Rosanna Caira: After 18 months of living through lockdowns and re-openings, how is your company doing?
Paul Loehr: From my perspective as a developer, it’s been really tough for a while now, but thankfully, it’s getting better. We work closely with our development partners, and a lot of them had some significantly tough times with regard to liquidity issues, et cetera, so we tried to be really good partners to them. For example, when cash flow was low in an operation because hotels were not doing well, that became the primary focus versus trying to get a hotel open. A lot of people don’t realize our success comes from our development partners — they make the investment. So, it was tough on the development front from that perspective, but during the toughest times is when you find out who your true partners really are.
Roz Winegrad: A lot of my time was spent with my owners and franchisees, providing whatever relief Marriott had been providing throughout the last bubble of 18 months and making sure the operations stayed afloat. We provided every bit of support from financial relief to tools, resources, marketing, sales and trying to stay as nimble as we can. And while I missed seeing people face to face, in many ways, we became much closer along the way with calls, with Zoom, with Teams, and with just individual calls saying, ‘what do you need, how can we help?’ Personally, I’m grateful I still have a job — that we’re all here together talking about the future, which is very, very bright.
Serge Primeau: It’s been the perfect storm from every angle — nothing we ever thought we would see in our lifetime. And actually, it was a rollercoaster. Dealing first with health-and-safety issues, then with liquidity because it went very fast and then credit facility in trying to navigate the future and trying to have a vision.
Most of the consultants that were issuing reports were trying to have a vision saying, well, in three months, in six months, in nine months, and then recovery by ’23 ’24 or ’25. So, actually it came to a point in saying, our crystal ball is just as good as anyone, because nobody knows so we navigated through that. Now we feel there might be light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re dealing with employee shortages so that’s another storm…and retaining and maintaining our talent pool has been also a big challenge over the time — we succeeded in doing so, but it required a lot of effort. Because 2018, 2019 were record years in Canada and elsewhere in North America; we had a pipeline of hotels, so we’ve opened about 10 hotels during that timeframe, and just six in Canada this summer. So, obviously we’re looking ahead at the future and saying we’re anxious for a re-launch soon.
Cindy Schoenauer: [The market] did pick up from starting in June last year. Looking at year-to-date July figures and our STR data, starting with major markets, STR tracks six major markets, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto. Right now, Vancouver and Calgary are doing better than the other major urban markets, meaning not as much RevPAR decline. They’re still seeing RevPAR decline year to date. July and August, we’ve seen some really good pick up, so that’s contributing, and the numbers should get better for end of year. But what is also really positive is I’m seeing demand growth year to date in Edmonton and Calgary —roughly two or three per cent — that’s very exciting to see. Alberta had a really strong re-opening plan starting mid-June, and hosted the Calgary Stampede, which got almost 50-per-cent attendance. In Vancouver, the RevPAR decline year to date is only roughly seven per cent and what’s really contributing to that is Vancouver Airport as some of our airport markets are seeing some good pick up. This has been year to date and due to the mandatory hotel stays and quarantine demand in those markets. Going into major markets, sub-markets, one that is really standing out is Abbotsford-Chilliwack, which is part of Vancouver. That’s also
contributing to that RevPAR growth we’re seeing in Vancouver, or RevPAR better performance out of the urban markets. In Abbotsford-Chilliwack, we’re looking at roughly 30 per cent RevPAR growth. And we’ve got the Transmountain pipeline coming through Western Canada from Edmonton to Vancouver, so that’s really helping certain markets, Abbotsford Chilliwack being one of them. And we have had evacuation demand in B.C. as well through July and August, so that’s picking things up there. And then other key markets that are seeing growth are Victoria and Okanagan, which are big leisure markets.
Nicole Nguyen: It didn’t matter what market you were in, what customers you were traditionally serving, in the third week of March, that all evaporated. There was very little, if any, demand of any sort while people absorbed the initial impact of COVID-19. The whole industry saw the same contraction, the same low point and since then, it’s been a real mixed bag of how performance has come together, what recovery or any improvement in performance has looked like. Because one of the things we’re tracking is that if you’re in a downtown urban core, you’re probably still seeing high single-digit, maybe low double-digit occupancies.
