A full decade has passed since Hotelier first published the Who Owns What? poster, and during that time the hotel landscape has changed dramatically. Many hotel companies have come and gone while others continue to thrive.
The advent and proliferation of hotel REITs served as the impetus for the launch of the WOW poster 10 years ago, as we attempted to make sense of the mergers and acquisitions that were occurring at a frenetic pace. But these days REITs no longer dominate the hotel market and their impact is slowly eroding given changing taxation legislation. You’re now more likely to see significant growth in the number of hotel management companies with the pervasive trend of the day focusing on a move from ownership to management. As proof, one need only look to Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and Four Seasons Hotels as homegrown examples of this change. Additionally, an increase in the number of franchising opportunities is forecast as new brands continue to pop up across North America, Europe and Asia. The reality is that for many companies it makes more sense (and is more lucrative) to manage or franchise a hotel than to own it.
Still, despite the mindset shift, the hotel industry is fraught with continuous change. Numerous new hotels are in the pipeline, management contracts change hands daily and franchise flags are swapped with growing alacrity. That’s the nature of the hotel game and it’s what makes this industry so dynamic and vibrant.
One can only hope the vibrancy continues unabated. The global investment community has been rocked by a number of high-profile U.S. investment banks shutting down business. Energy and commodity prices continue to rise, and talk of an economic slowdown is expected to keep making headlines into 2009. According to statistics released in August, the number of foreign visitors travelling to Canada was the lowest in three decades. Overall trips to Canada fell 1.3 per cent from May and 12.7 per cent from June 2007 to just 2.3 million visitors. But despite the dwindling figures, many of Canada’s major cities are bucking the trend, posting reasonably strong occupancy rates throughout the summer. And with the 2010 Olympics fast approaching, one can anticipate further growth
— if not across the country — then certainly in western Canada.
Regardless what happens, Hotelier readers can rest assured that the myriad changes to the hotel landscape in Canada will be chronicled and updated
regularly. It’s our job to ensure we produce the most definitive directory so our readers can better understand the complex structure of the industry. But remember, in order to do so we rely on you to provide thorough and detailed information about your companies. As you read through this year’s edition of the almanac and poster, keep in mind the endless hours that go into producing such a product, and remember that ultimately, it’s only as good as the information you provide us.