TORONTO ― Hotel industry insiders converged at the Hilton Toronto Hotel Feb. 3 for the Hotel Association of Canada’s (HAC) annual conference, which examined the challenges in the economy and offered tools for future success.

Philippe Gadbois, chair at the Ottawa-based HAC and SVP of Operations for Atlific Hotels & Resorts in Montreal, kicked off the day with an industry overview, emphasizing it’s not necessarily business as usual. He explained that the slowing economy, dropping loonie and oil prices may keep Canadians close to home. However, there is a silver lining. “We all know a dollar is a dollar to an American, but history also shows when the dollar gets into the 75- to 80-cent territory Americans start taking note and start travelling to Canada,” he said.

Gadbois offered an industry overview with some stats from PKF. He reported total overnight visits nationally are expected to grow between 1.8 to 2.7 per cent in 2015 and occupied room-night demand is expected to increase by 2.0 to 2.5 per cent per annum within the 2015 to 2018 period. He also noted that, after posting sub 1.0-per-cent growth from 2012 to 2014, supply is expected to increase by 1.5 to 2.0 per cent per annum between 2015 and 2018. “Overall, with demand outpacing supply, the net result should be improvement in both occupancy and average rate,” Gadbois said. So, what’s the bottom line? “Adjusted NOI on a per-available room basis can be projected to improve across all regions in Canada, including growth of 36 per cent in Central Canada, 34 per cent in Atlantic Canada, and 29 per cent in Western Canada over the period between 2014 and 2019. As we look beyond 2015 there will be overall growth,” he said.

Breakout sessions covered topics ranging from revenue management to examining the millennial consumer and operational techniques for success. In one of the sessions, Linda Hartwell, director Marketing Communication and Business Development for HAC, presented results from the organization’s “Travel Intentions Survey.” Some key findings:

  • In 2015, 82 per cent of leisure travellers will travel more or the same as last year
  • In 2015, 81 per cent of business travellers will travel more or the same as last year
  • The biggest considerations for more leisure travel are cheaper airfare, discount accommodations and weekend packages
  • The biggest considerations for more business travel are discount accommodations, luxury rooms at a standard rate and weekend packages

Many awards were distributed throughout the day, including the HAC Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Michael Beckley, SVP of Lodging Development for Marriott Hotels & Resorts in Mississauga. A 56-year veteran in the hospitality, Beckley has worked at 10 hotels in seven countries and held several voluntary senior positions in the Canadian tourism industry. “Under Michael’s leadership, Marriott Hotels of Canada has more than tripled in size with 124 properties and another 20 expected openings this year,” said Gadbois. “And, with the recent acquisition of Delta Hotels & Resorts, this makes Marriott the largest full-service hotel company in Canada.”

Beckley offered wise words, upon accepting the award. “I’m grateful to my mentors who have been many over many years, where I’ve come to realize that the power of influence is far greater than the power of control,” he said.


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