Parting Shot: Hotels cresting the pay wave


Last December, we revealed that The Rees Hotel was lifting its minimum wage to $20 an hour in a possible first for the Queenstown hotel industry.

This week, we report that the smaller Mi-pad hotel is paying all its staff, at minimum, the ‘living wage’ of $20.55 an hour.

It’s good news that these hotels, and I don’t doubt a few more, realise that to keep and retain good-quality staff, they need to pay well.

It should also serve as a wake-up call for other employers who might be concerned their bottom-lines might suffer – or their ability to buy that holiday apartment on the Gold Coast – if they paid their staff more.

But that’s a short-sighted view.

As The Rees hotelier Mark Rose told Mountain Scene, by paying well he’ll reduce the huge cost of constantly recruiting and training staff.

And surely employers benefit from having happy staff who’ll deliver good service as a result of being paid well and not having to worry about making ends meet.

In the past, I suspect too many local employers have gotten away with paying their staff as little as legally possible, or less, on the pretext that there’ll always be migrant workers available to fill the job for diddly-squat.

That includes, I’m sure, not paying them holiday pay.

But if we get more employers like The Rees and Mi-pad, you’ll find those rogue employers will struggle to find staff.

Two weeks ago, we quoted New Zealand ‘innovator of the year’ Ian Taylor as saying nearly all tourism jobs are low-paying.

He said: “If we’re to think about the future for our young people, if tourism’s to play a role in that, then we have to have high-value tourism so we create high-value jobs.”

Rose echoed that, saying that paying staff more could even encourage Kiwi workers who’d normally shun Queenstown due to our high living costs.

At least the bar is being raised at a national level, with the minimum wage lifting this month to $17.70 an hour.

But in this high-cost resort, surely employers should be looking to pay their staff more than the bare minimum.

Or, if they don’t want to do that, how about helping their staff cope with the often-crippling cost of accommodation?