March 2010 Issue

Tourism HR Forum Explores Best Practices for a Successful Future

Delegates of the eighth annual Tourism HR Forum are now ready to embrace change and look beyond the economic slowdown. Themed “On Your Mark! Get Set! Change!”, the national event attracted 250 tourism professionals, corporate trainers, association representatives, educators, and students to Montreal’s Delta Centre-Ville in late November. With the economy weighing on many minds, participants were eager to explore strategies for weathering the present while also preparing to capitalize on the slowly emerging recovery.

Presenters delivered just that, sharing their expertise and experiences related to tourism human resources. 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. He particularly noted that labour shortages would re-emerge as the economy recovers and cited the usefulness of CTHRC research publications. François Meunier, vice-president of public and governmental affairs of the Association des restaurateurs du Québec, observed that the current slowdown is the perfect opportunity to train staff. Mark Reynolds, vice president of human resources for Canlan Ice Sports Corp., explained how programs like the Council’s free of charge 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 these issues.

Highlighted throughout the event was HR’s importance to the success of the sector. Wendy Swedlove, CTHRC president, remarked that through the hard work of industry organizations, HR has gained visibility to the point that the federal government now lists it as a core pillar for its tourism strategy. Read More...

HR Award Winners Epitomize Quality Employers

This winter, two top employers received well-deserved accolades for their progressive human resource policies and practices. Niagara Falls’ Great Wolf Lodge and Edmonton’s Fantasyland Hotel each took home a CTHRC-sponsored award in recognition of the strides they have made in tourism HR.

Great Wolf Lodge took home the prize for Human Resource Development at the Tourism Industry Association of Canada’s Tourism Leadership Summit. The annual honour recognizes a business that has demonstrated a commitment to professionalism in the Canadian tourism workforce through recognition, training, and excellence in human resource management.
An award-winning property known for fun family experiences in its suites, waterparks, spa, and restaurants, Great Wolf Lodge is passionate about creating a great place to work. Its team focuses not only on recruitment and retention, but also on encouraging staff – called pack members – to grow and advance.
A variety of professional development opportunities allow pack members to further their skills, while multiple recognition programs ensure top performers know they are integral to the property’s success.  Read More...

Nova Scotia’s First Employee-Rated Employer of Choice: Cambridge Suites Hotel, Sydney

There is a compelling new reason to stay at the Cambridge Suites Hotel property in Sydney. 

The hotel already has an excellent reputation for offering a welcoming home base for guests in town for business and pleasure and it now lays claim to Nova Scotia’s first Employee-Rated Employer of Choice (EOC) designation.

“Our employees are our most important asset and we are very excited to receive the EOC designation,” says Cathy Burt, Human Resources Manager, Cambridge Suites Hotels.

The EOC program is a free tool that allows employees to rate employers based on established standards in the workplace.  It provides tailored recommendations and resources to help employers achieve EOC status.  Created by human resource specialists, the program is designed to address the needs of businesses of all sizes and it has the flexibility to assess multiple business locations and individual departments.  The program contributes to shaping a skilled Canadian tourism workforce by encouraging employers to motivate and train talented staff.

Sharing the EOC philosophy, the hotel’s management strongly believes that professional development opportunities attract outstanding candidates and facilitate the retention of the very best staff. Read More...

New HR Trends and Concerns Revealed by Workplace Matters Panel 

Tourism business owners and human resource personnel from across the country weighed in on the impact of the economic downturn on the sector and the results are in. Their feedback provides useful benchmarks and insight into the effect of the downturn on revenue, recruitment, retention, and training.

As can be expected, many businesses found 2009 a difficult year. While 31% of those surveyed reported business conditions had remained roughly the same in their region, 33% felt they had weakened somewhat, and a further 27% said they had weakened greatly. Only 6% of businesses reported an improvement. The economic downturn was most acute for the accommodations industry, with 67% of properties reporting some degree of decline in business.

The poor business conditions translated to reduced revenue for many establishments. The majority (65%) saw a decrease, with over a quarter reporting they lost 10% or more of their revenue compared to 2008. Yet not all declined: 27% of respondents reported increased revenue and 9% felt revenue remained stable from 2008.

Decreased revenues have not, however, caused a corresponding decrease in staffing. While 31% of panellists reported somewhat decreased staffing for part-time positions, only 18% reduced full-time positions, while 27% reduced seasonal positions. Most operators maintained their staffing levels and did not foresee significant changes in early 2010: 79% felt hiring would remain static, while only 15% expected it to decrease. Read More...