SEEK Employment Trends: spotlight on the hospitality and tourism industry

With an increasing number of holidaymakers choosing Australia as a destination, the broader Hospitality and Tourism industry is looking up. The latest data from SEEK Employment Trends also shows an increase in job ads across the sector and experts say talent is in demand.

Australia’s Tourism 2020 growth target aims to reach $115 billion per year in overnight visitor expenditure by the end of the decade. This appears to be an achievable goal with the latest figures from Tourism Australia showing growth in visitor numbers. Close to 8 million visitors arrived in Australia in year ending August 2016, which is an increase of close to 11% relative to the previous year. Domestic tourism is also experiencing growth.

Deb Davis, Executive Director of Frontline Recruitment, says the increase in tourist numbers may be largely responsible for the rise in SEEK job ads across the Hospitality and Tourism Sector, which were up by 4% year-on-year in September and the average advertised salary was $60,455. Davis adds that industry growth may also be due to people spending more of their leisure time on hospitality experiences. “People's lifestyles are changing and they are spending more in the hospitality industry,” she says. “If you compare the past five years, there's been a definite lift.”

Demand across the industry

SEEK Job ads for wait staff increased by 4% year-on-year for the three months from July to September and Davis says demand for these roles is always a good gauge of overall industry performance. “Increases in job ads for wait staff are an indication of growth,” she explains. “Wait staff are the face of a café or restaurant and a key skill in demand is strong customer service,” she says.

Excellent food is also a key ingredient to the hospitality industry and Davis says chefs and cooks are in demand. SEEK job ads for chefs and cooks increased by 6% year-on-year for the three months from July to September and Davis notes the increasing demand is also being reflected in salaries. She adds that employers may need to work harder to attract the brightest talent. “Chef salaries have been on the rise,” she says. “We haven't seen attraction fees yet, which are offered as an extra incentive on top of salaries, but I think that if demand keeps going the way it is for good chefs, we certainly could see this being introduced as a way of securing the best talent”.

Andrew Morley, Director, Talent Resourcing – Australasia for Intercontinental Hotels Group, is also experiencing a growing demand for talented chefs. “One area of our business that is perhaps most under pressure is the recruitment of chefs,” he says. “As an organisation, we are looking to enhance our food and beverage experience even more than we have in recent years. This will continue to be an area of focus.”

The Intercontinental Hotels Group has 32 hotels across Australasia and employs approximately 5,000 people. Morley says there are plans to increase its teams in areas such as housekeeping and front office.

SEEK job ads also increased across these two areas. Job ads for front office and guest services roles rose by 6% year-on-year for the period of July to September. Meanwhile, job ads for housekeeping roles also grew over the same period by 4%. “I think all hotels are going through a time where there's been consistently high volumes of hotel occupancy, so we are going to see pressure in those areas,” explains Morley.

Impact of automation

Not all areas of the Hospitality and Tourism sector saw increases in job ads. Like many industries, it is experiencing the effects of automation, with more people going online to book their own flights and accommodation. SEEK job ads for reservations roles, for example, declined by 7% year-on-year for the three months from July to September and Morley attributes this to increasing automation.

Job ads for travel agents/consultants also experienced a decline of 13% over the same period. Davis says that although these roles have been impacted by the growth in online consumer bookings, this may be able to change. “Many consumers are sick of doing their own administration on the internet,” she says. “The pendulum is going to swing slightly the other way. We are starting to see travel agents advertising very low priced travel and packages. I think there's a real market there.”

Such changes may be on the horizon for the Hospitality and Tourism industry, however Morley says current job ad growth is a reflection of increased business activity within a competitive market. “We have a greater desire to ensure that our customers are getting the experience that they're looking for,” he explains. “All organisations are competing for a fairly small group of talented people, whether they be at senior level or even a very junior level.”