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alberta hospitality

The Official Magazine of the Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association

Spring 2013

Alberta Alberta Properties Properties Find Find Their Their



In-Room Entertainment

Changing Expectations


From hotel rooms, lobbies, to your restaurant/bar, Best Buy does it all.Providing your guests with all the entertainment possibilities is essential to the success of your business! Whip up great dining entertainment using the latest HDTVs, sound systems, projectors and help create the comfort of home for their in-room experience. At Best Buy, our selection of electronics can help turn expectations into reality

OUR COMMERCIAL SERVICES INCLUDE: · Site surveys and project management · Design and staging · Installation and set-up · TV and remote programming · Nationwide delivery · Recycling of old TVs · Extended warranties and service plans · Multiple payment options including O.A.C. and leasing · Projector mounting · Screen install (fixed/manual/motorized) · Customized indoor/outdoor audio/visual design layout · Video Walls · Digital Menu Boards Email us at or call us at 1.877.423.3429 to discuss your business needs today.

alberta hospitality

Photo courtesy of Delta Hotels

this issue 6 IN-ROOM ENTERTAINMENT Changing Expectations

These days, different types of properties are coping with a wide range of challenges when it comes to keeping travellers entertained during the time spent in their rooms.


in every issue 4 Chairman’s Report 5 President &CEO’s Message 12 Alberta’s Treasures 17 Travel Alberta 36 What’s New? 37 Names in the News 38 Member Value Program

Alberta Properties Find Their Perfect Niche


18 Keeping Students Safe 18 The Wagon Wheel Motel 22 Canadian Travel Intentions 23 Protecting Cardholder Data 24 Fraud: A Fearsome Foe 29 Travel Trends in 2013 30 Hotel Discounters 34 US Travel Intentions 35 Calgary Stampede Success 36 Story-Telling and Destination


alberta hospitality

Official magazine of


AHLA 2707 Ellwood Drive, Edmonton AB, T6X 0P7 Toll Free: 1.888.436.6112 CHAIR OF THE BOARD Perry Wilford FIRST VICE CHAIR Steven Watters VICE CHAIR Michael Sieger VICE CHAIR Tina Tobin PAST CHAIR Mike Shymka PRESIDENT & CEO Dave Kaiser, CHA DIRECTORS NORTH Amr Awad Mark Perry Tony Verbisky DIRECTORS CENTRAL Perry Batke Robin Cumine DIRECTORS SOUTH Joseph Clohessy Mark Hope Marc Rheaume Leanne Shaw-Brotherston

by Perry Wilford

A Seat at the Table There is an ebb and flow to politics, where it can seem that change is the only constant. That ebb and flow presented our industry with a new Minister just a few weeks ago. In a pre-budget cabinet shuffle Premier Alison Redford appointed The Honorable Dr. Richard Starke as Minister of Tourism, Parks and Recreation. Along with our CEO, Dave Kaiser, and Industry & Government Relations Manager, Tracy Douglas-Blowers, I went to meet with our new Minister just a week after he was sworn in. I cannot overstate to our members the value of having a strong relationship with the people who serve us in government. We are sometimes challenged to ensure our industry issues are understood and acted upon. We can’t always expect to get everything we want, but there is just no substitute for having a seat at the table when important issues are being discussed. Having a Minister who understands the ebb and flow of the hospitality and tourism industry is also critical. Our meeting was scheduled for 30 minutes but it lasted over an hour. The Minister was curious about the value of the Tourism Levy to our industry as well as the role of Destination Marketing Fees. And while he had many questions for us, he was obviously well up to speed on many of the key issues that affect our industry. We impressed upon him the very real labour shortages our members struggle with and the need for an evolving and effective strategy to address it. We talked

