August 03, 2022

Roger Dow Wants to Fix Hotel Staffing Challenges

As he exits the U.S. Travel Association, the industry leader is bringing the gig-worker concept to hospitality.

It’s been a big week for Roger Dow, outgoing CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. At July’s end, he stepped down after 17 years of leadership, revealed his next venture and learned that he will be the 104th inductee to U.S. Travel’s Hall of Leaders.

"Roger’s leadership, unshakeable optimism and on-the-ground experience has had a lasting impact not only on our industry but also on those who have been lucky to work alongside him," read a farewell post from U.S. Travel on LinkedIn. But this is hardly goodbye. In fact, as Dow himself noted during his 2022 State of the Industry Address on Feb. 2, "I intend to spend the focus of my energy in the coming years on what I think is the industry's biggest challenge. And you'll be hearing more about that in the months ahead."

We heard more on Monday: Dow shared with Northstar sister brand Travel Weekly an overview of his plan to launch Future Work Solutions, an app-based service that aims to solve staffing issues for hospitality businesses.

Solving the Hospitality Worker Shortage

The problem is clear: Staffing shortages are plaguing our industry and will continue to do so, per a preliminary business statement from Future Work Solutions. Hospitality businesses can’t adequately service growing demand, so they’re losing revenue and disappointing customers. When it launches in Q4 this year, FWS will be a bit like Uber for hotel workers: an app-based platform that provides vetted workers with jobs on an as-needed basis.

Candidates will have the flexibility to establish their work hours, and can expect immediate pay, health-care options and travel perks, among other benefits. They’ll be fully vetted and will check in for work through the app, via an easy process that uses facial recognition and a QR code. For hospitality businesses, FWS automates and accelerates the hiring process. Organizations can choose to retain and promote the best workers who come through their doors. Thus, what starts as temp jobs for gig workers could lead to careers in hospitality.

A deeper goal is to broaden and diversify the hospitality workforce, while also supporting upward mobility. FWS will work with local officials, DMOs and venues to provide opportunities for underserved communities, veterans, people with disabilities, and the formerly incarcerated.

The Newest Member of U.S. Travel's Hall of Leaders

U.S. Travel announced on Friday that Dow will be the 2022 inductee in its Hall of Leaders, established in 1969 to recognize "sustained, noteworthy contributions that have positively impacted the travel industry."

Among an incredibly long list of achievements, Dow is credited with significantly building travel's profile in Washington, establishing Brand USA and the Meetings Mean Business coalition, and successfully lobbying to add more than a dozen nations to the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.

Prior to his appointment to U.S. Travel in 2005, Dow served for 34 years at Marriott International, where he led the company’s global sales and marketing functions, notably developing the first hotel loyalty program, which would become Marriott Bonvoy.

At U.S. Travel, Dow’s innovative and forward-thinking approach resulted in signature legislative victories, including securing pandemic-related federal relief and recovery funding for travel businesses and destination marketing organizations.

Dow will be honored by the U.S. Travel board of directors at a dinner on Nov. 14, 2022.

Copyright 2022 Northstar Travel Media LLC. All rights reserved. From By Loren G. Edelstein.

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