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Good News from the AHLAF and Lightcast

Good News from the AHLAF and Lightcast

by David Klemt

Black and white photo of hotel sign hanging vertically on hotel exterior

A new report from Lightcast, in collaboration with the AHLAF, reveals positive news about the strength of the hotel and lodging industry.

To clarify for those new to or outside of the hotel industry, the AHLAF stands for the American Hotel and Lodging Association Foundation. Drilling down, the Foundation is the charitable branch of the AHLA.

Representing the entirety of the hotel and lodging industry in the USA, the AHLA is the largest association in the business. Through advocacy, industry resources and reports, and other initiatives, the AHLA supports B&Bs to major hotel groups.

Their charitable arm, the AHLAF, “aim[s] to support the recruitment, retention and advancement of employees throughout the industry.” The branch seeks to accomplish this goal through career development, education, scholarships, and empowerment.

In an effort to better understand the state of the hotel industry, the AHLAF commissioned Lightcast for a report. Projections from the global leader in labor market analytics show the industry in a positive light.

The full report can be accessed via a link in the press release below. However, I’ll share Lightcast’s top finding: Demand for jobs in the hotel industry should be, according to the analytics firm, in serious demand.

In fact, Lightcast finds that demand for hotel jobs will be up to 50 percent higher than the national average over the next five years. This is excellent news for the hotel industry, hotel operators, and anyone seeking a career in the hotel space.

Report: Hospitality Careers Are in Demand, Outpacing National Projected Growth

Over the next five years, demand for hotel industry jobs projected to be 50% higher than national average 

WASHINGTON (March 11, 2024) – Recent research commissioned by AHLA Foundation, the charitable arm of the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), projects robust demand for hotel industry jobs over the next five years, outpacing overall market job growth. 

The AHLA Foundation asked Lightcast, a leading labor market analytic firm, for data on demographic and growth trends that would help identify and map career pathways in the hotel and lodging industry. In addition to a report, the result of the research is a dynamic, interactive dashboard that allows job seekers to explore and compare roles, requirements, and compensation across a range of hospitality careers. 

The hotel industry currently employs 1.8 million workers in the United States. The AHLA Foundation report projects job growth of 12% in the hotel industry over the next five years, compared to 8.0% for the nation overall. A large share of this demand is at the entry level or in roles that don’t require college degrees, validating the hotel industry’s potential as an engine for mobility. The full report is available at

“It’s an attractive time to enter the hotel industry,” said Anna Blue, President of AHLA Foundation. “A key part of our work at AHLA Foundation is supporting the recruitment, retention, and advancement of people in our industry. Understanding the entry points where careers begin, where they lead, and what paths they take is a critical step to helping find their home in hospitality.” 

Lightcast used its real-time, proprietary databases and industry parsing to create the interactive dashboard for understanding career pathways in the hotel and lodging industry from 2010 – 2023. The interactive dashboard is available here.  

About The AHLA Foundation 

The AHLA Foundation, the charitable arm of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, works to support the hotel and lodging industry’s greatest asset – our people. By connecting employees, employers, and their communities, we seek to continuously nurture a culture of professional growth and belonging. When the people who work in our industry thrive, the industry thrives along with them. The Foundation is funded by grants and charitable contributions from generous individuals and organizations who want to support individuals seeking opportunities to thrive in the hotel and lodging industry. Learn more at 

Image: Roman Ska on Pexels

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Best and Worst Cities for Servers

Service Wins and Woes: Best and Worst Cities for Servers

by David Klemt

Aerial photograph of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at night

A recent survey from gaming industry site Casinos.US identifies the 25 best and two-dozen worst cities for servers in America.

I can share two details about the methodology that Casinos.US employed.

One, they surveyed 2,000 current and former hospitality professionals. And two, they were asked to rate the overall rudeness of their guests on a scale of one to ten. One is the kindest, ten is the rudest.

Further, I can share that the average rudeness of guests being served in the US is 4.9 out of ten. Unfortunately, the three worst cities on the Casinos.US list rank between 7.0 and 7.6 on the rudeness scale. In fact, 22 of the 24 worst cities come in at 5.0 or above.

