Hang out the "do not disturb" sign

November 2021

After a 28-year career in Thunder Bay’s Hospitality industry, Roberta Sawchyn, aka Broom Hilda, General Manager of the Best Western Plus Nor’Wester Hotel & Conference Centre is hanging up her broom and retiring. We asked Roberta about the changes she’s witnessed over the years, the achievements she’s most proud of and her plans for the future.

How has Thunder Bay’s Hospitality business changed over the years?
“The most notable change in Thunder Bay’s hotels/motels is branding. Major hotels like the Royal Edward, Airlane, Prince Arthur and others had private ownership. With our business community and tourism growing there was a demand for hotel rooms. The big brands like Marriott, Hilton, Holiday Inn and Best Western along with many others entered into hotel landscape. Branding brings name recognition and more importantly consistency to the guest experience. Whichever level of service and price point the traveler chooses from the consumer knows what to expect. Brand loyalty reward point programs are also attractive to the traveler. Having said that, the one thing that never changes in this industry is the importance of building customer relationships and delivering on superior customer care. I have always said that people do business with people they know and trust.”

What are you most proud of?
“When I think of this question “Pride” might not be what comes to mind but certainly, “Thankful” does.

I am thankful for the wonderful mentors I have had over my career in this ever-changing and exciting industry. One cannot be successful without the assistance of those who have their life and work experiences to share with you. Also, I would have never achieved my successes without the team of managers and employees that have worked with me over the years. Teaching in the Hospitality program at Confederation College was also very self-rewarding. Serving and giving back to our Thunder Bay community is also very important to me. Volunteering with organizations like the United Way, Easter Seals and being a board member of the Chamber of Commerce, Community Economic Development Commission, Chair of the Thunder Bay Hotel Association & Provincially Ontario Northland have given me a wealth of knowledge and experience. Of course, there is pride
in the achievement of managing a successful, profitable hotel and
making a difference.”
What will you miss the most?
“Oh that’s an easy question! What I will miss the most is making it all happen!!!”

What are your plans for the future?
“My husband was concerned that I may take up golf! But that’s not going to happen. I am an avid sports spectator not participator! I have two very busy granddaughters that I am sure will love to have their grandma chauffer them to all their events. Traveling with friends to places we haven’t been & staying connected to the hotel industry by consulting on special projects and being involved with our community.

Hmmmm sounds a little busy!”

Bill Wrightsell is a marketing consultant and regular contributor to Bayview Magazine. Email him at wrightselladto@rogers.com

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