Speaker Reflection

The hospitality career of Martin Leclerc, began in Food and Beverage. The, youngest general manager of the Fairmont Empress describes the advent of his career as humble. He began in the restaurant and pub businesses in Montreal, as he discussed, “I worked in some of the best and worst pubs in Quebec” (M. Leclerc, personal communication, April 14, 2010). Throughout our industry speaker sessions, our speakers have all described their humble beginnings and I am beginning to understand that there is not perfect way of navigating life. Life is what a person makes of it, everything is personal and nothing is perfect, nonetheless, a person will get only what they put into their life. Martin Leclerc’s analogy of a person’s favourite wine depicts their personal preference (personal communication, April 14,2010); some people may like a bold and full life of accomplishment and challenge, while others prefer a subtle, soft, and easy life. I believe the same analogy can work for a person’s career.   Throughout Mr. Leclerc’s presentation, he commented on how this industry gives back only to people who work hard and earn their positions. As Mr. Leclerc continued, “just because you have a degree, doesn’t mean you will get a career.” I am beginning to understand that career achievement is dynamic and does not happen once I pass your final exam in university or finish an internship. Through the last 6 months, Royal Roads taught me to think critically about situations and it is with this education that I will be able to evolve my internship and better develop my problem solving skills.

September 11, 2001 changed the way hotels did business. Martin Leclerc explained the revenue losses associated with unstable travel numbers, and paranoia for air travel lead to a very dim economic outlook for tourism. Although I was only in high school when this event happened, I do remember the impact it had on travel. Nonetheless, I was young and did not grasp the full magnitude of this event. In a press release on September 24, 2001 the World Travel and Tourism Council stated that there would be a decrease of 1.7% in the global tourism GDP (Wayne, 2001). It was this widespread economic effect, which I did not understand in high school, which forced the hotel industry to revaluate its business model. Martin Leclerc spoke about “restructuring with dignity” and I believe this is something of value (personal communication, April 14, 2010.) It is easy to, in my opinion, for a hotel to drop all reason and cut prices to meet occupancy targets, however this only increases the timeframe of negative impact the hotels are trying to reduce with low rates. Hoteliers must be smarter, and not degrade hotel price integrity. In the wake of September 11, 2001, hoteliers had to be creative to reduce the impact of travel cutbacks on their bottom line. It is a very similar situation through today’s economy, and I believe that the importance of price integrity is still misunderstood in the hotel industry. Restructuring with dignity can only be successful if the hotel general manager can stay calm and plan long term. Price integrity is a tool, I believe, that can limit the clean up associated with an economic collapse like September 11 or the recession of 2009.

Community involvement is something I believe to be very important. I was very interested in Martin Leclerc’s attitude on this subject as I find that community involvement, by any large business, is often overlooked in the quest for a positive bottom line. Mr. Leclerc spoke about his experience in Moncton, New Brunswick, how he involved the community in the hotel’s activities. The hotel had four different general managers in two years, and none had engaged the locals in the operations of the hotel. It seems like hotels forget about local demographics in their quest to secure large, international business accounts. However, during a slow economic downturn, similar to the one Canada’s economy is currently experiencing, it is essential to attract local markets and capitalize on local business accounts. Furthermore, community involvement is a feel good activity; it brings people in the local area together and creates community cohesion. In a time when international visitors is decreased and tourism spending per capita is reduced, local business has the ability to bolster a hotel’s bottom line. As the World Tourism Organization explains, global tourism arrivals are estimated to have fallen by four percent in 2009 (World Tourism Organization (WTO), 2010).  Business professionals often manage REVPAR, occupancy rates, and revenue management to increase revenues. However, it is evident through Mr. Leclerc’s presentation that sometimes creative community engagement is all it takes. Regardless of whether it is the middle of winter or the middle of a economic slowdown, a hotel must get creative and utilize its local population to pick up the “tourism slack” that was left by the reduction of international visitors. Before today’s presentation with Martin Leclerc, I did not fully understand the importance of using the local community to increase sales. At Royal Roads University social responsibility is encouraged from its students in a attempt to illiterate how important it is for a business to utilize its local community to increase business. If an hotelier can build community involvement and engage this market, the local community can prove a very positive alternative to international arrivals.

References

Wayne, S. (2001, September 11). Decrease in Tourism Demand Signals Lost of Millions of Jobs Worldwide. World Travel and Tourism Council. Retrieved from http://www.geog.nau.edu/courses/alew/ggr346/wtc/wtc4b.html

International Tourism on Track for a Rebound after an Exceptionally Challenging 2009. (2010). Retrieved April 14, 2010, from http://www.unwto.org/media/news/en/press_det.php?id=5361

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