During the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Montrose Backpackers in Franz Josef Glaciers faced an empty establishment with no guests, absent future bookings, and a lost workforce. With owners Marie and Johnny Collins based on the East Coast, they had no choice but to temporarily shut the facility.
As borders reopened, Franz Josef began to attract tourists again. The challenge for Montrose, however, was the recruitment of a new management team and cleaning staff. They needed managers who could operate independently and were willing to relocate to Franz Josef, a remote township. While the initial recruitment advertisements primarily drew overseas applicants, persistence and broader advertising eventually garnered interest from New Zealanders.
Maria Collins, one of the owners, said: “After closing Montrose during the first lockdown, we welcomed our first guests in over two years. Restarting was challenging, especially from our base on the East Coast. The recruitment of staff was our biggest obstacle, having always had an in-house manager to handle staffing. It was a relief when the Upskill team stepped in. With their assistance, we successfully recruited a capable couple from Whangarei to manage Montrose."