MONTREAL — The Fairmont Tremblant and Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth in Quebec, in partnership with Giant Steps Montreal, a global leader in autism education and professional training, will launch an autism-inclusive hiring initiative and commit to further improve the guest experience of autistic individuals and their families. This pilot project will be the first of its kind in Canada.
At the height of the pandemic, Anne Marie Johns, GM of Fairmont Tremblant (named Hotelier of the Year by Hotelier magazine), focused on her employees, providing training and opportunities for innovation, while offering engaging guest experiences. Johns approached Giant Steps following the hotel’s pilot project with Loblaw Companies Limited, which resulted in an autism-inclusive hiring initiative across the country.
“I met with the leadership team at Giant Steps and quickly realized the potential and benefits of hiring autistic and neuro-divergent individuals in our industry, knowing also that a labour shortage would be one of our industry’s greatest post-pandemic challenges,” says Johns.
Giant Steps is a delivery partner for the national, federally funded Ready, Willing and Able (RWA) employment program that promotes inclusive hiring and provides access to agencies and resources. The two Quebec hotels recently met with the first candidates coming out of this program.
“With a lack of services in the community for autistic adults and a high unemployment rate of 86 per cent, Giant Steps continues to seek and develop new partnerships and synergies to address these challenges,” says Tania D’Alesio, Director General of Giant Steps. “We are extremely excited about this new partnership with Fairmont Tremblant and Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth and the potential to make an impact in this industry.”
“The AHQ is thrilled to support this initiative and be an active partner in promoting this innovative and inclusive model to our members, a model that celebrates diversity in the industry and allows everyone to develop their full potential,” says Véronyque Tremblay, president of L’Association Hôtellerie du Québec (AHQ).
Additionally, Giant Steps has proposed a second phase that would lead to new business opportunities, such as enhancing customer touchpoints for autistic guests and their families, providing staff training on autism, identifying sensory sensitivities, improving meetings and events with quiet rooms and creating a more accessible dining experience.
“As a parent of an autistic child, I know that travelling can present certain challenges, but there is a great opportunity for businesses in the travel industry to better adjust and enjoy a competitive advantage,” says Andre Pereira, director of Marketing and Communications at Giant Steps.
“At Fairmont, we provide travellers with attentive service and memorable experiences, and the thought of being able to provide grand moments of life and leave a lasting impression on a deserving customer base is very motivating,” says Johns.