TORONTO — Delegates at The Canadian Hotel Investment Conference (CHIC), held this week at the Hilton Toronto hotel, were welcomed to a day of seminars and networking with a parody of the Guess Who song, “These Eyes.” The send-up, “These Rates,” with funny, yet pertinent lyrics lampooning the hotel industry, broke the ice for a day of serious business on the Canadian hotel industry.

Speaking to the event’s attendance, Bill Stone of CBRE, said, “As GDP rises and falls so does the hospitality business. The other factor, that is a direct correlation, is attendance at this conference.” According to Stone, investment activity has been high. “This year we anticipate investment to be about $2 billion, which would be the highest year of single-asset transactions that have ever taken place.”

The day’s agenda included several talks by experts in their field. With a focus on Internet-based sales in the travel industry, Traci Mercer, vice-president, Market Management, of the U.S.-based Expedia, explained how the landscape has changed dramatically and continues to evolve today. Mercer encouraged her audience to take heed of the exponential growth in mobile applications. “If you are not paying attention to mobile — mobile search, mobile volume, mobile interaction — pay attention to it,” Mercer warned. “This is not going away, and I can assure you, from Expedia’s perspective, we’re hedging a lot of bets on the mobile side. If that’s something an online intermediary is doing, then it’s definitely something you want to be encouraging your brand or hotel to be looking at,” she said.

The conference, wrapped with Isadore Sharp, chairman and former CEO of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, in candid conversation with Amanda Lang of CBC News.

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