You have some real challenges depending on product type, on ADR still, because there’s the absence of international demand with our international border only just having opened [on September 7] to a lot of inbound. And with the rules and regulations that are in place, you don’t have the corporate business travelling into your major city centres the same way. So, what we’ve seen is resorts picking up really strong leisure demand through the summer. Canadians were done being at home, done being in lockdown, and want to go on some sort of vacation, somewhere and so they travelled within Canada and were willing to spend a little bit more than we’re known to spend in our own country because they’d been at home for so long and deferred probably a bunch of vacation plans. That leisure pick up has really helped. It helped last summer and this summer we saw another really good bump on that.
But as we head into the fall, there are concerns again around things such as some of our larger meeting/conference hotels, the big-box properties. There’s still big segments of demand that aren’t there today that need to come back to fill the base, provide some level of compression, so that we can drive rates and really see the kind of forward movement we’d like. It’s very hard today to look at year-to-date numbers, to look at month-to-date numbers, because you’re still comparing an unimpacted first quarter of 2020 to an impacted first quarter of 2021. And so, year-to-date, July, for example, we’re showing national RevPAR still down 12.5 per cent. But if you looked at it from April onward, it’s actually quite a bit of growth as opposed to being down. It’s just the comparison of those two periods. So, we’re going to talk a lot more going forward, and our outlooks about recovery relative to a ’19 base and what that might look like. Because it’s very hard to do a 2020 to 2021 comparison.
Mark Kay: When COVID-19 hit, the biggest focus for us — and the discussion with our clients — was around our current commitment letters that have been approved both for acquisition of the hotels, and construction. When you’re getting a commitment letter, you’re starting the process three to six months before. And now you have a commitment letter in place, construction is basically almost locked up with the trades, ready to start construction, or you waive conditions and you’re ready to close. Lenders all have a right to pull out if required due to uncertainty of the market. So, we have the discussions both with our lenders and our client base, and thankfully all the acquisitions that took place where lenders had supported the close; we did hear that some institutions had pulled out and they did not get their financing on closing. With regard to construction, it was more or less split — those that were already committed and already locked up their trades, we put the security in place and worked with the lenders to start funding. Other hoteliers that may have a bigger portfolio and dealing with other issues at the same time, they retracted saying, ‘look, we’ve got to put a hold on it and we’re going to wait until certain economy comes back.’ Fast forward to today, what’s very interesting is that the construction market is coming back. There are hoteliers that have put everything on hold. Their argument right now is, there’s less supply coming to the market so if we start today, and by the time we’re finished, they’re betting on a normalization in the market. Right or wrong, you’ve got to make a decision. Then the other hoteliers, maybe they’re more conservative or dealing with more on their plate, are holding back and saying, hey, let’s wait until there’s normalisation. And the positive side of it, too, is institutions are supporting the construction and acquisitions as of today’s date, based on the data we’re having.
John McGinn: Architecturally related, we’re starting to see steady climb back in hospitality work over the last six months have seen a steady increase in new projects coming online and ones on COIVD-19 hold starting to move again.
Anil Taneja: The last year has been really hard. The hardest part is all the indecision because of the uncertainty. Do we build, or do we renovate, or do we not? Do we put everything on pause? And on a Monday, you can wake up with all this optimism and on Tuesday, you’re going to wake up and think, ‘oh my God, I’m crazy’ for what you thought yesterday and let’s put everything on hold. There was nothing we could do to figure out what the right answer was, and we’re still in that now. There are no right answers — you just have to make decisions based on your gut and potential optimism. The hardest thing we had to deal with is we lost some absolutely amazing people because we had no occupancy and that’s a trauma that still lives with us as an organization today.
Amy Bostock: What long-term changes do you see happening in the accommodation sector?
PL: The focus on cleanliness and hygiene in the hotels is something we’re all aware of and that’s a huge focal point. The other issue that comes up is the use of more technology. COVID-19 has pushed us into doing some things
we wouldn’t do otherwise.