No city is perfect. The best of the best earns a score of 2.0, with the next best hitting a 3.0. Still, not bad at all.

Sadly, 45 percent of respondents reported finding themselves interacting with rude guests at least twice per day. As far as the worst of the worst, respondents identified “older adults” as the rudest, and Sunday as the day of the week with the most incidents. Do with that information as you will.

There are two sides to the coin, of course. Impressively, 24 percent of respondents “rarely” encounter rudeness from guests. Even better, 28 percent don’t expect to come across rude guests on a daily basis at work. So, there’s some hope out there.

To review the results of this survey for yourself, click here.

The Worst

Alright, let’s get it out of the way. Below, the worst cities in America for servers, according to

To the right, their rudeness score. Again, the score is out of ten, with ten being the absolute worst.

  1. Washington, DC (4.9)
  2. Orlando, Florida (4.9)
  3. San Antonio, Texas (5.0)
  4. Sacramento, California (5.0)
  5. Columbus, Ohio (5.0)
  6. Buffalo, New York (5.0)
  7. Houston, Texas (5.1)
  8. St. Louis, Missouri (5.1)
  9. Atlanta, Georgia (5.1)
  10. Louisville, Kentucky (5.3)
  11. Miami, Florida (5.3)
  12. Nashville, Tennessee (5.4)
  13. New York, New York (5.4)
  14. Phoenix, Arizona (5.6)
  15. Detroit, Michigan (5.7)
  16. San Diego, California (5.8)
  17. Las Vegas, Nevada (5.8)
  18. New Orleans, Louisiana (5.8)
  19. Milwaukee, Wisconsin (6.0)
  20. Providence, Rhode Island (6.3)
  21. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (6.3)
  22. Jacksonville, Florida (7.0)
  23. Cincinnati, Ohio (7.0)
  24. Virginia Beach, Virginia (7.6)

This list, if accurate, leaves me with one question: What’s going on, Virginia Beach? Sheesh. Calm down—your side of ranch isn’t that important, I promise.

It’s tempting to label this a tourist issue. Well over 10 million people—nearly 20 million in 2019—visit Virginia Beach annually.

And, hey, look at the rest of the list; it’s loaded with destination cities that draw millions upon millions of tourists each year.

However, when you look at the list of the best cities for servers below you’ll find more destination cities.

The Best

Now that we know the worst, let’s check out the best.

The cities below rank the lowest as far as rude behavior from guests.

  1. Dallas, Texas (4.8)
  2. Minneapolis, Minnesota (4.8)
  3. Boston, Massachusetts (4.8)
  4. Birmingham, Alabama (4.8)
  5. Salt Lake City, Utah (4.8)
  6. Los Angeles, California (4.7)
  7. San Francisco, California (4.7)
  8. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (4.7)
  9. Raleigh, North Carolina (4.6)
  10. Riverside, California (4.5)
  11. Kansas City, Missouri (4.5)
  12. Seattle, Washington (4.5)
  13. Charlotte, North Carolina (4.4)
  14. Richmond, Virginia (4.3)
  15. Cleveland, Ohio (4.3)
  16. Indianapolis, Indiana (4.2)
  17. Chicago, Illinois (4.1)
  18. Denver, Colorado (4.1)
  19. Portland, Oregon (4.0)
  20. Tampa, Florida (3.8)
  21. Hartford, Connecticut (3.8)
  22. Austin, Texas (3.8)
  23. Baltimore, Maryland (3.7)
  24. Memphis, Tennessee (3.0)
  25. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (2.0)

Philly may be the City of Brotherly Love but the Steel City, Pittsburgh, is the best for servers in terms of guest behavior. At least, according to Casinos.US.

If you live in one of the cities above, go out to bars and restaurants, and aren’t a jerk to your servers, congratulations on being a decent person.


Let’s say you’re an owner, operator, or leadership team member. And let’s say you operate or work in one of the cities above, whether the best or worst.

If your service team routinely on edge, regularly upset, find out why. Leaders look out for their teams and strive to provide a healthy work environment.

