposed to take place in the summer. Personally, I was one of the individuals who were affected by their decision. Months prior to their decision, I was offered a place in their internship program, and I had already signed a contract with them. However, due to the pandemic, I, unfortunately, lost the opportunity. I can imagine how all the other college students in the program were affected as well; we had solid plans for earning an income and our plans were forcibly taken away from us. We can see how serious the situation is just from their decision as it is not often that a company cancels a large-scale program that gives opportunities to individuals across the United States.

Another example of a drastic measure that Marriott had to take can be seen in how they fired over 600 employees from their headquarters. A large number of people that lost their jobs in this example was from only one location, so we can imagine all the other individuals that lost their jobs in Marriott’s properties nationwide and even internationally. This time, it is not just college students who are losing their internship opportunities. It is the full-time employees who have already started their careers in the hospitality industry, and their jobs are part of their livelihood.

In both of these scenarios, individuals were greatly affected by the necessary decisions of a company. However, from Marriott’s perspective, their priorities lie in keeping their company afloat and getting through this time where demand is extremely low, and the economy is declining. This is how Marriott is adapting to the changing situation, so this can be seen as their way of creating a new plan based on new circumstances.

To conclude, although individuals are negatively affected by a company’s decisions, sometimes it is necessary for the company to make those decisions in order to prevent more losses to the company as a whole. Marriott International is a good example when a company has to make difficult decisions in response to the pandemic. Individuals with prospective and existing careers in the hospitality industry are now uncertain about their future, as the industry continues to suffer in a time of travel restrictions and low demand.

What are some things that hospitality companies can do to potentially help their employees whom they had to lay off? How have you or someone you know in the industry been affected by rising unemployment rates during the pandemic?

Anna Liang is a third-year student at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management and is planning to graduate by 2021. Her work experience includes working for Marriott International as a summer intern, and her other experience includes volunteering in her community. In her career, she aims to work in multiple areas of the hospitality industry in order to diversify her experience. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, journaling, reading, and gaming. She also finds importance in spending quality time with her pets and her friends.

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