Peak Season Preparation: Summer Staff Hiring
The peak season for the Alberta tourism industry is typically in the summer months. There are many opportunities to hire summer staff employees to help your business through peak season. Seasonal summer staff, specifically summer student staff, provide value to enhance your tourism experiences with enthusiasm and growth.
This blog will explore the insights of organizing summer student programs in tourism, provide tips from hiring summer staff, summer staff management, and sharing resources for student-staff wage subsidy programs that are available in Alberta. It will also cover tips on how to bring more value to summer staff positions through management strategies and staff development initiatives. ITA recognizes the importance of supporting youth and students from the community as they are the future leaders in the Indigenous tourism industry.
ITA Member Highlight Story with Leon Hunter from Métis Crossing
This month ITA met with Leon Hunter, Manager from Métis Crossing. Leon shared about the recruitment process hiring summer students and tips for managing a 3-4 month summer staff program. Leon shared about Métis Crossing’s initiatives to help support Alberta’s Indigenous tourism industry’s growth by hiring summer student staff.
Effective recruitment is essential for finding the right staff for your tourism operation. Just because you have the job posting does not mean you will get the right kind of applicants. For example, the farther your business is from an urban setting, the more proactive you will have to be in the recruitment process.
Before recruitment, Métis Crossing researches relatable fields within post-secondary programs for their employment of summer student staff. Initiating outreach with post-secondary programs across Alberta in Indigenous Studies, Anthropology, and Archaeology, for example, has been beneficial for Métis Crossing’s summer student staff recruitment. Leon also encourages tourism businesses to utilize their ties to the community and recruit through word of mouth. This helps to support hiring at a grassroots level, giving more opportunities for youth in surrounding communities.
Métis Crossing found that hiring first or second-year students and having them return in following summer seasons has helped create ongoing relationships. Leon found that returning students provided mentorship and leadership to new staff, making training more effective throughout the 3-4 month program. Returning student staff build on their skills each summer season which also supports their development working in the tourism industry.
Métis Crossing believes in the importance of sharing values with summer staff by supporting initiatives that build on their experience and development in attaining tourism operator skills. For example, there are incentives for summer staff, such as acquiring training like a canoe guide certification or interpretive guide training, which is valuable experience for students.
Hiring Staff that share your business values
Lastly, Leon from Métis Crossing shared valuable insights on management tools. It is essential to create a summer staff team who shares the values of creating meaningful experiences for visitors and sharing the Métis culture and stories with a good heart. Leon looks for a summer staff with a passion for sharing Métis culture with visitors, specifically students interested in being cultural interpreters. Having a team that shares a collective set of values is the most crucial part of having a successful peak season.
“Any time we have youth who come to work they add value to Métis Crossing. The diversity of young people on our team tells a story: some connected to culture and others coming to connect to Métis culture. Non-Indigenous students can get an intimate understanding of the Métis Culture, supporting our mandate of sharing Métis culture with all people, starting with staff to gain skills to share with the visitors. The staff understanding the culture is so important because the deeper the understanding the more empowered they are to share with visitors. Ensuring staff is well-trained adds to the quality of the visitor experience at Métis Crossing.” – Leon Hunter
- Effective recruitment is important in getting the word out about your summer employment opportunity. Make sure to do your research on how to get the word out effectively, where, and to whom. Look into different university faculty hiring boards, Facebook, and community bulletins.
- Look for people who have existing skills in the areas of your business where you need support. Due to the short season of summer, you will only have 3-4 months of training and onboarding, so ensuring your summer staff has prior skills that your business needs is important.
- Provide opportunities for rehiring staff in future peak season employment.
- Partner new staff with experienced employees to assist in the training process and provide mentorship opportunities. Ensuring staff are well-trained adds to the quality of the visitor experience.
- Providing incentive opportunities for summer staff such as guiding licenses and training.
- Schedule regular check-ins with summer staff to ensure they feel valued at work. This will be helpful in encouraging students to return to work at your business in future seasons.
- Look out for summer student employment job fairs and events with local organizations such as Aboriginal Futures and Community Futures Treaty 7.
- Share your summer student employment opportunity and recruit with Indigenous Student Centres in post-secondary institutions across Alberta:
- Iniikokaan Centre – Bow Valley College
- Indigenous Student Services – GRPC
- Kihêw waciston – MacEwan University
- Indigenous Services – Lethbridge College
- Iniskim Centre – Mount Royal University
- Nîsôhkamâtotân Centre – NAIT
- Indigenous Student Services – Norquest College
- Chinook Lodge Resource Centre – SAIT
- First People’s House – University of Alberta
- Writing Symbol’s Lodge – University of Calgary
- Iikaisskini Gathering Place – University of Lethbridge
Tools and Resources
ITA will be hosting virtual Regional Member Networking Events on Zoom during the last week of April. In the virtual networking events, we intend to create a sense of community for members in regions throughout Alberta. The goal is to create opportunities for members to build partnerships so everyone can have a thriving business during this upcoming peak season.
Northern Region: April 27 3:00-4:45 pm
Central Region: April 28 3:00-4:15 pm
Southern Region: April 29 3:00-4:45 pm
Rockies Region: April 30 3:00-4:15 pm