Across all industries, not just tourism and visitor attractions, the US currently has a deficit of 4 million workers.
Any business related to travel and tourism, including visitor attractions, have been hit hard.
Staff are overworked in order to address the shortages, which can cause burnout employees to quit.
In this post, we dive into the current state, when it will improve, and what museums and other attractions can do to address it.
The state of staff shortages in the visitor attraction industry
In 2020, 62 million tourism-related jobs were lost globally due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This includes losses for museums and other visitor attractions. In the United States, there was a 33% drop in jobs. The world has opened back up again, and both local and international tourists are driving a resurgence for the visitor attraction industry.
However, the demand for workers is outpaced by supply. In the US, 480,000 tourism-related jobs are predicted to go unfilled in 2022. This equates to 8% of these jobs, meaning that 1 in every 13 positions will not be filled.
The situation is made worse by a massive rise in the cost of living since lockdowns were lifted. Higher costs of living are associated with worker strikes and with local workers abandoning increasingly costly tourist towns, leaving massive labor shortages behind.
To entice workers, employers have been raising wages, which in turn increases inflation.
When staff shortages are predicted to improve
So when will this situation improve?
Although we’re still not back to 2019 levels—where demand for workers was nearly equal to supply—things are starting to look up.
While in 2022, we’re seeing 8% tourism-related job shortages (1 in 13 positions unfulfilled), the 2021 rates were even worse, when 11% of jobs went unfilled (1 in 9).
And even more promising, the leisure and hospitality industry has had the highest hiring rate since November of 2020, an 8.1% hiring rate (new hires proportionate to total staff) compared to the 4.4% average for all industries combined.
However, the improvements are certainly not even distributed around the nation, much less around the globe. If you live in an area with sky-high living costs, you might be hard-pressed to find staff at wages your organization can afford.
Digital solutions that can ease the burden
Of course, many staff shortages in museums and visitor attractions cannot be resolved with technology, but there certainly are digital technologies and SaaS platforms that can make a big difference.
It’s important to lighten the workload for the staff you do have, so that they don’t burn out from wearing too many hats.
Here are a few digital solutions that can have a big impact.
1. Mobile tour guides on visitors’ devices
You can create a GPS-triggered audio tour that takes visitors through your gallery, park, or other attraction.
This can be offered in place of in-person group tours or as an additional option for when the group tours are fully booked or for people who would rather go at their own pace.
An audio tour app works on the visitors’ own mobile devices, so that they don’t need to rent communal equipment—a major plus since everyone is more germ conscious these days.
You can use geo-location technology so that content auto plays as visitors walk through the site. And visitors can simply hit next to explore the next item.
With STQRY, you can launch your own branded app in the iOS and Android app stores, or for a faster and more affordable solution, you can publish your app content within STQRY’s app. And, your app will work in mobile web, so that visitors can open it in a web browser, without having to download anything.
Regardless of the formats you choose, using STQRY is far more affordable than building an app from scratch, and there’s no coding required. All you have to do is arrange your tours and add your content, including text, audio, video, and images.
2. Multimedia tour content on your organization’s own devices
You may want to offer tour guide content on your organization’s devices, such as a few tablets that can be rented out or mounted on the wall.
This is a great option if you want to improve accessibility with multi-language content, audio, and text without cluttering your physical displays.
This is also useful if a portion of your visitors don’t have their own mobile devices due to their age or any other reason.
By offering devices rich with content, you can lower the amount of questions that your overworked staff will have to answer.
Learn more about how to create tour guide apps on your organization’s devices with STQRY.
3. Digital kiosks
You can also create digital content/experiences that can be displayed on interactive kiosk tablets or smart TVs. This is different from a tour guide app, because while the content is organized, it’s not placed into a specific route.
By providing detailed information and multimedia content for your collections, you can reduce visitor questions and improve the overall visitor experience by offering an independent learning option.
4. Digital ticketing
You might also be able to save staff time by using a ticketing solution like Tessitura Network, Oxynade, or Tix. These platforms can allow you to create regular entry, timed entry, and special event tickets faster, accept online and in-person payments, and quickly scan these tickets at the gate.
If you’re still using manual processes for creating and accepting tickets, a more modern solution could have a big impact on staff time.
Check out our hand-picked list of the best museum software for more tools that can help reduce your workload.
How to develop a strategy for dealing with staff shortages
Labor shortages continue to be a major struggle for many museums, historical sites, and other attractions.
Fortunately there are things you can do. Try this approach:
- Talk with your staff about how shortages are impacting them
- Listen to visitor feedback via reviews and surveys
- Determine which roles and solutions you need the most
- Prioritize hiring for those roles
- Implement digital solutions that will have a positive impact on visitors and staff