about the success we have seen from using the 4% Tourism Levy to market Alberta as a tourist destination, and the need to ensure all of those dollars continue to go into product development and marketing. We also shared the work the AHLA has done to support transparency and accountability of DMFs in Alberta. So what did we take away from the meeting? Dr. Starke is undeniably enthusiastic about the great ‘pockets’ of tourism products around Alberta. And while he recognizes the importance of iconic attractions like the Rockies, the Calgary Stampede, and the West Edmonton Mall, he was just as excited about Camrose’s Bailey Theatre, the Medalta Historic Clay District, and Whitecourt’s annual snowmobile rally. There was no question in our minds that this Minister wants visitors to experience everything that Alberta has to offer. We have a Minister of Tourism who is passionate about this portfolio. He understands tourism’s potential benefit to our economy, and recognizes that the key to success is a strategic and aligned approach to tourism marketing. Dr. Starke clearly understands that collaborating with the AHLA and other industry partners is key to long-term success. And that’s a table we are happy to have a seat at.

DIRECTOR, CAMPGROUNDS Chris Eklof Alberta Hospitality is published quarterly by:


T 604-574-4577 1-800-667-0955 F 604-574-2196 Publisher & Editor - Joyce Hayne Copy Editor - Debbie Minke Design & Layout - Krysta Furioso


UPCOMING ISSUE Summer 2013 • • • •

Closes May 24 Publishes July 5

Alberta Travel Outlook Trends to Self-Service Balancing Labour Costs & Guest Experience Design Trends

Call 1-800-667-0955 to reach 2,300 buyers who are sourcing new products.


Provincial Update An unexpected deficit of $4 billion, a minor cabinet shuffle, and a new direction for gaming and liquor - these are important issues that will impact Alberta’s tourism and hospitality industry. As the voice of industry, the AHLA is focused on the threats and opportunities these issues may present. The negative impact of the “bitumen bubble” on resource revenue is a major challenge. Greater fiscal discipline through results-based budgeting, austerity, and alternative revenue sources like a provincial sales tax are all part of the discussion. Every dollar of revenue - including the Tourism Levy - and every expense will be scrutinized. Ensuring the Tourism Levy remains dedicated to tourism marketing and product development is a top priority for the AHLA. Much work has been done on a new tourism framework that will align Travel Alberta, Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation, the Strategic Tourism Marketing Council (STMC)

by Dave Kaiser

and industry behind a shared vision. We expect to see recommendations that will enhance STMC’s relevance and effectiveness as part of the new framework. Dr. Richard Starke, the new Minister of Tourism, Parks and Recreation, will undoubtedly have input and will ultimately be responsible for all major changes to Alberta’s tourism strategy going forward. Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk was appointed Minister of Enterprise and Advanced Education. This department is critical to our industry as it funds post secondary institutions and is responsible for labour and immigration. Given the Minister’s past experience with labour and immigration, we are optimistic that the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) will continue to be responsive and accessible for our industry. Bill Robinson, the new President and CEO of the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, has created a new stakeholder advisory

committee to provide input on strategy and policy. The people and topics of discussion at the first meeting were very different from meetings the AHLA has attended in the past. Based on the discussion, I believe we will see a more entrepreneurial and growth oriented direction for gaming and liquor, balanced with social responsibility, in Alberta in the future. It is vital that our industry has the opportunity to provide input on strategies and policies. I can assure you that the AHLA has and will continue to engage with government to support our members and strengthen Alberta’s tourism and hospitality industry. We look forward to serving you!

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In-Room Entertainment Changing Expectations by Carol Schram

Not so long ago, hotel entertainment was simple stuff. For the most part, travellers were content with having access to basic TV channels, a 24-hour news channel, and a variety of pay movie options.

Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Calgary

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In-Room Entertainment


hese days, different types of properties are coping with a wide range of challenges when it comes to keeping travellers entertained during the time spent in their rooms. Broadly speaking, the key objective is “better than home.” “Guests are now more interested in streaming their own content from the Internet,” says Grant Erickson, director of sales and marketing at the Delta Calgary South Hotel. “This gives them the full flexibility to watch what they want, when they want. The quality of everyone’s experience at home has improved so drastically in the last 10 years that they expect something similar in a hotel: fast Internet, big TV, HD programming, and connectivity for their devices.” Guests are now travelling with portable entertainment units like laptops, tablets, and smartphones that house movies, music, games, and access to streaming services like Netflix. At the very least, they want to be able to easily link their devices into the hotel’s system and enjoy their entertainment on the flat-screen TV or in-room audio player, just like they do at home.


