12 Tips for Planning for the Busy Hospitality Season

The hospitality industry is known for its seasonal peaks, especially during the high tourism months of summer. For the people in charge of hiring, this can be both an exciting and challenging period. Effective staffing strategies are crucial to ensure smooth operations and exceptional customer service — and for keeping your role as a hiring manager as pain-free as possible. 

Here at Star Staffing, we work every year to help hospitality industry clients fill roles quickly and effectively, so we’ve learned a thing or two about navigating the busy tourism season.  Here’s our guide for executing an effective seasonal hiring plan, including what to look for when hiring seasonal workers, how to ensure you’re properly staffed when the crowds arrive, and how to handle unexpected job vacancies.


In this article: 


Top Takeaways:

  1. Review last year’s hospitality season data
  2. Start hiring seasonal workers early
  3. Build a relationship with your local staffing agency
  4. Crosstrain employees
  5. Have a contingency plan for unexpected no-shows


How to Hire Seasonal Workers Who Do Great Work

Whether you work in travel and tourism (TT), hotels, food and beverage (F&B), or recreation and entertainment, hiring seasonal workers can be a daunting task. It makes sense — many of the folks you hired last year will have moved on, and you’re taking a risk hiring new workers ahead of hospitality’s busiest season. Plus, there’s an art to hospitality — even when it comes to entry-level temp positions

Still, you can find reliable and skilled employees with the right approach. Here are some tips to guide you:


1. Start Early

Begin your seasonal recruitment process well in advance of the busy season (meaning now). Review your data from last year as soon as possible — how many seasonal workers did you hire? Did you find yourself scrambling to hire additional workers part-way through the season? This should help you gauge your hiring needs this year. Once you have a clear picture, start your temp hiring process ASAP to give yourself ample time to screen candidates and ensure they meet your standards.


2. Leverage Multiple Recruitment Channels

The busy season is the time to use all your platforms. Reach out via email or phone to the seasonal workers you used last year to check their availability. Post to your social media accounts. Work with a hospitality-specific recruitment agency in your area to get your job openings in front of their applicant network. By spreading the word everywhere, you’ll increase your reach and help attract a diverse pool of candidates.


Star Tip: If you’re located in Northern California and not already working with us,  let’s chat! Hospitality is one of our specialties. 


3. Conduct Thorough Interviews

Don’t rush the interview process. Ask detailed questions to gauge candidates’ experience, skills, and customer service aptitude. Also, consider conducting practical assessments to see how they handle real-life scenarios. If you or your team has too much on their plate to conduct these interviews, now is the perfect time to partner up with a staffing agency that can help vet and interview candidates for you. 


4. Offer Competitive Pay and Benefits

Attract top talent by offering competitive wages, flexible working hours, and other benefits such as staff meals and accommodation. If you’re not sure what benefits to consider, what do competitors in your area offer to their seasonal workers? Try to find ways to provide more perks than they do, and mention them in all your job descriptions! 


How to Make Sure You’re Properly Staffed

Ensuring you have the correct number of staff during peak seasons is critical for maintaining service quality. But how do you know for sure what’s coming?


1. Analyze Historical Data

We’ve already said it once in this article: data. When it comes to proper seasonal staffing, numbers are everything. Review past data to understand staffing needs during previous busy seasons. Then, identify patterns and use this information to forecast your seasonal staffing requirements.


2. Create a Staffing Plan

Develop a detailed staffing plan that outlines the number of employees needed for each department. Consider factors such as expected guest numbers, special events, and potential absenteeism. Run this outline by other members of your team, particularly any stakeholders in different departments, to get their feedback and added insight. Tackling peak season madness is a group effort! 


3. Implement a Flexible Scheduling System

If possible, create flexible shifts that accommodate both full-time and part-time workers.  This ensures you can adjust staffing levels as needed. You can use a scheduling app or software for this or work with a staffing agency to help you set and organize a work schedule for temp team members. 


4. Cross-Train Employees

Train your staff to handle multiple roles as needed. Even a tiny amount of extra training adds versatility to your team and allows you to reassign employees to different tasks if necessary. It’s also a way of increasing employee retention — if your employees feel supported with training and upskilling, they’re more likely to stay longer and potentially return next season. 


What to Do with Unexpected Job Vacancies

Unexpected vacancies can disrupt operations, especially during peak seasons. While they’re sometimes unavoidable with seasonal workers, you can manage them. 


1. Build Relationships with a Specialized Staffing Agency 

Partner with reputable staffing agencies that specialize in the hospitality industry in your area. They can provide qualified candidates quickly to fill urgent vacancies. (And if you’re already working with Star, we’re here to help!)


2. Maintain a Pool of On-Call Staff

Keep a list of reliable temporary workers who can step in at short notice. This ensures you have backup options when needed. You can also consider offering a bonus stipend to anyone willing to step up on last-minute notice. 


3. Encourage Employee Referrals

Incentivize your current staff to refer friends or acquaintances for open positions. Employee referrals often result in high-quality hires more likely to fit your company culture.


4. Have a Contingency Plan

Prepare a contingency plan to address potential staffing shortages. This could include adjusting operating hours, reallocating tasks among current staff, or temporarily reducing services.


Planning for the busy hospitality season requires strategic thinking and proactive measures. By digging into past data, hiring the right seasonal workers, ensuring proper staffing, and coming prepared for unexpected vacancies, you can maintain high service standards and keep your operations running smoothly.