La Crosse area hotels, already short of workers, preparing for expected busy summer season

LA CROSSE AREA (WKBT) – Our hotels are still trying to make up for lost revenue in what was a tough year financially.

But La Crosse tourism leaders say hotel occupancy is actually slightly up, about two percent, compared to this time in 2019.

It’s hard for any hotel to stay busy when you don’t have enough people wanting to travel.

“We just want to get the travelers back here,” Lynn Zielke said, who is in corporate sales and guest services at Best Western Plus-La Crescent.

It’s even harder when the hotel you’re working in is still new.

“We’re actually about two years old this month,” Zielke said. “Our occupancy hasn’t been what we would’ve liked in the first year, year and a half.”

COVID is slowly ending its grip, which only means more people will get out of the house.

“I definitely hope we’re busy,” Zielke said. “You know, I mean that’s our goal.”

But there is one caveat.

“We are always looking for people willing to work,” Zielke said.

She says the number of staff at the hotel right now is adequate.

“We have what we need, but it’s always nice to have a back-up,” Zielke said.

Other La Crosse area hotels don’t have that luxury.

“Our tourism partners are doing everything they can to make sure that they give the quality and level of service that they need to give,” Explore La Crosse executive director A.J. Frels said.

Frels says now is a good time to send in an application.

“So the need for employees is great at this time to get people staffed up,” Frels said.

And it’s probably best our hotels start hiring fast and effectively.

“All indications show that over 90 percent of the population is ready to start travelling in the next six months,” Frels said. “People are anxious to get out and get going.”

A well-deserved treat to an industry that can’t survive without visitors.

“I’m excited about it,” Zielke said.

Zielke says that bookings at the hotel are also picking up because more and more people are rescheduling their weddings from last year to this summer.

Best Western Plus is connected to the La Crescent Area Events Center, a popular spot for wedding receptions.

Many hotels in our area have open positions on including front desk, housekeepers, servers and laundry attendants.