RW: Following up on what Paul said, in our select-service hotels in the U.S. we’re testing a fresh food vending option, which plays into the need for contactless and frictionless travel. Those are two terms that I’ve heard used more frequently over the last year or so. Also, with respect to the labour challenges that we’re all experiencing, that’s a big shift for us in hospitality — we’ve never had such an acute labour issue. It’s very concerning and it’s a threat to the stability of how we can take care of our guests in the way they expect us to take care of them and deliver clean rooms on time and maintain our brand reputation. So the notion that labour can be such at a critical shortage is changing the way we are thinking about recruitment and retention strategies.
AT: The last recession, if we can call this a recession, was called the Great Recession. And this one we’re calling the Great Resignation around the world. At our company, we’re praying for the Great Re-hire to follow it. Our industry was hit more than [any other] when it comes to the labour force because all staff that thought they were secure in their jobs have seen the volatility that we’ve just went through. They’re fully aware that they’ve got amazing transferable skills and some of the best training in any industry in the world, and able to apply that across others. So, they’ve left their industry for safety and security, which is one of the most important job functions. I can assure you our industry is coming back, and we will be a safe and secure industry as well. But because of that, we have to be aware that this isn’t going to be what it was before. This labour challenge will continue to be a challenge and we need to look at technology and robotics in order to solve that. I completely agree with the idea of food-vending machines. We’re completely supportive of getting any form of labour to be more efficient. However, if we had all the answers, we’d already do it and we’d be making a lot more money.
SP: From a guest perspective, what we’ve learned through this pandemic, has to do with availability of food, cleanliness programs and technology and we can use all of these together in order to meet our objective. From an operator’s point of view, there was some learning through this pandemic as we had to operate with less people and still try to provide all the services. There were some key learnings and we’ll have to review all of our services going forward because given this staff shortage — and also how long this recovery will be — we no longer have the luxury of offering services that we don’t know for sure that guest needs. So, we need to focus on the ones that we know for sure that they need and be very efficient in providing the rest of those services.
AB: From a numbers and trends perspective, what changes are you seeing long-term in the industry?
CS: One interesting thing I’ve seen coming out of STR is they recently put out some stats post-pandemic of what the break-even occupancy rate is for a full-service hotel post pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, the break-even occupancy was 47 per cent. Full-service hotels now average around 35 per cent so operators have found ways to roll back the break-even occupancy, mainly through laying off employees. So, long term, with a cleanliness program, that might mean there’s less rooms being cleaned during a shift and that is a concern. On the other hand, there might be some more-efficient ways of operating hotels. We’ll see that when hotels stabilize, so that remains to be proven over the next few years in ’23, ’24, ’25 when we see stabilization happen. And from a consumer perspective, guests are also looking at HVAC: do the windows open, are there balconies, that sort
NN: From a profitability standpoint, hoteliers will probably push pretty hard to keep some of the leanness they’ve been able to find in the operation. There may be an increase on costs because housekeeping requirements have increased and there’s the increased cost of labour. But we’ve found some other ways to do some things, whether it’s third-party servicing, that is going to the bottom line. And so, going forward, we expect that operators will work to keep that in the program. How much of that stays at 100 per cent, we’ll see.
But the other thing we’re seeing is just such a short booking window. Going forward, even coming out of this, people will crave flexibility — we’re going to have a lot of trouble getting people to book their vacations six months in advance as they’re going to want, at least over the mid-term, to know they have the ability to change those plans at the last minute. So, the consumer, particularly as they spend their own money, the discretionary travel, they’ll look for ultimate flexibility in everything that they do, whether it’s airfares, hotel bookings — or even activities and events once they’re in a city or a destination. They’ll look to know that’s almost fully refundable and they have the flexibility that they’re craving today to make those decisions based on what the environment
MK: From our perspective, we rely on the expertise around the table. You guys are the ones with the expertise to give us the advice to figure out what does the expense normalized look like going forward, what is the revenue normalized looking forward? And our focal point really is, what does stabilization and NOI look like? What does the net income look like and how do you service debt? So, we look to you for that information and guidance, and as long as we can service debt, then everybody’s happy.
AB: What do your company’s international expansion plans look like for year(s) ahead?
