top of page

Dealing With a Multi-Gen Workforce, AI, Gig Workers + 6 Other Key Trends You Need to Know From the HSMAI 3rd Annual State of Talent Report

It's no secret that finding and retaining talent has become one of the greatest challenges for the hotel industry post-COVID. According to the new HSMAI Foundation Special Report: The State of Hotel Sales, Marketing, and Revenue Optimization Talent 2023-2024, staffing levels won't return to pre-COVID levels until 2031! This means understanding the current workforce trends is key to success, which is why we've turned to the author of the report, Dorothy Dowling, Managing Director, Horwath HTL, and a special advisor to the HSMAI Foundation board, to learn more about the nine trends she uncovered.

Dorothy Dowling HSMAI Report

Hi Dorothy, what are the nine key talent trends identified in the HSMAI Foundation Special Report: The State of Hotel Sales, Marketing, and Revenue Optimization Talent 2023-2024, and can you share the main explainer points for each?

Thanks for asking! I'd be happy to share an overview of the nine key findings.

1. Meeting the Needs Of Multigenerational Workforces

  • Promote cross generational learning through mentorship and collaboration. 

  • Staffing levels are predicted to return to pre-COVID levels by 2031. There is a slow entry of new employees into the workplace and retention of older workers.  

  • Digital academies can provide advanced training in digital skills. 

2. The Rise Of The Gig Economy and Fractional Staffing Models

  • A marketing mindset and dedication to employer branding is needed for recruiting.

  • Gig, fractional,  and independent workers are growing in relevance and value.

3. Retention Through Upskilling, Reskilling and Upward Mobility

  • Hands on learning can fuel the talent pipeline. 

  • Internal employment marketplaces can increase retention. 

  • Lifestyle contracts, development plans, and career mapping are expected.

4. Transforming Employee Engagement

  • Employee engagement is a pivotal metric. 

  • Listening and learning from employees’ fuels efficiency and productivity. 

  • Utilize dynamic employee engagement tools.

5. Leadership Defines Culture and Organizational Purpose

  • Leaders must connect the dots for teammates to contribute effectively. 

  • Employee well-being are foundational pillars in successful hospitality business. 

  • Upskilling investments to leverage new technology.

6. Return to Office and Hybrid Work Models

  • Culture and teamwork are fueled by intentional efforts like collaboration days. 

  • Some see in-office work as important for career growth. 

  • Discussion continues how fully remote employees are tied to different compensation models.

7. Cross Functional Teamwork and The Evolution Of Commercial

  • Cross functional teams require effective leadership, people development, collaboration, and training. 

  • Shared objectives and KPIs  help cross functional teams.

  • Labor shortages and the changing demographics of the workplace make cross functional teams more important.

8. The Rise of AI

  • AI is indispensable, enhancing efficiencies across commercial functions. 

  • Embracing AI is becoming the key to unlocking its full potential.

9. Prioritizing Emotional Wellness

  • Employees value workplace cultures that prioritize personal growth and happiness.

  • Leaders need to ensure employee engagement surveys to provide insights into employee well-being.

Wow, that is a lot to unpack! Let's start with the aging workforce and that we now have four different generations working side by side. What is the best way for leadership to approach this?

Embracing the demographic shift in hospitality means recognizing that age is not a barrier, but a valuable asset. In an industry where experience and wisdom are invaluable, we must welcome and empower older workers as they redefine what it means to be 'young at heart.' After all, in hospitality, 60 isn't just a number; it's the new 30, representing a wealth of knowledge, passion, and dedication waiting to be tapped into.


Combining the expertise of older workers with the digital savvy of Gen Z through teaming enriches our capabilities with diversity, wisdom, and technological proficiency. It's a strategic blend that propels us forward, ensuring we stay adaptable and ahead of the curve in the hospitality industry.


It is also amazing to see the rise of flexible working in hospitality, that is certainly a big mindset shift, much different then when I started in the biz.

Yes, very different than even a few years ago! Flexibility and the rise of gig work is one of the most welcome changes, and especially beneficial to caregivers as it can allow for that with relative ease thanks to improvements in technology.

Looking at this report with a broad view, what do you think is the biggest takeaway?

The need to approach talent with a marketing mindset. This is not just a strategy, but a necessity. It's about attracting talent, nurturing their growth, and fostering engagement to unlock discretionary productivity. By prioritizing retention and maximizing the contributions of every employee, we create a culture of continuous learning and innovation, ensuring our teams remain a driving force in shaping the industry's future.

Thank you for these insights, Dorothy. Click here for the full HSMAI 3rd Annual State of Talent Report.


bottom of page