TORONTO — The 2013 Days Inn Canada conference kicked off yesterday, when more than 100 Days Inn franchisees and corporate staff from across Canada gathered at the Park Hyatt hotel in Toronto to discuss new developments and celebrate award winners.

Irwin Prince, president and COO, Days Inns Canada welcomed the crowd and announced seven new properties that joined the Days Inn family in 2012, including units in Yellowknife; Chetwynd, B.C.; Golden, B.C.; Kamloops, B.C.; Calgary Northwest; Lloydminster, Alta.; and Miramichi, N.B. The company has also signed deals in Whitecourt, Alta.; Yorkton, Sask.; Winnipeg; and North Bay, Ont. With 97 hotels currently in Canada, and 8,500 rooms, Irwin says construction on the 100th hotel — at the Calgary Airport North — will break ground in the spring. “We are not just focused on unit growth, but individual hotel growth,” Prince emphasized, adding franchisees should focus on recognizing staff and guests and pushing top-notch cleanliness, acknowledging CBC’s Marketplace report about hotel cleanliness.

In keeping with that theme, the company will be introducing new germ-detecting illuminator technology at individual hotel properties. He also noted individual properties should focus on staying competitive by refreshing lobby and breakfast areas. “The lobby and breakfast area can have a huge impact” on the customer, says Prince, who noted it’s easy to remove clutter and change the presentation of Daybreak Café offerings.

After a lunch awards ceremony — where Doug Sholter of Days Inn and Suites Strathmore, Alta., was given the award for GM of the Year, and Days Inn and Suites Collingwood, Ont. was recognized for top housekeeping — the afternoon wrapped up with a panel discussion featuring sales heavyweights from Expedia, Jonview Canada and Canadian Tours International. The execs tackled subjects such as the ongoing rate debate, managing online reviews, how to provide value to international travellers and what to serve guests. Providing a decent breakfast and proper cutlery is important, said Terry Engesser, managing director at Canadian Tours International. “For our European customer, eggs are important; fresh fruit and yogurt,” he said, adding guests prefer sustainable plates and cutlery.

The conference ends today.

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