Courtesy of Delta Hotels

Guests are now more interested in streaming their own content from the Internet.

alberta hospitality | 7

In-Room Entertainment

Delta Hotels are accommodating their guests’ wishes with an extensive room redesign, called ModeRoom™. As Erickson explains, “This new design provides spaces that are modern, adaptable, and laden with technology features including the SmartDesk™, a fully-wired, multipurpose area that provides guests with a clutter-free space, built-in power and a connectivity dock that easily links your laptop and mobile devices to the flat screen high definition TV.”

Photo courtesy of Delta Hotels


In-room televisions are also on their way to becoming central communication portals in many properties.

All Eyes on the Internet Hotels across the spectrum are making improvements to provide the connectivity technological devices require. Delta Hotels claim to offer the fastest Wi-Fi of any hotel chain in Canada, and as director of operations Cole Millen of the Delta Lodge at Kananaskis clarifies, wired broadband alone is no longer enough. Other “With the adoption of smartphones, tablets, and laptops, more and more guests now require Wi-Fi.” Marriott In the past year, properties from the Super 8 Hotel Edmonton South to Western Whistler’s Inn inBest Jasper have also made improvements to their Internet speed and connectivity throughout their facilities. TV is Key


Hilton The centrepiece of every in-room entertainment system is its television. These days, TVs are bigger, flatter, sharper, and usually offer channels in high definition. “Entertainment is not our highest priority, since it’s not generally a major reason why guests choose to stay with us,” explains Vanessa Hugie, general manager of Whistler’s Inn in scenic Jasper. Nevertheless, changing expectations can’t be ignored. The property plans to finish upgrading all of its rooms to plasma flatscreen TVs in the near future. At the Super 8 Hotel Edmonton South, television upgrades are expected to be complete by the end of this year. At the Hyatt Regency Calgary, 37 inch LCD televisions have been standard for a couple of years, so the attention is being turned to programming. “People are now accustomed to seeing things at home in hi-def, so last year we upgraded most of our channels to HD,” describes Bryan Flood, the property’s director of rooms. 8 | alberta hospitality

Now every room can have a great view. Give your guests an unforgettable stay with Bell TV. They’ll get stunning HD picture quality that is up to 10x better than regular cable in every room. And you’ll get flexible solutions, such as a customized programming guide with more than 100 HD channels to choose from. Couple that with personalized hotel channels that advertise your services and your experience will be five star, too. Visit or call 1 877 543-2069.

In-Room Entertainment

Hi-Tech Wellness Solutions

Future Focus

The Hyatt Regency Calgary has also augmented their 24-hour fitness centre with new fitness options offered through their in-room pay-perview system. “It’s similar to the way you would order a movie,” shares Flood. “There are workout programs and yoga programs that you can view directly from your TV and do right in your guestroom. We have yoga mats available that can be delivered to your room as well as some small hand weights, jump ropes, resistance bands, and things like that. A lot of travellers like to have the privacy of their own room, and if you’re choosing to do something like yoga, it’s a bit of a better atmosphere.”

In-room televisions are also on their way to becoming central communication portals in many properties. Customized programming and promotional channels are common, and TVs have become more interactive, allowing guests to order room service, book spa or golf times, or complete their checkout simply by using the in-room remote.

The Technological View Andrew Chelbus is the senior national sales manager for the business solutions division (hospitality) for LG Electronics Canada. He agrees that hotels are generally looking to provide the “better than home” feeling. Key features on wish lists include sleek designs and functionality for all possible uses and environments. “Whether the hotel wants to use cable, video on demand (VOD), or satellite, the TV needs to be able to be installed seamlessly and adapt to any future technology,” explains Chelbus. In terms of television offerings, demand for pay-per-view movies and games from traditional industry providers is on the decline. Video on demand from cable and satellite providers can provide a viable option that allows the property more pricing flexibility, while customer expectations continue to grow for more cable channels and more high definition. Advances in green technology mean televisions with environmentally-friendly footprints are being introduced, and 3D TV is just around the corner.

