(l to r) Mark Hope, senior vice-president, Development; Kelli Steer, vice-president, Operations; Jin Sasaki, president; Brigitte Diem-Guy, vice-president, Revenue Strategies & Communication; Takamasa Machiura, executive vice-president

Coast Hotels is leaping into the remainder of 2022 with confidence. Headquartered in Vancouver, the company, which has been a subsidiary of the Japan-based APA Group since 2016, currently has 39 hotels in its portfolio. Its unique properties in Canada and the U.S. are authentic and engaging, fostering a connection with the local community that travellers appreciate. Elevating hotels with local influence has kept Coast Hotels in line with the progressive movement of the industry as a whole.

Earlier this year, Coast celebrated its 50th anniversary at the Coast Hotels Annual Brand Conference, which took place at its flagship property, the Coast Coal Harbour Vancouver Hotel by APA. This milestone sets the stage for the chain’s post-pandemic recovery plan and ultimately its future direction for the next 50 years and beyond.

“[Throughout the pandemic,] we’ve banded together to support all stakeholders — hotel owners, guests and most importantly, our ambassadors,” says Mark Hope, senior VP of Development, Coast Hotels. “We’ve had to make [difficult decisions about] how to operate in this time of uncertainty and at the end of the day, we’ll be stronger for it.”

In the first half of 2022, Coast Hotels added five hotels to its portfolio. In February, the Pomeroy Inn Grimshaw in Alberta was converted into Coast Grimshaw Hotel & Suites; in March, the Lakeview Inn St. Fort John in B.C. was converted into Coast St. Fort John Hotel; in April, the company acquired the Regency Suites Hotel in Calgary and re-branded as the Coast Calgary Downtown Hotel & Suites by APA and re-branded the Downtown Hotel in Yukon to The Downtown, a Coast Hotel; and in May, the company franchised The Oceanside, a Coast Hotel in Sechelt, B.C.

“We’ve been advancing our exponential growth strategy as the industry begins to recover from the pandemic,” says Brigitte Diem-Guy, VP of Revenue Strategies & Communication. “Our goal is 10,000 guestrooms in North America within the next five years, which will also triple the number of Coast Rewards members.”

COVID forced the company to re-think how it operates, fuelling changes in other facets of the business. It’s already implemented a series of green initiatives to significantly reduce its environmental impact and attract travellers seeking sustainable accommodations. In fact, Coast Coal Harbour Vancouver Hotel by APA is the company’s first zero-waste property, which means it doesn’t contribute any waste to landfills, and across its portfolio has introduced keycards made from 40-per-cent recycled plastic, energy-efficient lighting and appliances, low-flow toilets and showerheads, biodegradable cleaning supplies, Oceanwise-certified sustainable seafood on menus, Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper wherever possible and EcoLogo-certified Tork paper products, such as tissues, toilet paper and paper towels. Currently, Diem-Guy says Coast Hotels’ “Social Responsibility Committee is working on establishing guidelines and processes for [their] owned and managed hotels with meeting space to achieve the Green Key Meeting this year.”

Looking at Labour
To combat the industry’s staffing shortage, Coast Hotels has spent time examining where operations are suffering using a localized approach and recognizing the need for a shift in recruiting and hiring strategies. Diem-Guy expects labour will remain a challenge for at least the next two years.

“We have to be innovative in attracting talent,” says Diem-Guy. “We’re looking at ways to improve work/life balance for our ambassadors and what other [core values could impact employee retention]. We’re actively looking at our approach to each role, what our positions encompass and how we can make them more attractive.”

Additionally, Coast Hotels’ People & Culture Team launched a program to offer work experience and co-op roles for students interested in pursuing hospitality careers. Recently, the chain hosted two secondary school students who worked with their National Sales, Brand Engagement and People & Culture team leaders for a portion of the work day over several weeks.

The chain has also unveiled the Coast Hotels Inclusive Language Policy and Guide to help all members of the company “learn how to use language that shows respect, sensitivity and fairness for all Coast Ambassadors and guests,” says Diem-Guy.

When it comes to increasing revenue, Hope says that while he does not expect the company as a whole to return to 2019 levels in 2022, some hotels in select markets will, and might even exceed 2019 results. Individual market performance depends on a variety of factors, he says, but “common to all are the lack of airline capacity and frequency, higher interest rates, rising gas prices and the evolving hybrid-working economy.”

“The challenges of defeating the virus [and its impacts] will continue to test the hospitality industry, our endurance and our resourcefulness,” says Diem-Guy. “We’re confident that with our 50 years of experience, our team is well-positioned to rise to the challenge.”

By Nicole Di Tomasso


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