A Trip Through Time: Looking Back at 30 Years of Hotelier Magazine

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During three decades of covering the Canadian hospitality industry, Hotelier has documented — and been shaped by — major shifts within the national (and global) hotel landscape. Since the magazine’s launch as a quarterly publication in 1989, it’s born witness to three recessions, the impact of increased globalization and an ever-intensifying rate of change.

Although they may be remembered as dark times, the challenging landscape of the early ’90s gave birth to a wave of innovation as the industry was forced to tighten its belt. Ultimately, it came out the other side leaner and more effective with the launch of destination-marketing initiatives and the Canada Select accommodation-rating system as prime examples.

The economic challenges of this period also spurred a wave of branding within the Canadian market. Notably, between 1996 and 1998, the number of branded properties in Canada climbed from 15 to 25 per cent to a staggering 75 per cent. And, on a global scale, a wave of new and increasingly specialized brands were being introduced at a rapid pace. Upon rebounding from the woes of the first half of the decade, the late ’90s saw the hotel landscape become increasingly competitive, with rates rising; more services and perks being offered; and property improvements and portfolio expansion underway. The last half of the decade also saw mergers and acquisitions reach a frenetic pace — fuelled, in part, by the launch of Canadian REITs. In fact, 1997 saw the launch of three REITs, which increased Canadian hotel investment from 30 per cent to 74 per cent, with 122 hotels sold in 1997, for a total investment of $1.98 billion.

Economic factors remained a key source of industry challenges moving into the new millennium, but, in the early 2000s, these were joined by a wealth of outside forces that resulted in a series of significant setbacks for Canadian hotels. The cumulative struggles of the early 2000s included such factors as the fallout from 9/11, a weak U.S. dollar, airline bankruptcies, the 2003 blackout and the outbreak of both SARS and mad-cow disease.

More recently, continued consolidation and a series of mega mergers have reshaped the Canadian hospitality landscape, with the number of ownership companies continuing to shrink as the number of brands on the markets grows.

And, of course, we’d be remiss not to mention the several major undercurrents that have run though the last 30 years, including the many implications of technological advancement, continuing consolidation and chronic labour shortages, as well as an ever-increasing focus on design, customization and amenities.

Further explore the defining moments of the last three decades with Hotelier’s 30th-
anniversary retrospective.

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