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In addition to interactive television, handheld devices will also play a big role in the future. Some properties now provide their own smartphones or tablets to guests upon check-in, with apps that can help to control room features, provide information, and facilitate communication. Another possibility could be integrating a hotel’s custom app into a guest’s own personal device, so they can use their phone as a room key and also control everything from blinds to the thermostat, lights, and television as well as provide direct connection to the front desk and the property’s other services. Down the road, “I would expect to see more services offered through tablets and smartphones, coupled with more interactive features on the television,” projects Millen. Erickson predicts, “It will become standard to offer full HD programming, 42 inch TV or larger, and the ability for guests to choose the programming at their convenience and hook up any device easily to view their own programming.” With technology having evolved so rapidly over the last few years, it’s not easy to stay ahead of the curve. Check with your suppliers about technological advances so you can incorporate them into future upgrades.

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Glacier Skywalk

No visit to Alberta’s Rockies would be complete without a drive along the spectacular Icefields Parkway. Astride the Continental Divide, the 325 km² Columbia Icefield is surrounded by some of the highest mountains in the Canadian Rockies. It feeds eight major glaciers, including the famous Athabasca Glacier, and its meltwater feeds rivers and streams that empty into the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Indeed, a view of the entire Columbia Icefield necessitates a helicopter and a fat wallet, so the vast majority of visitors enjoy glimpses of several glaciers from the scenic Icefields Parkway and a stop at the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre, which faces the Athabasca Glacier. Though the Athabasca Glacier has receded dramatically since 1844, during summer months visitors can travel onto the ancient ice on “Ice Explorers” - 56-passenger Terra Buses specially designed with six extralarge, low pressure tires to travel on snow or ice with minimal damage to the glacier. Soon there will be an exciting new way to take a look at this spectacular natural scenery. 6.5 km north of the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre a new attraction called the Glacier Skywalk is scheduled to be completed in September.

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by Debbie Minke

Brewster Travel Canada is developing this stunning world-class, fully accessible unique viewing experience in Jasper National Park, which will provide an immersive, interpretive guided experience for visitors. The Glacier Skywalk consists of a 400 metre interpretive boardwalk and a glass-floored observation platform. Visitors will arrive at the site via a free shuttle bus ride from the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre. From there, they will have the option to observe the stunning landscape from the free public viewpoint or to purchase an admission ticket for an interpretive walk along The Discovery Trail that leads to the breathtaking views of The Discovery Vista. The Discovery Trail is a guided interpretive stroll along a 400 metre walkway, overlooking the Sunwapta Canyon, which contains interpretive stations highlighting the ecology, geology, glaciology, aboriginal history, and social history of the area. It leads to the Discovery Vista, the glass-floored observation platform that extends 30 metres over the Sunwapta Valley, offering a unique opportunity to engage with the dramatic landscape.

Brewster is working closely with Parks Canada to ensure environmental stewardship and preserve the ecological integrity of the area. Since the location is already a public viewpoint along the highway (Tangle Ridge), environmental impacts are expected to be minimal. The combination of the Glacier Skywalk with the existing Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre and Glacier Adventure will create a collection of visitor experiences along the Icefields Parkway that will serve as a draw for local, regional and international visitors. Persons of all ages and mobility challenges will be able to experience the Glacier Skywalk, one of the few opportunities for a barrier-free wilderness experience in the mountain national parks. The Walk’s architectural design won the prestigious Future Projects Competition by the World Architecture Festival, and has been described as “enhancing rather than shrinking from the epic landscape.”

For more information, please call 1.888.824.6211 or visit

alberta hospitality | 13


Alberta Properties Find Their

Perfect Niche by Joanne Sasvari

When Bellstar Hotels & Resorts’ Canmore properties decided to support local ski-cross star Brady Leman, they created a special fundraising accommodation package and figured it would appeal to a small niche of passionate skiers. They were wrong.

