Meetings and congresses | Outaouais: labor shortage forces creativity

Fairmont Le Château Montebello declines some events due to lack of staff. Hôtel Lac-Leamy asks employees to occupy two or three positions at a time. Undoubtedly, the establishments of the Outaouais must show ingenuity in dealing with the recovery.

Posted yesterday at 4:00 pm.

Samuel Larochelle

Samuel Larochelle
special cooperation

The demand for business events has increased significantly, according to Nathalie Beauchamp, Fairmont’s marketing director. “We have not been able to return to our pre-pandemic status because of our ability to host events and the lack of manpower,” he said. Customer demand is greater than ever, but we have to limit ourselves. »

In addition to hosting a smaller wedding, the establishment has reduced its menu choices. “It’s especially difficult to hire restaurants. »

In Lac-Leamy, the pandemic and the staffing crisis prompted the organization to encourage double and triple work. For example, a person assigned to a restaurant may be asked to provide banquet service, while baggage handlers may be called upon to set up rooms. “Last summer, one morning, we had to set up a room for 1,000 people, and I found myself with people from casino games, security and the sales team that prepares the room,” explains Marc Labrie. , director, hotel and restaurant.

That said, no one is forced to multiply tasks. “We ask without coercion,” he said. I want to send the message that everyone should participate. He recalls a Sunday where he gathered colleagues from the administrative sector to support the chambermaids.

After leaving a client, we entered the pair, we took the sheets and towels so that only the maid could clean and change the beds. We have developed the agility of our staff. It creates a magical buzz in the organization.

Marc Labrie, Director, Hotel and Restaurant, Hotel Lac-Leamy

The hotel faces many challenges related to workers and the strong return of business clients. “People are very excited to meet again,” Mr. Labrie said. A warm autumn awaits us, and we have signed contracts for 2023 and 2024.

Unheard of in 35 years

Same story with Hélène Marzoyer, business event planner. “When the door opens in the fall of 2021, it will be a full-time machine,” he explained. I work from 5 am to midnight. Everyone is pedaling to do some activity before the next wave. I have never seen that in 35 years of racing. »

Clearly, the recovery shows no signs of abating. “The coming year is going to be crazy,” he predicted. Although I focus on my customers, I am not enough to meet the demand. »

Among his clients, there are Americans who have a very different relationship with the pandemic. “They’re in their own world,” he said. According to their industry, most people who experienced the pandemic did not experience it like here. »

Some of them felt the effects of the crisis between one and three months before continuing as before. “They don’t understand that we were almost closed for two years. They expect everything to be as before, services and suppliers. »

At Fairmont, we recognize different needs. “Clients want team building more than ever,” says Nathalie Beauchamp. As people still work from home, companies want to organize events to bring their teams together and create a sense of belonging. »

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