The travel industry has lost more than 7.7 million jobs. Over 47 percent of hospitality professionals are out of work. The travel industry remains hopeful for a vaccinated future over the horizon but is grounded in the reality of furloughs and layoffs. American Airlines, for instance, recently announced that a new round of furloughs are possible, according to reports in Business Insider.
Faced with this crisis, travel professionals Melisssa DelBuono and Kingsley Egbuchunam, formerly in hotel sales and marketing positions, founded Project Save Hospitality, a networking support group whose goal it is to foster professional development, which includes resume-writing assistance, job coaching, and the execution of a virtual career fair, in conjunction with Brazen, an event hosting company.
The pair were joined by Danny Harpaz, who signed on as director of marketing after he was furloughed from his position in public relations and marketing.
“When the layoffs started happening last year, Kingsley and I knew it was going to be fight or flight, so we decided to fight,” says DelBuono.
“I was building hotels when the pandemic hit,” she remembers. “The construction got frozen. I was working in a huge, open We Work office. That same day we had a case and we had to quarantine. People started getting laid off. All our sales coordinators were gone. Then I got the call that I was being furloughed. I watched my hospitality family fall apart. I knew I had to do something to help myself and that family. I thought, ‘We survived 9/11 and we’re going to survive this.’”
Egbuchunam was furloughed in March 2020. “The impact was very rapid,” he says. “You know it is going to happen, you must get prepared. But nothing prepared us for the tsunami that occurred. My entire team was furloughed,” he adds.
Both Egbuhunam and DelBuono understand that although hospitality is where their hearts are, other industries may offer opportunities before their chosen profession opens back up.
“It’s a drastically new world,” says Egbuchunam.
More job fairs may follow.
Businesses like Capital One, have already signed on, eager to find new talent from the hospitality pool.
DelBuono says, “We are people-connected people. It’s the very nature of what we do that attracts employers. There is no more ‘service’ industry than hospitality and the lessons we’ve learned there are applicable across the board in many other industries and businesses.”
Along with Capital One, other businesses that added their opportunities to the fair include Reef Technologies Charles Schwab and Hillstone Restaurants.