TAMPA, Fla. — At a time when tourism would normally be peaking, the hospitality industry finds itself severely short-handed.

What You Need To Know

  • The Hospitality Industry is still strugging from a staffing crisis due to the pandemic

  • USF's 16-week course will teach managers how to do more with less

  • The curriculum will benefit small businesses

  • Classes for the Hospitality Leadership Program begin in July and August

Businesses say that their ability to support the growing demand has been limited because of the staffing crisis. 

The University of South Florida is offering the Hospitality Leadership Program to help leaders hire and retain talent. The revamped 16-week course will teach managers how to do more with less. 

Mike Harting, the owner of 3 Daughters Brewing, is offering his expertise through the program. 

"At one point we laid off the entire staff," Harting said. 

Harting's business experienced the highs and lows the pandemic had to offer. 

"Two months later we were doing better than we had done in our history, so it was a rollercoaster," he added. 

He says the curriculum will benefit small businesses that are not yet big enough to have their own training programs. 

"In our business, most of this is learned through OJT [on the job training] but it's never been supplemented in the smaller unit level," he added.

Roger Curlin of the Pinellas Independent Hospitality forum says the region lost over 30,000 hospitality employees during the pandemic. A loss Curlin says the industry may never recover from. 

"What will be beholding to those locations that are operating now is to make everybody better that's at their location," said Curlin. 

USF Bishop Center for Ethical Leadership Director David O'Neill says that it all starts with effective leadership. 

"People work hard for people they trust," said O'Neill. "It's [the program] meant to help leaders understand the right practices and processes for attracting people and building a culture that will keep them motivated to work hard." 

Ultimately it's a team effort, according to Harting who says it's the positive experiences at several businesses that will engage customers and promote tourism. 

"The better our competition is, the better our partners are, the better we all are at building tourism in this state," said Harting. "The state of Florida exists on hospitality and tourism and what we need is for folks to come to Florida and have a great time and want to come back." 

Classes for the Hospitality Leadership Program will begin in July and in August.