Yves Lalumière
President and CEO of Tourisme Montréal

One-on-One with Yves Lalumière

February 25, 2022 - One-on-One

One-on-one with Yves Lalumière, President and CEO of Tourisme Montréal since 2013, a leader who is passionate about his city and travel, and who talks to us about the compassion needed in his work every day.

1. What have you learned most about yourself as a leader?

I have been in the tourism and entertainment industry forever; that is, with Amex, Transat and Tourisme Montréal: it’s an industry that generates happiness. This is a great sector, and it has been growing for the past 20 or so years now. We were the only industry to have 4-5% renewed growth each year. Of course, the last several months have certainly turned things upside down, but I feel quite privileged to be part of this industry in spite of the hardships; I think that you learn the most in times of crisis. Over the years, I would say that passion and commitment are truly what drive me, even more so in times of crisis.

Also, throughout my career, what I’ve really enjoyed are the contacts I’ve made throughout Canada, the United States and the entire world. That’s also how I think you learn; by travelling, taking your cue from other leaders beyond our borders. We often tend to work with blinders on, too focused on our peers as leaders certainly, but companies are like that too. When you don’t know what you don’t know, you tend to keep the same impressions and perceptions, which often turn out to be untrue and erroneous. I think that it’s important to reach out to others to be able grow on a personal level. I think you must feel comfortable getting to the source of information, you have to remain curious about how other people do things, and always compare yourself to the competition, because it’s what drives you forward.

2. What sort of positive leverages do you use to reach your goals?

Kindness. Always be kind with people. It’s important to listen to others. Everyone has a role to play in the tourism supply chain. A traveller interacts with many tourism stakeholders when they are on vacation. So, you must be able to influence many people to be successful.

I think that being close to people is the key to everything. You need an authentic connection. Not just chatting with each another but cultivating good relationships over the years.

3. What inspires you in the day to day, what is your motivation, what gets you out of bed in the morning?

There are so many diverse aspects to what I do: I get to speak with people with diametrically opposing views, with business goals and personal goals that completely diverge, influencers, entrepreneurs, people behind great causes, and all this in a single day. Then, in the evening, I get to go to events, museums, restaurants and feel the pulse of the city… I really do have one of the best jobs in all of Montréal! Being happy and being at the top of my game, having the opportunity to connect with the cultural and sports industry, politicians, major players in Montréal—that is what drives me.

My daily inspiration is making investments for entrepreneurs in the tourism industry grow, and keeping them happy.

Lately, we’ve been working a lot with restaurant owners, hotels and the tourism ecosystem. How can we help them in the short term? You need empathy to understand their reality because it’s an industry with really slim profit margins. We work with people who have guts, but they need more than that to survive. This is what gets me out of bed in the morning, and I to bed at night knowing my job was well done.

4. What prepared you for taking the helm of Tourisme Montréal and the challenge of making Montréal shine on the world stage?

I’m a guy from Rosemont, the Plateau and then I lived in Villeray, so I know Montréal really, really well..

I represented Montréal internationally with American Express, and Transat where I was also responsible for Canada and the global committee. I’ve always loved welcoming visitors and helping them discover what a destination has to see and do: it’s part of my DNA.

I worked my way up to representing a destination. And at that point, you become the ambassador of a destination. I’ve always worked with partners, whether hotel partners or franchises or travel agencies. And I’ve always been a strong supporter of small- and medium-sized business when developing business plans and ensuring their return on investment.

5. If you had to single out a hero over the past many months, who would you tip your hat to?

I think that we underestimate the work of civil servants. These people work very, very hard, and even though we never see or hear about them, they keep the wheels turning, and they are faced with decisions that are hard to manage.

I also think that we underestimate the work of politicians, who are not paid enough and work tirelessly. And this was even before the pandemic hit. When you are mayor of a city and you make $200,000, it’s practically nothing, considering the workload.

So, hat’s off to the mayors, civil servants and elected officials who should be recognized for the incredible amount of work that they do.

6. What would you like to leave behind as President and CEO of Tourisme Montréal?

I would really like to bring us back to the record performance we had in 2019. Get downtown Montréal back on its feet, but especially reposition Canada as a world-class destination.

If we are going to do this, though, every Montrealer, in many different boroughs, not just downtown, has to start working toward this, welcoming people, making connections with these ephemeral residents. I think it’s important to keep this top of mind, despite the situation we are currently living through, and make people feel really at home, because we are extremely welcoming by nature.

I think that people need to understand that they have a spectacular city. We have some one hundred festivals, museums, the people are nice, the culinary scene is incredible, etc. People can’t often see that. I often give the example of when you are driving and look in in the mirror on the passenger side and it says: “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear”. It’s the same thing for Montréal: “Montréal is much better than you think it is”. I would like to instill this sense of pride and make people happy, knowing that they belong to this great city.

I think it would be fun to be able to share my experience by offering free advice to young people who really want to grow in their career. Maybe mentoring for La tête chercheuse?

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