NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — After years of being short staffed, people in the hospitality and leisure industry in Nashville said they are finally seeing and feeling some relief.

“We are fully staffed overall,” said Kristofer Carlson, general manager at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Nashville. “And we’re getting more applications for better positions than we ever did before the pandemic.”

In fact, Carlson said they are able to hire more people because of Nashville’s rising popularity and are able to fill those positions as well. He attributes his industry’s ability to attract and retain new talent to an increase in wages and more shift flexibility.

“The pandemic caused a great equalizer as far as the pay,” he said.

What has been even more encouraging to him is people who left the industry during the pandemic are coming back.

“I think hospitality has always been a hard working industry and people (in the industry) like to not only work with people, but like their days to move fast. It’ll be eight or 10 hour shift that goes and you start and next thing you know, it’s done,” he said.

It’s not just hotels in Nashville that are now fully staffed; the Greater Nashville Hospitality Association said it is happening across the hospitality and leisure sector, including restaurants.

“There’s a little bit of easing that a little there. There are more candidates. As we have progressed throughout the year, more candidates have been available to our businesses, better candidates,” said Lessa LeClaire with the Greater Nashville Hospitality Association.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Labor, there’s been a roughly 31% increase in hospitality and leisure workers in Middle Tennessee from 2020-2022.

(Source: BLS/WKRN)

However, Carlson is asking for customers across Music City to be clear with what they want from hospitality workers.

He said some may be new and eager to help, but haven’t been able to be fully trained, so a bit of patience may go a long way to giving everyone a great experience.