Hotels and resorts across Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean are grappling with some of the worst staffing shortages in recent years as the region’s popularity continues to soar among international travelers. The issue is especially prominent in popular resort destinations such as Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. Although resorts across the area have gone on a hiring spree to cope with record travel numbers, some visitors may encounter below-average service. In this article, we’ll review how staffing shortages might affect your next Cancun and Riviera Maya trip.
2022 was a record-breaking year for the tourism industry in the Mexican Caribbean, with over 30 million passengers traveling through Cancun International Airport alone. Even though 2023 is off to a fresh start, analysts have already stated that this year will be just as busy for international travel, if not more so, as the tropical region continues to grow in popularity.
While surging visitor numbers is much-welcomed news for hotels and resorts, the local hospitality industry is facing an acute lack of staff, potentially affecting its otherwise excellent customer service. While Cancun is home to over a hundred large resorts, the Riviera Maya – spanning some 80 miles in length – has over 55,000 hotel rooms. The area’s vast all-inclusive resorts rely on thousands of skilled employees to operate, and many properties are currently struggling to hire.
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According to Toni Chaves, the president of the Riviera Maya Hotel Association, properties in the sought-after resort destination are expected to face staffing shortages until the end of the year. He added that resorts in the area would need to hire, on average, 10% more employees – from skilled receptionists to cooks, housekeepers, and bellboys – to deliver the customer satisfaction levels that so many guests are after.
While travelers can still expect impeccable customer service during their next Mexican Caribbean tropical getaway, they might face a few related issues. On busy travel periods – such as Spring Break – guests might have to check in later than usual. The ongoing staffing crises may also translate to slower service, as limited staff members rush to complete room service orders and perform essential hotel duties.
Although the Mexican Caribbean is well-known for its industry-leading customer service, especially in its luxurious all-inclusive hotels and resorts, low salaries are pushing many employees to seek opportunities elsewhere. As a result, resorts may have to resort to less experienced workers to fill up the gaps.
Staffing issues first appeared as travel numbers started rapidly climbing following the removal of COVID-19 restrictions and are expected to persist throughout the year. Resorts are turning to out-of-the-box thinking to hire more employees by organizing hiring events and seeking workers from outside state and national borders.
Hotel occupancy rates in Cancun and the Riviera Maya are currently some of the highest in Mexico, reaching up to 80% in certain resort hotspots. Resorts in popular areas such as Cancun, Isla Mujeres, and Playa del Carmen are expected to have high occupancy rates until at least March.
With hotels and resorts running at full capacity in several popular locations, travelers are increasingly seeking new destinations to explore. In 2023, Puerto Morelos is expected to become one of the most popular seaside towns for travelers. Compared to heavyweights like Cancun, Puerto Morelos feels more laid-back while still offering countless resorts to choose from. Other seaside destinations – including Bacalar and Chetumal – are also high on travelers’ bucket lists this year.
More and more travelers are also opting for online vacation rentals, and the Mexican Caribbean is currently home to a record number of Airbnb rentals. Online rentals are a suitable choice for many travelers, offering great deals and flexibility, but visitors should be careful with rising rates of online fraud.
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