TORONTO — The hotel business has been on an upswing for the last several years, and 2015 is no exception, according to experts at yesterday’s Best Western Leisure Travel Summit held at Toronto’s Arcadian Loft.

“We’re seeing double-digit growth across Canadian and U.S. markets, and we anticipate consumers should be booking early and often to enjoy those vacation trips,” said Dorothy Dowling, SVP, Sales & Marketing for Phoenix, Ariz.-based Best Western International.

Brian Payea, head of Industry Relations for Boston-based TripAdvisor concurred, sharing data from the company’s TripBarometer survey. Results indicate 32 per cent of travellers plan to spend more this year than in previous years, while international leisure trips are expected to increase by 15 per cent. And though price, travel reviews and location are important factors for booking travel, hotel amenities (free Wi-Fi, free breakfast and more) continue to influence bookings for 77 per cent of respondents.

Dowling also elaborated on the importance of marketing to women, as they make 90 per cent of travel decisions for their families. “We have a very laser-focused plan of action against activating women and understanding what they’re doing in terms of dreaming and planning and executing that trip.” Best Western facilitates trip planning by emphasizing the on-the-road experience — free Wi-Fi, free parking, free breakfast, a swimming pool — to ensure smooth travel and add value for women and their families.

Lastly, panellists noted a convergence between leisure and business travel. “The voice of the customer in terms of peer reviews, in terms of user-generated content and in terms of wanting to do it their way is already transforming business travel. The whole concept of companies dictating has changed,” Dowling concluded.


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