TORONTO – With only his harmonica to assist him, Ian McAuley, executive vice-president of Asset Management, American Hotel Income Properties REIT LP, kicked off the 20th annual Canadian Hotel Investment Conference (CHIC) with a show-stopping solo performance centered around the conference’s theme ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same’.
This year’s CHIC took place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC) on May 17 and attracted more than 500 hoteliers, investors, entrepreneurs, innovators and other industry professionals.
Amanda Lang of Bloomberg TV, moderated the opening panel ‘Vast Country, Small Market’, which featured speakers Drew Coles from InnVest REIT, Simon Cooper, former president of Ritz Carlton, Silver Hotel Group’s Dee Ruparell and American Hotel Income Properties REIT’s Rob O’Neill. The panel examined and discussed hotel performances and outlook forecasts throughout different regions in Canada.
Lang kicked the session off by asking the industry leaders where Canada is right now with regard to the global economics of the hotel industry; “We’re in the later stages in the North American of the growth cycle,” said O’Neill. “It’s been strong. If you’re in the hotel business today and not making a profit, you should be preparing for tougher times ahead.”
Ruparell agreed; “It’s a good cycle right now, thanks to Chinese money coming in. Prices are up and interest rates are low.”
Coles delved a little deeper, explaining; “We’re in unprecedented times right now. We have the lowest interest rates ever. We’re in a very different end of the cycle than compared to the U.S. though. The Canadian cycle is in a pretty good spot.”
Breakout workshops included Branded Mixed-Use Developments, Trends in Hotel Interior Design and The Real Impact of Airbnb on the Canadian Lodging Industry. The main foyer of the MTCC featured a plethora of various industry booths which included the latest in hotel door locks, window installations and technology.
The conference concluded with a new edition to its itinerary, featuring three groups of wannabe hotelier entrepreneurs competing for the top prize in the #HotelNEXT Competition. The groups’ projects included personalized billing options for a proposed Toronto airport hotel, an Emily Carr-inspired resort in Tofino, B.C. and a hotel-winery hybrid based in the Annapolis Valley, N.S.
Many of the speakers and workshops focused on how the industry has changed throughout the past two decades, highlighting the factors that will help shape the next 20 years.