The calendar may officially signal a new year in January, but September signals transition like no other month. As we leave the lazy days of summer behind (although the extreme weather this summer didn’t make it feel like a true summer), our focus returns to a back-to-business mentality.

Thankfully, for the hotel industry, it’s been a solid year, marked by an upward trajectory in both occupancy rates and room rates (see the Hospitality Market Report on p. 33). Despite challenges in western Canada, the rest of the country has had a great deal to smile about with birthday celebrations throughout the country and in Montreal where that city fêted its 375th birthday. Undoubtedly, year-end statistics will reveal a greater number of domestic visits, as well as increased international visitation, during this special sesquicentennial year.

As with all things in life, it’s about timing. Finally, after years of flying under the radar, Canada is gaining worldwide attention. Earlier this year, Lonely Planet named it as “Destination of the Year.” The New York Times also ranked us number-1 on its list of best destinations. Not surprisingly, countless other countries are also lauding us — not only as a great place to visit but also in which to live.

But there’s still much that needs to improve from a tourism perspective. Surprisingly, Travel + Leisure magazine’s recent list of best hotels in the world only highlighted three Canadian properties — Fogo Island Inn, Post Hotel & Spa and Manoir Hovey — begging the question, why aren’t more Canadian properties making the cut as top destinations?

As we move into a new season, there’s no better time to focus on what needs to be done to ensure customers continue to find your business relevant, and that, as a country, we continue to produce properties that can compete with the best in the world. It’s all about capitalizing on what makes your brand unique, what keeps it relevant to your customer base and how to balance what you offer with what guests want.

More than ever, as the industry grapples with constant change, it’s important to not become complacent. With recent stats from CBRE in the U.S. showing that Airbnb now represents five per cent of the lodging industry — and boasted more stays in 2017 than in 2015 and 2016 combined — the industry can’t lose sight of this burgeoning source of competition.

Certainly, brand proliferation and the fear of saturation and brand creeping continue to pose real threats, which means hotels will need to better differentiate themselves from the pack. And, with the increasingly important millennial cohort set to disrupt the market further, we can only look forward to a faster rate of change than ever before.

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