TORONTO — Yesterday’s annual AGM of the Greater Toronto Hotel Association (GTHA) at the Delta Hotels Toronto Airport & Conference Centre marked a series of transitions.
In his opening welcome as Platinum partner of the AGM, Richard Anderson, executive director of Smart Serve, touched on a few of the changes that have occurred in recent months in the beverage alcohol sector. He cited last year’s legalization of cannabis, as well as the Ontario government’s recent legislation to allow liquor to be served from 9.a.m. onwards.
The legalization of cannabis may not have impacted the industry significantly, said Anderson, but he did stress the importance of educating employees, part-time staff and management teams on how to deal with cannabis in this new legalized world. He said that the industry needs to be preparing for edibles and infused products as they come closer to fruition and stressed the need to update policies and procedures. “Make sure your staff know them by signing off on them and invest in training for your staff.”
Change was a pervasive theme throughout the meeting as the GTHA welcomed a new slate of directors and a new chairman of the board (see list below). Edwin Frizzell, regional vice-president, Accor, Central Canada & GM of the Fairmont Royal York, was installed as the incoming chair of the GTHA, replacing outgoing chair Bonnie Strome, GM of Park Hyatt Toronto.
Though Frizzell was unable to attend yesterday’s AGM, he did send a video message to the board, thanking Strome for her leadership. “Bonnie, you’ve left some very big and pointy shoes to fill, but I’ll do my very best to continue the strong leadership you’ve guided us with,” said Frizzell.
For outgoing-chair Strome, the past two years have been eventful and successful on many fronts. “In 2018, the accommodation sector welcomed 44-million visitors, with total visitor spending of $9 million, with total room nights sold in Toronto of 10, 265,433 rooms — an increase of more than 815,000 room nights in the last five years. On top of that, RevPAR increased 8.3 per cent for the Greater Toronto Area,” said Strome. “The GTHA occupancy rate also continued to rise, while ADR increased by 6.3 per cent.”
Strome cited a few of the issues that continue to frustrate the association, pointing specifically to the inequity of short-term rentals and the uneven playing field in which they operate, adding that while there was to be a hearing on imposing taxes for short-term rentals, the meeting has twice been delayed. All the while, the hotel industry has had to deal with the imposition and collection of the Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT).
In her address, Strome also cited heightened global tensions between China and the U.S. and, closer to home, between Canada and China, adding “China is a very important market for us.”
On a positive note, the industry has seen significant premium-rate reductions by the WSIB and Strome praised the efforts of the association in growing the Spirit Awards, which this year attracted a record 650 attendees and record high 279 nominations. With labour challenges continuing to make headlines across the country, Strome stressed the importance of continued collaboration with educational institutions to ensure a continued supply for tomorrow’s workforce.
Terry Mundell, president of the GTHA, ended the meeting with an eloquent speech that highlighted the importance of leadership in today’s industry. He cited the recent introduction of a co-op placement program called “Be our Guest” by a collective of five Toronto hotel companies as an initiative that has re-energized him and given him hope for the future of the industry. “These hoteliers walked the walk,” he said, in creating a program that attempts to address the challenges of finding talent.
The following is a list of the 2019-2020 officers and directors:
- Alexi Hakim
- Andy Loges
- Ashok Baghel
- Bonnie Strome
- Catherine Velie
- Dan Woodburn
- David Kelley
- David Quinn
- Edwin Frizzell
- Frank Russo
- Hani Roustom
- Janak Bhawnani
- Jeff Waters
- Mark Goldrup
- Michael Singer
- Paul de la Durantaye
- Peter Kingsbury
- Robert Housez
- Tim Reardon
- Umesh Srivastava