10th Annual Tourism & Hospitality HR Forum Had People Dancing and Singing…Literally

Over a year ago, the great folks at the Tourism Industry Association of Prince Edward Island (TIAPEI) guaranteed the organizers of the HR Forum (the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council) perfect weather and unsurpassed hospitality, and they delivered on both in spades. Under beautiful blue skies and mild weather, 140 delegates came together to hear innovative new approaches to HR, inspiring stories of challenges overcome, and an agenda packed with HR takeaways for their own operations.

This year’s Forum kicked off with a reception at the Rodd Charlottetown, where delegates were welcomed by Don Cudmore, Executive Director of TIAPEI, and HR Forum Master of Ceremonies Dean Sockett, Director of Human Resources, Keg Restaurants Ltd. Turnout was great and delegates were excited for the first day of content.

Day one opened with welcoming remarks from Robert Henderson, Minister of Tourism and Culture. The Minister’s welcome set the stage for the remainder of the event, with his professional yet folksy approach that included a Monty Python reference and an acknowledgement that in tourism, your people are what will bring visitors back time after time.

In his first year as HR Forum M.C., Dean Sockett (The Keg) did a masterful job throughout the event, weaving content from the various sessions and keynote presentations into his remarks and coupling these with a relaxed and cheerful delivery. The theme of this year’s event “Raising the Bar in HR” proved to be apt, with everyone making reference to the fact that one of the best ways for a business to thrive in these economically turbulent times is to have a well-trained, engaged and dedicated staff serving clients who have innumerable options when making holiday plans.

While the quality content and great networking opportunities had delegates engaged and excited, the social event, aptly titled “Fire in the Kitchen”, seriously raised the bar for social events and hospitality. In the spirit of a traditional kitchen ceileidh, some extremely gifted local musicians delighted the crowd with Celtic music and the songs of Island legend Stompin’ Tom Connors. In addition to delicious food and lively discussion about the sessions that had taken place that day, delegates and presenters were invited on stage to sing and play with the band. This event truly left a lasting impression and will be a fine reminder of P.E.I. and the HR Forum.

Delegate feedback was extremely positive, with all speakers and breakout sessions receiving high praise for both content and delivery. While there were plenty of highlights, the opening keynote by José Tolovi Neto, “A Great Workplace: How to Build it, Keep it and Why it Matters”, and the closing session by Randy Taylor, “The Winner Within – Life Before Can’t”, were inspirational, with messages about the importance of trust in the workplace and the benefits of not letting previous failures get in your way of moving forward.  Glenn Squires, President and CEO of Pacrim Hospitality Services Inc., had the audience listening intently to his thoughts on planning for tomorrow’s HR challenges, the growth of new tourism markets like Brazil, China and India, and the real possibility of a talent drain of quality tourism professionals from Canada. His session marked the first time these concepts were explored at the HR Forum, and opened many people’s eyes to these emerging challenges.

There were breakout sessions to appeal to all delegates, featuring topics ranging from social media and organizational change to employee compensation and partnerships between education and industry. PowerPoint presentations from all of these sessions are available online: http://cthrc.ca/en/tourism_hr_forum/HR_Forum_2011/presentations.

For photos of the 2011 Tourism and Hospitality HR Forum, please visit our Facebook album.