Jean-François Lincourt’s love of hospitality took root in a high-school cafeteria. The 46-year-old native of Sherbrooke, Que. and GM of the Hilton Quebec got a taste of hospitality while spending years serving his fellow students lunch.
But it was after enrolling in the hotel program at l’Institut de toursime et d’hotellerie du Quebec that Lincourt learned the essentials about hotels and restaurants ó knowledge further solidified when he earned a Hotel Real Estate Investment and Asset Management certificate from ECornell.
Today, as GM of the Hilton Québec, the affable hotelier leads the 569-room hotel in Canada’s French capital. “I started at the Hilton Québec in September 2018. Before that I worked in Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Boston. I always wanted to come home to Canada.”
Apart from its prime location and spectacular views, Lincourt credits his team of 400 associates, who embody the Hilton mission to be the most hospitable company in the world, for his hotel’s success. Certainly, as the spectre of COVID-19 continues to loom large, everyone has been affected by the health crisis. But ironically, when the pandemic hit, “the hotel was already closed for a year-long $70-million reno. “We re-opened on January 1 of this year,” says Lincourt, explaining he was able to recall only a handful of staff for the re-opening due to low occupancy levels.
Operationally, and from a protocol perspective, the hotel has re-visited every single aspect of its operations to cope with today’s reality and “adapt our amenities to ensure an even safer experience for our guests and team members,” says Lincourt.
Last year, in collaboration with RB, maker of Lysol and Dettol, and in consultation with the Mayo Clinic, Hilton launched an industry-defining standard of cleanliness and disinfection called Hilton CleanStay, building upon already high standards of housekeeping and hygiene.
The initiative has placed heightened focus on cleanliness that is visible to guests throughout their stay – “from the moment they check-in to the moment they check-out.” Like everyone, the pandemic has provided important lessons for Lincourt. “It made me realize we should never take anything for granted – even something as simple as connecting with family and loved ones or travel. It also re-defined what’s essential in life. We realized how important social interaction is to our lives and how distancing from one another goes against our nature. Finding ways to re-connect is more important than ever.”