Photo courtesy of Travel Alberta

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Alberta Properties Find Their Perfect Niche


t’s really almost anyone. We thought it would be the skier, but it’s not,” says a delighted Ralf Strub, the company’s president and chief operating officer. “It was definitely designed for people that were interested in sport, but it has gone way further. It’s working fantastically.” Strub adds, “That’s the way niche marketing is going. If it’s really right for a group of people, then you hit the nail on the head and it just goes.” There was a time when a property could attract new business just by putting nice sheets on the beds and fancy amenities in the bathrooms. These days, that’s the minimum guests expect. Consumers are savvier, better travelled and more value-conscious than ever before. They also have much higher expectations. As Lori Cote, the Western Mountain regional director of public relations for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, notes, “People are looking for experiences.” That’s where niche marketing comes in.

Selecting a Niche

There are all sorts of niches, and all sorts of ways hotels, inns, resorts, and B&Bs cater to them. It could be as simple as offering a pet-friendly room and doggie treats to guests

who like to travel with their four-legged companions. It could mean providing reserved parking, cleaning stations, and complimentary lip balm for motorcycle travellers, the way North America’s Best Western hotels do. Or it could mean creating special programs for guests, such as outdoor adventures, culinary classes, or creative experiences. The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, for instance, offers a variety of packages including the opportunity to interact with an artist in residence or to take part in an eco-hiking adventure to beautiful Sunshine Meadows. “One package isn’t going to speak to everybody,” Cote notes. “The artist-inresidence speaks to a really niche market, and is very different from the eco package we’re offering, which is more family friendly. It’s taking the experiences that are available in the destination and tying them into the resort.” After all, she points out, getting people involved in the destination “goes to the heart of why people come to these resorts.” Strub agrees. “It’s not about the hotel by itself. We are part of the destination and the stronger the destination performs, the better we will all perform,” he explains. “This business is not a one-property game. It’s a destination game.”

Brady Leman photo courtesy of Bellstar Resorts

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Alberta Properties Find Their Perfect Niche

Niche marketing is also a way to connect guests with the community they’re visiting. In Canmore, Bellstar’s Solara Resort & Spa is home to the only theatre in town, so locals and guests can connect through their love of cinema. As a result, Strub says, “We can include community and we can share the community with the guests.” Creating an Experience

What it comes down to is the importance of experiences; after all, the better the experience, the more likely guests are to come back. “People want to take home more,” Strub describes. “They’re looking for some depth in where they’re going. They’re looking at creating memories, for sure.” The key to developing a niche market, according to Cote, is understanding that people want a program designed around them. She suggests looking carefully at your customers, their demographics, and their interests, then figuring out a way to make it easy for them to get the most out of their experiences. Cash In on the Benefits

If you make the effort, the returns can be phenomenal. For one thing, appealing to niche markets can fill rooms during the slower times of year. At Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts, for instance, creating crosscountry and downhill ski packages saw most of the three resorts’ rooms occupied even in the doldrums of February. Meanwhile, Elkwater Lake Lodge and Resort created real excitement in the usually sleepy winter months with its popular geocaching snowshoeing tours in Cypress Hills Provincial Park. It can also attract a lucrative customer base that may otherwise be underserved, which is why Fairmont is looking keenly at the motorcycle traveller, who tends to be a freewheeling baby boomer with a love of adventure and money to spend. “We see a lot more of that kind of traffic, especially when you have a drive like the Icefield Parkway,” Cote notes. The resorts are looking at creating food and wine packages, hiking adventures, and special tours for this segment of the market. “It’s speaking to how you can have this amazing journey, and how you can tie in these iconic attractions along the way.”

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It’s taking the experiences that are available in the destination and tying them into the resort.