I’m not saying you need to get into the details of their personal lives. What I am saying is that if there are issues in the workplace, you need to get to the bottom of them. More importantly, you then need to engage the team and get their feedback.

How do they want guest issues handled by the leadership team? Are their problematic regulars who need to be “fired” to protect the team? Some guests simply aren’t worth the revenue and tips in exchange for the emotional and mental distress they’re inflicting on the team.

That is, however, something that must be discussed. Most importantly, when the feedback is taken into account and a procedure is put in place, leadership must adhere to it and act accordingly. Any deviation will result in a loss of trust, and that will decimate team morale even more quickly than an encounter with a rude guest.

Lose trust from your team, lose the business.

Image: Venti Views on Unsplash

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Program for Unique Holidays: November 2023

Program for Unique Holidays: November 2023

by David Klemt

"Think about things differently" neon sign

Do you want to stand out from from other restaurants and bars in your area? Change how you think about your November holiday promotions.

Several holidays are set against every date on the calendar, and this month is no exception. These holidays range from mainstream to esoteric.

Pay attention to the “weird” or unique holidays to raise eyebrows, carve out a niche for your restaurant or bar, and attract more guests. Why do what everyone else is already doing? Why program only around the same holidays as everyone else?

Of course, you shouldn’t try to celebrate every holiday, strange or otherwise. Focus on the days that are authentic to your brand; resonate with your guests; and help you grab attention on social media.

You’ll find suggestions for promotions below. However, the idea behind our monthly holiday promotions roundup is to inspire you and your team to get creative and come up with unique programming ideas.

For our October 2023 holidays list, click here.

November 3: National Jersey Day

This is an easy one. MLB, the NBA, NHL, NFL, NCAA Football… All of these and more are in regular season play at the moment.

Establish your bar as the place to watch and play fantasy sports to develop a loyal guest base. One way to really get your guests engaged is to get them to wear their jerseys, and this holiday is the “official” day for them to do so.

November 5: Zero Tasking Day

Sure, multi-tasking and the people who claim to have mastery over it are impressive. But you know what’s even more impressive? Taking the time to nothing but relax.

You know what’s an excellent place to check out, relax, and indulge? Your restaurant, bar, or nightclub.

November 6: National Nacho Day

No, nachos aren’t the world’s most unique food. However, your approach and presentation can certainly help you stand out from other operators.

Go highest. Go largest. Go most unusual ingredients. Go most premium toppings. Just go wild.

November 11: National Metal Day

Anyone who knows me knows that metal holds a special place in my life. In fact, I recently hit the Pearl Theater inside the Palms for the Dethklok + BABY METAL “BABYKLOK” tour stop in Las Vegas.

This is the day for you to encourage the metalheads among your guests to show up to your bar or restaurant. Create an LTO featuring metal spirit brands, like Slipknot Iowa Whiskey and Metallica’s Blackened Whiskey.

November 14: National Pickle Day

If your kitchen can pickle it, this is the holiday to have them create an LTO menu showing off their skills.

November 16: National Use Less Stuff Day

Sustainability and ethical business practices aren’t just trendy anymore. Many of today’s guests want to know they’re supporting businesses that have a plan to address waste.

If you’ve been developing a sustainability plan, this is the day to launch it. Look at your operations, look at your menu, and see where you can make small but impactful changes.

November 20: National Absurdity Day

Do you have an “absurd” idea for a promotion, menu item, design feature, or branding exercise? Tighten up that idea and execute it on National Absurdity Day.

You can also check out one of our KRG Concepts, Absurd! Kitchen Co., for a turn-key restaurant concept.

November 22: DrinksGiving

As operators know, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving has traditionally been the busiest bar night of the year. Whether you call it Thanksgiving Eve or DrinksGiving, this is your opportunity to pull out all the stops.

November 25: National Small Business Day

This is the perfect holiday to highlight all the small, craft, and independent F&B brands you work with at your restaurant or bar. Feature local artisans, spirits and beer producers, farmers, and more on your menu to help them and you generate more business.

November 30: National Mason Jar Day

I don’t know what it is but drinking from a mason jar, whether there’s a delicious cocktail, moonshine, or a soft drink inside it, is just a cool experience.