AT: We’re eternal optimists so we’re still excited about growth plans and opportunities coming up in Canada. We expect there will be opportunities coming up in the future even though we haven’t seen as many as we thought we would at this point. But this is a really hard business and we’ve learned that through the last 18 months more than ever. There’s going to be a lot of people that are tired — we can feel it ourselves — so we hope that that’s an opportunity to capitalize on and grow across Canada and the U.S. as well. We’re not seeing as much product come up in Canada to purchase, but in the last 60 days we’ve seen a ton of product coming up in the U.S. and are quite excited about several opportunities out there that we’re working on.
PL: We’re really focused on growing the all-inclusive platform for the company. It’s the fastest-growing segment of the vacation-lodging industry. We entered the space in 2019 with nine properties and we recently did a transaction with Sunwing, Blue Diamond Resorts, which added another 19. So, right now from an all-inclusive perspective, our company has penetrated the top-10 largest all-inclusive companies that are doing this, which ties in well with the idea that people want to treat themselves to something nice. And now that we’re in the Caribbean and Latin America and we’ll have more presence there, there’s a great opportunity to grow this all-inclusive platform in other parts of the world. There’s great runway in Europe, for example, among other markets throughout the world. The other thing I would add is that our upper mid-scale brands globally are lesser known. These are brands like Fairfield, TownePlace Suites, and Moxy. So, Fairfield and TownePlace in the secondary and tertiary markets throughout Canada, there’s fantastic opportunities to grow. We’ve got a small prototype to be able to introduce those brands into these various markets and we’re getting some good traction with that. And the fun one, which is much different from Fairfield and TownePlace Suites, is our Moxy brand. Thisis for the young and the young at heart; it’s edgy. It’s primarily an urban brand and we’ve got two hotels that we recently announced — one in Montreal, 216 rooms, right outside of Griffintown and our first Moxy in Banff, which will open next year with the Canalta Group. And then we have two others which we’re going to announce in the coming months in major urban centres in Canada. So, in summary, all inclusive and upper-mid scale for us.
SP: Where we see the opportunity, and there might be some niche opportunity in the cities, is in the resort area and in the secondary resort area, because we’ve seen that the pandemic has made people more excited about fresh air and exiting the cities — we’ve seen our numbers in resort properties going up. So, we see some opportunity in the smaller resort areas and are looking at those. From a secondary or tertiary market, the suburban, moderate, extended-stay type hotels have been proven to be good during this time, and we see some opportunity. It’s already started in the U.S. — there’s a huge development happening in that tier in the States, and we feel there’s opportunity in Canada as well.
JM: Our U.S. work, architecturally, has been on a steady increase since last year and we’re continuing to see growth in that market.
RC: How do you feel about the new vaccination passports?
RW: Marriott is very much in support of a global vaccination program because we believe that vaccinations are the way to move out of this crisis, and we’ve joined forces with HAC to really promote the need for vaccinations. We’re very much in support of passports but the risk is that every jurisdiction all over Canada and other parts of the world have their own passport, and it gets confusing on how to manage with that. We have to work hard to create a really seamless and simple way for people to get back to travel and a universal passport of some sort, app-based, will be something that will make it easier. While it’s somewhat politicized, the benefit for customers is they can trust that travel is safe and plan for travel. Having that confidence that it’s safe to travel is critical to our recovery.
RC: What’s your standpoint on associate vaccines? Have you mandated it at your properties?
RW: In general, we’re 100 per cent supportive of making getting vaccinated very easy for our associates. In Canada, we have just over 250 hotels and 85 to 90 per cent of those are franchised so, of all the management companies for Marriott in Canada, I would say we have 96, 97 individual management companies. When we talk about our associates, it’s a broadly used term that’s very difficult to mandate and that’s pretty consistent across the brands. But we believe that on the managed side, whatever decisions we make will become a best practice for the other 95 different management companies in Canada. We work with the Hotel Association of Canada on the brand board to try to assess what the approach will be for mandating associate vaccinations. This changes daily so what I say right now, in 10 minutes from now could be very different. I spoke to one of our owners in Montreal and he said we have to change the dialogue about vaccinations from whether you’re pro- or anti-vax to being purely an economic discussion — if we want to work, if we want to have businesses that survive, if we go through another major shutdown, a lot of businesses will not survive. Getting people vaccinated across the board is going to be the best way to preserve business, and we have to talk about it in those terms.