Boost your PR

Niche marketing can also create a huge spin-off in public relations benefits. Just ask Chris Williams, the innkeeper at Mount Engadine Lodge in Canmore. Six years ago, the inn organized a concert called “Music in the Meadow” for its music-loving guests. It has since evolved into a whole series of concerts featuring dozens of acts, including several Juno Award nominees or winners. Last year, several of the performers recorded a CD of original songs called “The Engadine Sessions: Come to the Mountain”. They promoted the CD on a concert tour throughout Alberta; even better, the CD has been heavily featured on both CKUA and CBC Radio. “This niche market has resulted in winter bookings for 2013 being up over 30% on the books over last year with a large percentage of that due to the ongoing exposure of the music and the CD,” Williams says. “This summer’s concerts are almost 75% full already, and we continue to get airplay on CBC and CKUA. Every time they mention the CD, Mount Engadine Lodge gets some more great PR!” Bellstar has experienced a similar result with its Brady Leman package over the past two years. In the accommodation price, they include signed memorabilia, a welcome letter from Leman and, if he’s training in the area, a chance to meet with the athlete. A percentage of the proceeds returns to Leman, to help him get to competitions like the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. “It’s really personal attachment to a local athlete,” Strub describes. “It’s connecting with a Canadian athlete and also participating in activities with him in the area.” The result of this package has been phenomenal, far greater than anyone expected. So far, Leman has received far more money than he had requested. Revenue and bookings are up at the resorts too. While Bellstar has seen no drop in its regular ski packages, the Brady Leman package has just exploded. “It’s significant,” Strub says. “It’s win-win-win.”


Driving Tourism for Alberta

by Bruce Okabe

Travel Alberta is pleased to release our fourth strategic business and marketing plan since becoming a Crown corporation in April of 2009. Our strategic roadmap has been clear and consistent since 2009 and we are focused on inspiring the world to stay in our destinations and experience all Alberta has to offer. For 2013-2016, Travel Alberta’s actions and activities will continue to support the following objectives outlined in our strategic plan: 1. Bring the Brand to Life 2. Defend and Grow the Business 3. Mobilize Industry Stakeholders 4. Drive Organizational Excellence The tourism industry in Alberta is building momentum. For three straight years, Tourism Levy revenue has grown more than 10% per year (2010 to 2012). We expect total visitation to increase approximately 5% and expenditures to increase 6.8% or about $530 million between 2011 and 2013. This is significant progress for Alberta and the foundation for our marketing approach in 2013-2014. In 2012, many Alberta tourism operators experienced their best year since the global recession in 2008. According to Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation, the indicators look good with increases in provincial hotel occupancy and average daily room rate revenue up 3.7% and 5.4% respectively compared to the same period in 2011; traffic increases of approximately 7% at both Edmonton and Calgary international airports year-to-date; historic site and museum visits up 7.2% in 2012; and employment in the accommodation, food and beverage sector increased 5.2% in December 2012, compared to December 2011. Destinations around the world are beginning to understand that tourism provides a direct benefit to their economy and everyone is vying for marketshare. In an age of hyper-messaging, the customer is overwhelmed with travel choices. Travel Alberta’s job is to identify markets with great potential, inspire travellers with compelling invitations, and make it easy to purchase an Alberta experience. Economically, we are starting to see recovery in the US - our largest source of non-domestic tourism. Eurozone issues remain in Europe, which hinder our efforts in the UK and Germany in the short term. We are also keeping a watchful eye on Japan and monitoring its economic and currency strategy. Our work continues with high hopes for a direct flight from China into Alberta in 2013-2014. Since 2009, Alberta has seen growth in annual airline seat capacity of 2.2%. Air access is critical to our future tourism growth and Travel Alberta’s efforts have paid off with increased air access from the Netherlands, Japan, and Germany. Albertans travelling in Alberta make up approximately 63% of tourism expenditures for our province, and we are at risk to losing these travellers to our competition. Reminding Albertans about experiences in their own backyard is critical to the success of our Canada marketing strategy. We are committed to developing strong partnerships with Alberta operators to strengthen their marketing efforts and connect customers to the experiences they have to offer. We are making an impact on Albertans with (remember to breathe) - a simple and powerful statement about our destination, both for residents and visitors. This is an emotive selling proposition that shares deeply personal and intensely emotional Alberta moments with our customers.