Of course, you can also get creative with starter, side, and dessert presentations inside mason jars.

Image: Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels

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What Does the Future Hold for iGaming?

What Does the Future Hold for iGaming?

by David Klemt

A laptop next to a roulette wheel, surrounded by poker chips, dice, and playing cards

Like this, but in your pocket, basically.

With so many states legalizing sports betting, the next frontier appears to be Internet gaming or “iGaming.” So, why is it taking so long to move forward?

It seems like a no-brainer, right? Consumers are carrying the internet around with them in their pockets and on wearables. If it’s good business to meet consumers where they are, giving them the ability to place bets online makes sense.

Further, commercial gaming is worth about $60 billion in the US alone. And depending on the source and how we define the term, around 60 percent of adults in America gamble at least once per year. That number climbs to perhaps as high as 85 percent for adult Americans who gamble at least once in their lifetime.

So, those are all impressive numbers. Tens of billions of dollars, hundreds of millions of potential bettors… Intriguingly, tens of millions of Americans plan to bet on the current NFL season.

Per a 2023 Global Gaming Expo panel, iGaming generates nearly $6 billion in revenue annually. Panelists posit this form of gaming will generate $30 billion if and when casinos embrace it.

Incredibly, iGaming, in the handful of states where it’s legal, is generating similar revenue to traditional gaming. This is notable because it hasn’t taken decades to achieve.

Then, there’s sports betting. If sports betting is now legal in dozens of states throughout the country, why isn’t iGaming legal in most of the country as well? Interestingly, the answer to that question ties into sports betting.

iGaming and the current evolution of sports betting are two topics I’m just starting to really dive into. So, I’ll do my best to share what I’m learning accurately and with actionable information.

Slow Progress?

On May 14, 2018, the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992. With PASPA gone, sports betting is legal in more than 30 states and Washington, DC.

Additionally, legislation to legalize sports betting has been introduced in more states. So, we can expect this form of betting to gain traction in more of the country.

Ironically, it’s the explosion in sports betting over the past five years contributing to the slow progress of iGaming.

Simply put, according to Howard Glaser of Light & Wonder, is that dozens of states just agreed to legalize sports betting. During the G2E panel he moderated, Glaser explained that it’s not a wise idea to now approach the same governing bodies and say, “Hey, we forgot to add iGaming when we asked you to legalize sports betting. Can you throw that in now?”

Another item to consider is the fear of casinos in cannibalizing their existing business. Other factors are responsible gaming (who’s keeping tabs on a bettor’s behavior if they’re behind a screen?) and the illegal or “invisible” iGaming market.

So, for now at least, iGaming is legal in just eight states: Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia. However, Nevada isn’t even in the regulatory stage yet, and Rhode Island won’t launch iGaming until some time in 2024.

According to Anika Howard, the president and CEO of WONDR Nation and a guest on Glaser’s G2E panel, Connecticut is further developing iGaming regulations.

Now What?

For now, we wait and watch. Connecticut and New Jersey appear to be leading the way for iGaming in the US. However, the G2E panel notes that the US is far behind the UK when it comes to iGaming.

In fact, Howard says that when it comes to this category, the US is learning from the UK and how they approach it.

Further, the panel appears to agree that many people in the industry have their eyes on Nevada. There’s a belief that industry professionals in Nevada are taking their time so that when they launch iGaming it will be of great benefit to the state of Nevada’s overall gaming industry rather than a threat.

In other words, when Nevada goes live with iGaming, the state will likely be the country’s leader. That is, of course, speculation. After all, New Jersey legalized online casinos back in 2013.

However, the legislation that made online casinos legal in the state expires in November. I would expect there’s already a plan in place, and New Jersey may remain as the iGaming leader for some time.

For now, operators who want in on the iGaming action can plan ahead. One way to do this is to secure their iGaming domain (or domains) so that when it goes legal, they’re prepared.

It’s logical to expect more iGaming dominos to begin to fall in 2024, and for even more to topple in 2025. Are you ready?

Image: Aidan Howe on Unsplash

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