NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. — Choice Hotels Canada (CHC) held its 2018 Fall Conference at Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls, Ont. last week.

The three-day event brought together approximately 300 attendees, including more than 70 first-time attendees.

During the conference’s opening address, Brian Leon, president, CHC, the company’s recent growth and achievements. “We’re gaining ground on many fronts…overall, we continue to experience strong RevPAR growth across the country. This is our ninth consecutive year of RevPAR growth,” he said. “As we put more focus on book-direct, the results have been notable. Our emphasis on channel-mix optimization has driven more direct bookings, resulting in savings of over $8.5 million in distribution costs at the hotel level as we funnel more reservations to your lowest cost channels.”

Brendan Gibney, senior director, Franchise Services, also highlighted feedback-driven initiatives within the company, including a more Canadian-focused qualified-vendor program and new online education offerings being launched through a partnership with FranklinCovey.

“Ongoing professional development is one of the best ways to keep leaders engaged and Choice Canada wants to be the franchisor that can help owners with their team’s professional development,” Gibney said. “With our footprint extending across Canada, we believe an e-learning platform is the best way to provide this support…And, while Choice University continues to be an excellent online resource for topics relating to our brands, programs and the industry, we believe an additional learning resource can offer our leaders something equally important — the development of business fundamentals.”

The conference featured keynote speakers General Rick Hillier, former Chief of the Defence Staff of the Canadian Forces and technology and marketing expert Amber MacArthur. It also offered a variety of education sessions covering topics such as new-build development, co-op marketing, the industry’s labour shortage, conversion projects, managing online reputation and optimizing digital visibility.

During the conference, the company also unveiled a book celebrating CHC’s 25th anniversary, which tells the stories of 30 Choice franchisees.

“[This] is something I’ve been looking forward to for a long, long time,” said Leon. “About a year ago, when we started to think about ways that we could celebrate our 25th anniversary — a big milestone for the company — we wanted to come up with an idea that was really special for this conference that really recognized the history of the company. We didn’t quite know what [that would be] to start, but when we reflected back on what our company is about, the milestones and the history…the one thing that was loud and clear for us was that whatever we did had to be about our franchisees.”

The book, titled Strength Through Diversity, was written by Dr. Ulrich Frisse of Kitchener-based Historical Branding Solutions, who travelled across the country to meet featured franchisees. “Ultimately, what we did was break down the corporate identity into its human elements — into the stories of the people behind the organization — and that allowed us to talk about the foundational dreams that were behind all of these different hotels, to talk about the passion, to talk about the sacrifices that were made in building all of these different hotel entities,” he explained.

The conference wrapped up with an awards gala at Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery, which honoured CHC’s national APEX-Award winners and celebrated the company’s 25th anniversary.


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