SP: No we haven’t. Obviously that’s a high priority for us and to Roz’s point, we need to try to understand the governing policy as they change every day. The challenge here is ambiguity. I think if we can get clarity around vaccination, and the tough thing is, should the burden be on the individual enterprise, or should the government regulate it? And we’re all in favour of a mandatory vaccination passport in order to re-launch but as long as we’re asking individual corporations to make that decision, we won’t make it happen — it has to be government related, and that would be a big relief for the industry if it could be done.
AT: We’re looking for government authority to give us more direction on that and we’ll follow suit. But we in Canada have not found it to be as difficult a problem as the media has suggested. We, in fact, had our Marriott TownePlace Suites advertising to customers that it has a fully vaccinated staff, which ended up yielding great occupancy. So, we see that as an opportunity during this crisis of unknown and this uncertainty. On a personal side, I do believe that the communication has been entirely wrong throughout the world by calling it a vaccine passport. I see this as no different than an immunization record. My kids started school this week and I had to submit all my immunization records and I see no difference. By calling it vaccine passports, we have changed the idea and the perception and given them an opportunity to be debated, when this is something that’s already been in place for a very long time and just needed some fine tuning.
CS: The decision was made for us when the first country decided they were going down this road, because once you had one country, one jurisdiction decide this was going to be a requirement, it was very difficult to then have a lot of countries, or a few countries not do the same thing. People feel like there’s still a debate, but I don’t know that there is at this point because it is an economic issue — if we want to get back to travel, if we want to get back on the road, if people want businesses to stay open, this is probably written in stone at this point. Ultimately the economic impacts of it, of being able to keep gyms open, being able to keep restaurants/hotels open, is important for our industry and for the economy just in general.
AB: Many global companies are now opting for hybrid or virtual meetings. How is that impacting your business and what are your plans to help that recover?
RW: Throughout the last year-and-a-half, we, like many other companies, have been developing hybrid-meeting protocols and use of Teams in-room to reach the people at home. We’ve had many of our larger conventions that we’re all used to going to that have been virtual. What I do know is that people really need to meet in person and as soon as we can get the vaccinations up to 85 or 95 per cent, people will want to meet in person. From a booking perspective, two things that I would mention. First, in the short term, all operators are seeing a tremendous number of social events and weddings. As soon as the restrictions were lifted, whether people got married and now wanted to have their party or were waiting to get married, the demand for social events such as weddings is huge right now. From an association perspective, for many, their source of survival is to put on events so, we’re seeing tremendous demand for that. And then from a group perspective, we’re seeing our funnels starting to fill up, and the interest in booking in ’22 and certainly ’23 is very strong. The key is to keep the momentum around vaccinations strong.
AT: It’s had substantial impact and we’re not seeing the funnel for 2022 very much. We’re seeing ’23 and ’24 with enhanced negotiation on cancellation policies. It will come back — it’s just going to take time. Hybrid meetings are going to be the new thing and I don’t know if we’ll have, in the near term, conventions as large as we used to have so convention space will be less relevant and meeting space will be more. But that’ll only be temporary. Wherever we’ve got large convention and meeting space, we’ve actually renovated during the pandemic and improved, and invested in, our technology, re-done our carpets and our wallpapers and made it look fresh so there’s a story to come back to. And I think that makes it exciting because there’s going to be a
lot less fish to fish from.
SP: That segment has totally disappeared in the last 18 months but there is an eagerness for people to meet again in person — they’re just waiting for the regulations to be softened. We’re seeing it because in a lot of areas, if you do small meetings, 25 people or less, you’re allowed to function almost regularly. One of our hotels [recently] had 17 meetings going on in one week. They were all-day meetings so it’s people that are doing smaller — from four to 25 people — get-togethers for one day. They won’t necessarily go out for two, three nights for now, although they’re anxious to start doing it. We’re dealing now with a practical issue where you can have a meeting where all people will be asked to be double vaccinated but you could be served by employees that are not. So, there is kind of a disconnect there. And when we survey all of our hotels to see what is the level of vaccination at our hotels, it will vary, but it’s generally, 85, 90 per cent. But just 10 per cent of 100 employees at a hotel is 10 people that are not vaccinated. The problem is, if you mandate vaccination on their side, well maybe next door won’t do it and since hotels can’t afford to lose a single employee, it makes it a very practical issue — that’s why the government needs to intervene and that will help tre-launch that segment.
