Pierre Bellerose, vice president, public relations, hospitality, research and product development
Hospitality has always been a priority for Tourisme Montréal and Montrealers are famous for their warm welcome. Surveys show that traveller satisfaction actually exceeds 95%. But how can we do even better? How can we rethink traveller hospitality in 2017 and, in particular, the experience at the destination?
Why make hospitality a priority
The ubiquity of mobile phones and the paradigm shift regarding the use of technology has profoundly changed travel behaviours. On one side, travellers now plan much more spontaneously: The choice of restaurants, outings and activities is often made on the spot. On the other side, travellers share their experiences on social media both during and after their stay. It is thus more important than ever to fully understand travellers’ journeys as well as their needs, to offer them a flawless experience. It is on this basis that Tourisme Montréal decided to integrate hospitality into its strategic guidelines, as part of its effort to ultimately become the benchmark in this area.
What comprises the Montréal hospitality strategy
Tourisme Montréal’s hospitality strategy includes several components (tourist information kiosks, mobile information agents, mobilisation activities for the tourist industry, etc.). Moreover, the new strategic hospitality activity developed by Tourisme Montréal for 2017 is built around four pillars: points of entry, hotels, attractions sites, and shops and restaurants. First, the CVB created an impactful in-destination visual identity that was unveiled all tourist arrival areas: airport, train and bus stations, cruise terminal and tourist hospitality offices, as well as in taxis and public transport networks. The identity expresses Montréal’s personality and welcomes travellers with a bonjour or with wishes for an enjoyable stay or event. At the same time, all stakeholders received training. This is the first time we are aware of that a tourism bureau has shown such initiative and managed to mobilise so many local players around a collective hospitality effort.
Indeed, one of the keys to hospitality is information. Travellers have access to lots of information, but the challenge is how to navigate through it. Frontline stakeholders need to know the destination like the back of their hand to help travellers orient themselves and find what they’re looking for. Another key is empathy. Travelling can be stressful, so stakeholders need to be facilitators at every level to help make a visitor’s stay as enjoyable as possible. Hotels will follow suit this summer in an effort to play an even bigger role in the personalisation of service and the experience at destination.
When conferences come into play, the hospitality strategy becomes all the more important. Customising hospitality features at entry points and working in partnership with the Montréal taxi office, hotels and various attractions will help to create an overall integrated experience. Additionally, the Palais des congrès de Montréal is naturally one of the main partners in this initiative and its staff is trained specifically for each conference.
The implementation of a hospitality strategy is a dynamic process. The goal is not to reach a finish line, but rather, to improve continuously. Tourisme Montréal has completely updated its digital ecosystem and developed a collective database that includes all partners. This intelligence aims to follow travellers more closely as a means of better assisting them at every step of their journey. The data collected also provides insights into behaviour at destination to ultimately improve the hospitality strategy. The strategy must therefore evolve, and the necessary resources have been put in place to ensure that business intelligence guides choices. Most importantly, we must continue to develop relationships with our business partners to ensure that the entire city contributes to the traveller experience.