TORONTO — In the high-spirited second day of Choice Hotels’ annual Canadian conference, Tim Oldfied, managing director, welcomed more than 200 delegates to the Toronto Airport Hilton. With a rallying cry of “I’m taking Charge,” delegates were thanked for attending the regional conference to “get the tools they need to do their jobs better.”

The day kicked off with an opening session led by Martin Foster, chair of the Choice Canada Franchise Advisory Board, who introduced delegates to the 2012-’13 Board. It’s comprised of Troy Rainville, vice-chair; Vinnie Patel, member at large; Hammond Joshi, member at large; Yannick Thibeault, member at large; and Alan Richard, Western Canada. Foster told franchisees in the crowd: ”We’re expanding the channels of communication so it will allow franchises to share their ideas and concerns and to bring local ideas and concerns forward.”

After his presentation, Oldfield presented awards to the company’s star performers. Among this year’s winners were: the Comfort East Scarborough, Ont., which won the award for Most Improved Overall Condition; the Econo Lodge in Montmorency Falls, Que., which took honours for the Greatest RevPAR Growth; and the Comfort East Scarborough, which won the award for the Most Improved Likelihood to Recommend. The Best New Entry went to the Quality Inn in Victoriaville, Que., while the Rookie of the Year award went to the Comfort Inn & Suite in Virden, Man. The Chateau Saint John in New Brunswick won the award for the Highest Likelihood to Recommend, with a score of 9.6.

A Franchise Development Luncheon capped off the second day of the conference. Here industry pundits from Colliers International, PKF and GE Capital provided guests with a statistical overview on the past year as well as forecasts for the coming year. Robin McCluskie of Colliers noted “A total of $1 billion in hotel transaction volume is expected in 2012, slightly lower than last year’s 1.1 billion.” She added that 2012 volume was driven primarily by sales of hotels for alternative use such as the Four Seasons Toronto. There were seven trades this year to alternative use (residence, seniors home, et cetera). “Supply growth has been muted over the past four years, but demand has grown by about 10 per cent. Demand is not the issue,” said Erin O’Brien, PKF, pointing to stagnant rates as a key industry concern.

Next year’s conference will take place in Ottawa, which will mark the first time the regional session is held outside Toronto.

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