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The Mistake of the Travel Industry

I was advised by a close friend yesterday that no one would hire her because of her age, 68. Every place she applied rejected her for no specific reason but discretely told her “she is too old.” Knowing that work ethic and company dedication are not defined by age, with complete confidence, I called a close friend in Cabo, asking him to give her a chance. He, too, has explicit instructions from HR not to hire anyone over 50.

I’ve been in the Travel Industry for over 46 years and witnessed the good and bad of contracting personnel. Unfortunately, more times than not, nepotism and “ego-centric” subjective reasoning by management outweigh the objective reasoning that is for the good of the Hotel/Club. Even with a massive shortage of personnel in the Travel Industry, we continue to allow this unwritten policy of hiring only the young and rejecting the elderly with experience. “I want someone I can mold and train to my management style.” I chalk this statement up to an insecure manager not wanting to hire someone with more “hands-on” experience than themself. Or, in the worst case, I’ve witnessed Hotel Management’s oral instructions to contract good-looking young ladies and avoid anyone over 40 with a preference to hiring under 30. I will leave it to your interpretation, especially when two girls quit suddenly because of sexual harassment by hotel management.

But let’s return to the genuine mistake, especially in our current World of Employee Shortages. I understand the desire to display a youthful and energetic staff to your hotel guest or clients. A youthful smile and a warm “How can I help you?” is an excellent “first impression” for your guest’s vacation. But this same warm welcome can also come from someone in their 50s and 60s, but with the added assurance of far more know-how. In the service industry, the client’s experience is not determined by a smile and a sincere desire to help. It is the immediate response of the employee to the client’s needs and the results of the situation at hand. Who would you prefer handling a “problem,” a youthful smile passing the buck to management, further delaying the solution to the problem? Or an experienced person who can provide an immediate resolution allowing the guest to continue their vacation?

I provide consulting services to Hotels and Clubs that wish to improve their bottom line. Fortunately, my age of 69 going on 70, with 46 years as a Broker, Director, and Developer, are combined experiences in short supply in our industry. After reviewing each client’s overall operation, it is my job to give them recommended changes to their overall Hotel / Club Operation. Because of my friend’s rejection, I plan to add one more “strong recommendation” to every client I service. “Remove your age restrictions and judge each candidate on their experience and ability to help your organization and service your guests. Avoid any age limitations subjectively set by your Hotel Manager or Club Manager. In the end, striving for perfection is not determined by age or looks but by the positive experience provided to your guests.

Side Note: We are currently experiencing a significant problem in the Airline Industry; canceled flights, delays, and poor service. The core solution to this problem is the increase of the age limitation placed on flight attendants and, more critical, the age restriction applied to Pilots. Airlines did such a great job for their bottom line of driving early retirements during Covid that they are now caught with a significant shortage of personnel to satisfy the needs of the current Travel Boom. Perhaps they, too, should reconsider their forced retirement age limits and bring back the experienced personnel to fill the void they created.

Feel free to comment on this posting. I’m anxious to hear what your company’s policy is on contracting someone that is in their 50s and 60s, young at heart, and willing to work a full day. Hopefully, we can help my friend get a job in Cabo.

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