2009 Tourism HR Forum Highlights

Delegates leave the 8th annual forum ready to embrace change and face the future

(Ottawa, ON – December 1, 2009) Delegates from across Canada and abroad gathered at the Delta Centre-Ville in Montreal last week for the 8th annual Tourism HR Forum. The opening reception featured very entertaining welcoming remarks from Charles Lapointe, President and Chief Executive Officer, Tourisme Montréal and Adele Girard, Directrice Générale, Le Conseil québécois des ressources humaines en tourisme (CQRHT). Delegates were entertained by a stellar jazz trio as they celebrated the beginning of this year’s forum. This year’s event saw the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council (CTHRC) merge its annual event with the highly successful event held each year by CQRHT.

The Forum officially kicked off the next morning, with CTHRC Board Chairs Graeme Barrit (President, Coast Hotels & Resorts) and Jean Lortie (President, Fédération du commerce inc.) serving as masters of ceremony for the second consecutive year. Québec Minister of Tourism Nicole Ménard welcomed the delegates to Quebec before Jim Frank, former chief economist with the Conference Board of Canada, gave a brief presentation stressing the need to look beyond the current economic downturn, and to recognize that labour shortages will re-emerge as the economy recovers. Mr. Frank noted the usefulness of CTHRC research publications in reaching these conclusions. Next up was opening keynote presenter Dr. Rick Johnson who used the emerit catchphrase “there is profit in people” to illustrate the growing importance of training in difficult economic times. He stressed that treating training as an investment and fixing HR practices now will ultimately generate higher profits for organizations as the economy recovers.

The Plenary Panel “In Conversation With..” was an informal session in a talk show format, featuring leaders of National and Provincial tourism groups. During the session, Wendy Swedlove, President of the CTHRC, remarked on the progress made in gaining recognition of HR issues over the past few years. Through the hard work of industry organizations, these issues have gained visibility to the point that the Federal Government now lists HR as a core pillar for its Tourism strategy. Randy Williams, President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, suggested that businesses need to invest more in their employees, and called for more national certification in the industry as a whole. He noted that instead of “Public Relations”, employers should focus more on “Personnel Relations” as we move toward projected shortages in the labour pool.

In the popular session “How To Keep Your Best Employees”, Alain Samson expanded on the idea of managing employee relations. He suggested that businesses treat workers as they would treat a client, both as a means of building loyalty and as a strategy for retention. Delegates also enjoyed the session “Importance of Training: Engaging Employees During Change”, which focused on HR best practices of successful companies. A highlight was Mark Reynolds, Vice President of Human Resources for Canlan Ice Sports Corp., explaining how programs like the Council’s Employer of Choice program can provide the feedback necessary to recognize problem areas in HR, and the tools to effect company wide change to address the issues.

The Forum closed with a dose of energy from Bryan Dodge, who provided strategies for leadership, professional development, and personal growth. Delegates left armed with progressive ideas and effective tools to deal with change, and to address their present and future HR issues. All delegates were invited to participate in the 9th Annual HR Forum November 15-17 2010 in Alberta.