OTEC’s Joe Baker: Training Camp & Skills Drills

OTEC’s Joe Baker compares hotel owners and managers to sports coaches. “Our athletes have been in an off-season world for the last three months.  Before we can get them on the field performing at their peak during games, they will need to go through training camp and skills drills.”

By Joe Baker
First published by Canadian Lodging News

As hospitality and tourism businesses start to re-open across the country, we are seeing a slow return to the next normal.  Many of our industry associations and organizations have been rallying to remind our governments how essential the tourism sector is to Canada.  Of course, as operators and educators embedded in the field, we didn’t need a crisis to understand how valuable we are to local, provincial, territorial and national economies and communities.

We know this pandemic has been devastating to our businesses.  It is testing our resilience and innovation to get back on our feet.  In this critical moment during the very early phases of re-opening, I would like to reflect on the impact this pandemic has had on our workers and make a few suggestions as to how we can re-engage them and create some win/win scenarios.  Just how many Canadian tourism workers have been affected by the pandemic?  Tourism HR Canada reports that at its peak, the pandemic saw nearly 900,000 workers sidelined.  Recent reopening has restored more than 80,000 jobs so we are heading in the right direction, but the impact on the people of tourism has been profound and will be lasting.

So, what can we do to get them re-engaged in adding value to our businesses as we fight our way back?   Let’s imagine what we would do if we were team owners or coaches.  Our athletes have been in an off-season world for the last three months.  Before we can get them on the field performing at their peak during games, they will need to go through training camp and skills drills.  Especially because we will be asking them to execute our value propositions in a whole new world where health and safety have become front and centre.

As you welcome your valued associates and team members back to the workplace, try to keep in mind that they may need more time training and practising. And that the skills required to serve your guests, clients and business processes themselves have shifted, changed and evolved.  As business owners, leaders or even senior managers, you are well aware of the environment we are now operating in – but they may not be.  Do not underestimate just how challenging this time has been on them mentally.  Encourage and support them. Connect them to the issues and resources.  The good news is that many industry organizations and associations are working together to create resources for businesses and workers as we re-connect everyone to the new tourism industry.  Keep your eyes open and your participation focused on surveys coming out to inform these recovery tools.

This has always been a people-first industry.  Nothing brings people together quite like a catastrophe.  And now is our time to pull together an emerge even more resilient.  Reminding our workforce why tourism is a rewarding place to launch, grow and develop careers and livelihoods.  Please keep the collaboration going.  Because we can overcome anything. Together.

Key recovery tools are available from:

Joe Baker has recently joined OTEC as a Systems Leadership and Integrated Strategy Advisor.  He will be focusing on supporting tourism industry recovery efforts in collaboration with the many organizations involved in several active projects and initiatives.  He is an experienced speaker, facilitator and writer.  Contact him at: jbaker@otec.org