RC: How are labour shortages impacting your company and what are you doing to deal with this?
RW: Marriott has put together a number of different playbooks that we’ve shared with our franchise-management companies and franchisees, talking about best practices in recruitment and retention. It’s a challenge in so many different positions, whether it be housekeepers, restaurant staff, finance and operations leaders — there’s a shift in what people can tolerate or what they want to do in terms of work. The government programs that are critically important to keeping families and individuals with enough money to survive is something we’re going to look at along the way to see if that’s helping or hurting our industry. We’re also looking at what the average rate is for some of these highly sought-after positions and roles. Are we paying enough? We’re looking at the way we hire, the length of time from recruitment to starting, and how to shorten that because in that window where before it was okay to take a week or two to process all the paperwork, today someone is finding another job where they’re going to get hired sooner. In speaking with so many of the operators, the issue in terms of recruitment is also training — we simply don’t have time to do the training if we get the candidates. In some hotels in leisure or high-demand markets, they’re getting staff in and throwing them right on the floor. And the poor recruits, we’re not doing it the way we know we need to do to take care of customers, but there’s a sense of survival. So, taking care of those associates, getting them trained and getting them equipped to do their job well, paying them well, remembering how important benefits and culture are — we have to really go back to basics on that.
RC: How has the pandemic slowed any construction projects on your end, and what does that pipeline look like moving forward?
MK: For the last six months, there has been a lot of discussions with the hoteliers that have put the brakes on their current projects, pre-pandemic. And there’s about 50 per cent of them in our portfolio that we’ve been working with who are looking to start construction. So, we’ve been in the market on the debt perspective, I’d say in the last three months, for those that want to move forward and start the construction by late fall and early spring, which is great to see. So, at the end, the positive momentum is we are filling up pipelines with brand new builds. Most of it is going to be what we’re seeing is leisure markets, but also the suburban market, secondary markets, long-term stay. But also, there’s still strong momentum from the institution standpoint to lend towards the capital, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel in the next 18 months to a year by the time everything’s built out, that we should be back to our normalisation.
NN: What we’re seeing and what we’ve seen through previous cycles is very different. So, this time around, we saw the supply stop almost immediately, and that was a lot of the uncertainty. The lenders weren’t sure, the developers weren’t sure. Everybody kind of went, no, we’re going to pause this, we’re going to think about it. And then we’ve had the compounding supply-chain issues, and that’s just drawn projects out. As we look at ’22, and even the latter part of ’21, we actually see quite a bit of supply coming into the system at a time where you would think, why is this supply being built, why is it opening? But it’s because it was in that process. And you don’t generally stop the process once you start — you’ve got to get through it both from the lender’s standpoint and the developer’s standpoint. It makes no sense just to throw your hands up in the air and say we’re going to stop partway. So, we see the supply in the short term higher than you would expect but what will happen is we’ll see a bit of a right size of that as we go into the more midterm.
There is a big disconnect today between where construction costs are at, and where values maybe are or aren’t. Also, some lenders are more cautious about what they’re willing to lend, loan to value, on a new-build construction project. And so, again, the developer is having to put a lot of equity on the table and if you’ve already got assets, you’re trying to ensure cash flow and stability for putting a lot of equity on the table to do a new build in today’s environment is going to be a big decision for you. Are you going to do that and potentially risk some of your other assets and some of the cash flow you’ve got there? And just kind of keeping all the balls in the air. So over the short term, we’ll see a lot more supply than everybody feels is reasonable but that’ll probably work itself out and normalize it.
