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The tourism industry in search of workers

The Quebec tourism industry is looking forward to the summer season with enthusiasm, given the return of international travellers. However, there is a lack of workers to accommodate them at several attractions across the province.

For the MTL Tyrolean, located in the Old Port, the presence of reliable employees in sufficient numbers is a matter of safety. “Employees ensure that customers are wearing the helmet and other equipment,” says general manager Lucas Martin. “Arrived at the last level, there is a complete reminder of the rules, and the employee attaches the customer”, he continues about one of the many stages which frame the activity during which the participants fly over the Bonsecours basin on a cable.

For the moment, the team of 50 needed to operate the zip line every day in the summer, often from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m., is still around fifteen people short of the team of 50. However, the company began its recruiting efforts in January and adopted new strategies. Mr. Martin did not want to relive last summer’s puzzle. Indeed, recruitment had been problematic, but so had staff retention.

“A lot of people wanted to go on vacation before the end of the summer. Other people were absorbing the hours so we could be open. Everyone ended up completely burned,” recalls Mr. Martin, who himself lent a hand in the field to make up for the lack of personnel.

Hoping to turn things around, Tyrolienne MTL will offer a bonus of $1 per hour this year for all hours worked, provided the employee is present until the end of the season. The company also tries to improve the feeling of belonging to the team through parties, draws, tokens of recognition such as “employee of the month”.

Struggling with a drop of approximately 50% in applications since 2019, Culture Trois-Rivières is also looking for about twenty employees to complete its team. Positions are available both in the animation of museums and the reception of shows as well as in maintenance and restoration, specifies the advisor in human resources Mélanie Langlois. However, the organization has stepped up recruitment efforts, participating in special events, organizing open houses and posting its offers in many places.

What will happen if there is still a shortage of employees during the high season? Many companies will adapt their services accordingly. Culture Trois-Rivières, for example, could change the opening hours of its terrace, encourage the use of online ticketing and reduce the number of guided tours in favor of audioguides.

In eastern Quebec, particularly in the Gaspé, the repercussions could be significant, judges the director general of Quebec maritime, Nathalie Blouin.

“Hotels are going to ask for minimum stays of two nights, to have less housekeeping to do. Restaurants will be forced to close two days a week,” she said.

Looking for solutions

At the end of 2021, around 40,000 positions were orphaned in this sector, recalls the Quebec Council for Human Resources in Tourism (CQRHT). The job vacancy rate was about 11.5%, compared to 6% for the industry average in Quebec, according to Statistics Canada.

The CQRHT therefore went in search of solutions. In particular, it set up a pilot project in Charlevoix, which made it possible to transform 27 seasonal jobs into year-round jobs, thus making them more attractive.

“A dozen companies work together to share staff,” says the organization’s general manager, Xavier Gret.

The CQRHT has also created several committees to encourage the employment of certain categories of people, including retirees, Aboriginal people, people with disabilities and people with criminal records.

Human resource marketing is also set to grow. The Trekking Group, which owns a dozen brands linked to adventure parks in North America, deployed a recruitment plan in January comprising around a hundred tactics. Among the strategies in question: bet on the friends of existing employees by inviting them to events in their parks, target CEGEPs, launch advertising campaigns on various communication channels, participate in job days, respond quickly after receiving a CV and increasing salaries to exceed day camp salaries.

But above all, The Trekking Group has defined a clear message. “People don’t come to work. They are paid to make a living from their passion for the outdoors all summer long,” explains the head of marketing for The Trekking Group, Jean-François Couture.

The company thus succeeded in filling all of its 200 to 225 positions in five Arbraska parks. Overcoming the labor shortage would therefore not be an impossible mission, but it must become a priority to be successful.

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