TORONTO — What do consumers want when they visit a hotel? That was the question The Hotel Association of Canada attempted to answer through its annual Travel Intentions Survey, released at this year’s HAC Conference, held February 16 at the Sheraton, Toronto Airport.
Donna Dixon of the Strategic Council walked attendees through some of the salient points of the survey. According to the online survey, which targeted a total of 1,153 respondents, business travel was slightly down from last year (from 22 per cent to 19 per cent) while leisure travel was expected to increase, from 24 per cent to 27 per cent with interest growing in locations such as Banff, Jasper, Ottawa and Quebec City. While Canada’s sesquicentennial celebrations “did not show up as a motivator for travel, the Canadian dollar is definitely having an impact on where to travel,” said Dixon, pointing to fewer visits to the U.S. Dixon said that factors for not travelling as often to the U.S. include the Canadian dollar (82 per cent), new government (35 per cent), and safety concerns (14 per cent). Among the provinces cited as top travel destinations are Ontario (29 per cent), B.C. (24 per cent) and Alberta (10 per cent).
With regard to business travel, consumers are travelling less due to the growing use of video conferencing, a hike in gas and airfare costs, and concerns about the economy. And, when it comes to which amenities are important to leisure travellers, comfortable mattresses, friendly service, high-speed wireless and free breakfast rank high. Interestingly, loyalty programs are on the decline for business travellers, but are on the rise for leisure travellers.
The Travel Intentions Survey also included questions focused on Airbnb and found that the lodging service is becoming a more viable option. According to the findings of the survey, in 2016, 21 per cent of respondents had used or planned to use Airbnb. This number is expected to increase to 28 per cent in 2017. Of that total, in 2016 business travel constituted 19 per cent while leisure travel accounted for 55 per cent. While the popularity of Airbnb appears to be increasing, the survey also found that 49 per cent of the respondents had never heard of Airbnb in 2016 while that number was expected to grow to 54 per cent in 2017.