PL: We have roughly 75 projects in the pipeline [in Canada]. Thankfully, there have been no cancellations, which speaks to this theme of flexibility and working with our development partners and is a testimony to their trust in our brands. The other piece is that conversions are a greater percentage of our pipeline than ever before. So, you’re an independent owner, you’ve maybe thought about working with Marriott at another large company to try to catch the upside by plugging into a rewards program such as Marriott Bonvoy, so that’s been appealing. And then you have non-Marriott brands, hotel owners that have a contract maybe coming to term. So, we’ve had a decent amount of activity relative to conversions. The financing piece, is tough. We’re having some success with mixed-use projects, for example, rental apartments up top and hotel on the lower floors, and now you’re not financing just a straight hotel, but that development partner is now financing a mixed-use project with rental apartments which are in high demand. Things remain strong in our overall pipeline but for this year, it’s been a challenge.
RC: What is the outlook for the hotel industry in the coming years?
CS: Seeing the numbers for July and August, it’s been a big relief to see that growth happen with all the re-opening plans across the country. We’re going to see a burst of pent-up demand for 2022 and obviously it’s getting better for ’21 as things re-open and we’ve got the border open now to fully vaccinated travellers. Also, looking ahead, extended stay is going to be something developers are going to be interested in building. It’s positive and we have to be really optimistic now.
AT: [Next year] is still slightly unknown but in 2023, we’re all going to be here high-fiving and hugging at our 1,000-person industry conference. And complaining about how high the room rate is at the conference we’re attending.
PL: I’m an optimist and you have to be when you’re in the development business. But it’s less about data and more about my own personal experience and observations about the human spirit. This is a business about relationships and trust, and you can’t do that over Zoom or on a phone call. So, I really do believe that’s going to come back. And then on the leisure side, there’s a human element that the family trip you wanted to take — that you wanted to put off for a couple of years — let’s do that now. Let’s do that trip with my dad or my grandparent. Let’s treat ourselves, let’s have fun. So, for those two reasons, both business and leisure, once people feel safe, there’s going to be a tsunami of travel and it’s going to be a lot of fun.
RW: The fact that we’re all here today proves that it’s starting now. To add on to what everyone else has said, we didn’t really talk about Marriott’s Bonvoy program. We have to remember that people have a lot of points to use and we’re going to be very grateful to have these travellers using their points in our hotels, whether it be for business leisure — the bleisure travel — or the leisure travel. People need to travel for business, for sanity, for social reasons, and it’s starting now.
SP: I’m cautiously optimistic that in 2023 we’ll all be talking about COVID-19 as history. And to Cindy’s point, we just got off of a July/August that was optimistic based on results. But we have to remember that obviously this was the two segments that are working right now — the leisure segment and the social segment. We just need that sparks to get it going. But it’s a matter of time, it will come back no doubt
JM: We will see a steady climb as this becomes the new future for us in the coming years. People are re-inventing the type of travel they’re doing and the “staycation” will continue to grow. As we work our way into our new immediate reality, we’ll see a return to more business travel and weekend staycations. We’ll work our way through this — we always have — and while there may be some bumps in the road, the global mentality is to return back to something close to our previous norm. It’s already happening, people are back at work, back on planes and continuing to push through this
NN: There’s a pretty strong runway in 2022. I don’t know that it’s as good as we had initially hoped 2022 would be, because we kind of lost 2021 to the fourth wave, to the third wave, to all the things that are happening now, to the continued border closures. And so, in some ways, our starting points may be a little bit farther back from where we’d like to be. We still believe that we can get there by 2024, a recovery to ‘19 levels. But the big boom year will likely be 2023, as opposed to 2022. But I do believe there’s a ton of momentum in 2022, particularly from about May onwards. There are concerns around the first quarter, and even into the early part of the second quarter, but once we get past that, we start to feel more comfortable. We’ll be back outside again, hopefully the snow will be gone at that point, and people start moving around and we’ll start to see people get back to business. So, I’m optimistic that 2022 will be a big improvement over what the last two years has been, but 2023 is the winner of the year in terms of where we’re going to see the most re-growth.
MK: We’re bullish. The majority of our institutions we work with are back to the market. Although, to Serge’s comment, cautiously optimistic, but they’re lending, which is great news. Even the support we have from our institutions during the pandemic, our lenders, we have funded more than $400 million during the pandemic, thanks to our Canadian institutions, which says a lot. And our pipeline is double this year from construction and even for refinancing.
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