The coronavirus pandemic has taken a huge toll on the global economy. The worst impact, however, is faced by aviation, hospitality and tourism industries - all of which work in tandem. With restrictions on travel everywhere, hotel bookings have hit rock bottom. And with the current scenario where only essential services are being allowed, a cloud of dark times is storming over the once-lucrative hospitality sector.

Job cuts and salary reductions are a common sight these days. Even major corporations are laying off employees in these challenging times. One of the most renowned hotel chains, Hyatt announced that it would furlough 1,300 of its employees globally and by the looks of it, other major chains are likely to follow suit.

According to Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH), around 70 per cent out of a total estimated workforce of 5.5 crore (direct and indirect) could get unemployed (around 3.8 crore). Many experts have already expressed their views on the coronavirus pandemic being the most challenging crisis the world has faced since the second world war and worse than post-9/11 attacks. As alarming as this sounds, this is just an analysis from an industry standpoint. What's happening at the ground level is far more concerning.


How the crisis unfolded?

When we think of empty hotels due to lockdown, 5-star hotels running on losses and reporting a historic dip in revenue, the job cuts and salary dips for employees seem natural. But the bigger question is whether the move is fully justified by major hotel chains running on a global landscape.

Since February, the hospitality sector started feeling the brunt of coronavirus pandemic. Cancellations of bookings started turning losses for hotels and by March, most hotel chains, even the most star-rated ones, started operating at a loss. Starting April, pay cuts at managerial posts started and soon the pay cuts were passed on to lower levels of employees. But that didn't cut it.

In a bid to steer through the coronavirus pandemic, hotel chains, including the world's largest hotel company, Marriott International, and other hotel owners like Hilton Worldwide Holdings and Hyatt Hotels started furloughing thousands of workers.

Plight of employees in hospitality sector

These mass layoffs in the hospitality sector widely affect the sales, F&B/culinary operations. This is a disturbing trend as employees at the base level, who contributed towards the profits made by major hotel owners, are being the first ones to be let go at the sight of an oncoming economic crisis.

Le Meridien hotel staff sanitise guest rooms and hotel compounds after Delhi government has arranged hotel rooms to quarantine stranded Indian nationals in abroad, due to the coronavirus lockdown in New Delhi on May 8, 2020. (Photo: Bidesh Manna/IANS)
Representational imageIANS

Even after hundreds and thousands losing their jobs, millions more hanging in the balance. Some shocking revelations from the hospitality industry show the dark side of things and how badly the employees suffer at the hands of hotel owners, who enjoyed profits from lucrative businesses for almost a decade.

On one hand, the philanthropy work done by some major hotel chains is put under the spotlight when the employees of that very company is being laid off or offered non-paid leave or given massive pay cuts. There's silent resistance within the hospitality sector, which is on the verge of exploding into a chaotic movement. Can major hotel chains, providing jobs to hundreds and thousands around the world, offer some level of job security in these testing times. If not, it sets a misguided precedent for others to follow.