Forced to stop by health restrictions, reception halls and event organizers find themselves overwhelmed by the resurgence of weddings and other group gatherings.
"We are booked for the 2023 high season from May to October and we are already being asked for 2024, it's crazy", is surprised Samuel Fontaine, co-owner of Mouton Village, an area which hosts events in Saint-Charles-sur - Richelieu.
Tourisme Montérégie confirms to the Journal that the recovery of events is very strong.
A recent survey of its most active members in the sector shows that reception room occupancy rates are approaching 100% for the next few months, from Thursday to Sunday.
Manage two years of deferrals
The demand is strong since the groups who wanted to meet in 2020 and 2021 have for the most part had to postpone their events.
Mylène Mayer, a wedding planner in the Montreal area, explains that professionals find themselves managing “two years of postponements in a single year”, in addition to new events.
Victims of shortages
But the pandemic has had a hard time testing professionals working in the field of weddings, company parties, birthdays and other collective celebrations.
And the supply and personnel challenges add to the difficulties already encountered in the past two years.
As requests pour in, Mayer has seen her toolbox dwindle.
"There are rooms that are no longer there, suppliers that have had to go out of business," she says. A few wedding venues and lots of caterers, DJs, photographers...”
An industry that has shrunk
Mouton Village saw its turnover fall from $1 million to $400,000. Even if the family business has managed to maintain an activity by offering a grocery and picnic service, and despite the wage subsidies, its owner claims not to have been profitable in 2020 and 2021.
Other important local players have closed or are restructuring and many professionals are no longer operating at maximum capacity.
Thus, several reception rooms and dining rooms no longer open on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Book much earlier
Event players tell the Journal that they have very busy schedules. Customers should therefore book well in advance.
“Before, it was more like a year in advance for reservations. Today, we are at two, two and a half years, ”explains Samuel Fontaine. The co-owner of Mouton Village says he receives calls from worried people asking him: “Do you have room in 2023 for a wedding? Because there's no more room anywhere..." But the area is already full in high season, next year.
For the bride and groom, the situation can be disappointing.
But after two lean years, the entrepreneur sees this in a positive light. In 2022, he hopes for a turnover 25% higher than in 2019.