We will continue to capture imagery and stories from all corners of the province to build on our brand promise of goosebump moments for travellers. Incremental revenue for the province will come from activities in targeted core and emerging international travel markets. Travel Alberta partners with the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) in our key international markets to maximize marketing efforts and leverage the influence of Canada’s brand. It’s clear that revenue gains will be more difficult to achieve with our competitors - like Destination BC and Brand USA - gunning for Alberta’s marketshare. We need to keep Albertans travelling in Alberta, while at the same time, bringing new dollars into the economy by inspiring international travellers to choose Alberta as their vacation destination. Against this backdrop, the CTC faces significant budget challenges; as Canada’s global presence continues to drop, so will Alberta’s. The good news is that our business and marketing strategies are strong and Alberta’s tourism industry is resilient. Travel Alberta will boost (instead of stand behind) the hospitality industry and our tourism operators in their marketing efforts for 2013-2014 with $7.3 million of co-operative marketing dollars available to Alberta-based marketing partnerships and travel deals populated on using the Alberta Tourism Information Service (ATIS) platform. If we collaborate and work together as TEAM ALBERTA we can withstand the challenges the future has in store. Travel Alberta’s 2013-2016 business and marketing strategy is available online at alberta hospitality | 17

KEEPING STUDENTS SAFE by Barbara Malacko A strong orientation program will: • • • • • • • •

Provide job-specific safety training before any work is assigned; Teach emergency procedures before any work is assigned; Pair young workers with experienced, safety-conscious workers; Ensure that everyone follows the safety rules; Instruct staff regarding how to report unsafe conditions or health hazards; Explain why it’s important to report a hazard or injury immediately; Reward workers who make workplace health and safety a priority; and Showcase the trainer - leading by example - wearing protective equipment and demonstrating safe work habits.

Additional Safety Training Providing a proper orientation is one key element to helping a young worker remain injury free. Other factors include adequate training, supervision, reinforcement, and an open line of communication for any questions they may have. Remember, a young worker may not be comfortable asking questions (they want to impress you), so be sure that the new employee can answer each of the following questions:

Are you ready to hire your summer students? What can you improve on from last year? Hiring summer students goes beyond the interview process and surviving a summer with as little absenteeism as possible. It also involves seriously considering the risk of a student sustaining an injury during his employment with you and what steps you can take to reduce the risk of a workplace incident.

1. Who should I go to if I have a safety question? 2. What are the risks and dangers of my job? 3. When is my safety training? 4. What safety equipment should I use? 5. What do I do if there is a fire or emergency? 6. Who should I go to if I am hurt at work? Top Training Techniques

Hotel workers aged 15-24 years accounted for 23.8% of lost time claims in 2012. The reasons for this high percentage of injuries include:

75 %

Practice by doing


Discussion Group

• Over 50% of young workers reported they had not received training before starting a new task. • Young workers tend not to ask questions. • They lack an understanding of their rights as workers. • They’ve been given more dangerous jobs than they are qualified for. • Youth feel invincible. • They’re distracted at work. • The fast pace of work. Many of these issues are within your control.









Orientation Clear communication through an orientation program, will help new workers understand how to carry out the tasks within each job. It will reduce their need for improvising on the job, and can reduce their level of frustration from not understanding. 18 | alberta hospitality

Resources to get you started can be found at: • • • •

The Alberta Hotel Safety Association website at, or email

Barbara Malacko is Executive Director of the Alberta Hotel Safety Association and can be reached at 780-702-3059 ext. 254, 1-800-649-1242 or


Recognizing Excellence – Inviting Success alberta hospitality | 19


Wagon Wheel Motel Western Hospitality at its Best by Terri Perrin


ravellers and business people in central Alberta can find a ‘home away from home’ at the Wagon Wheel Motel in Killam. The 18-unit, two suite, one-story motel has been a fixture in this small town of 1,000 people since 1964. It has been owned and operated by Jim and Adele Clark since 1991. Both Adele and Jim were born and raised in Killam, and they wanted to be able to raise their children in the community they loved. Adele had previously worked at a bank, and when her children were young, she gained management experience by managing a seniors’ apartment building. Jim is a journeyman electrician, and in addition to helping run the motel, he owns and operates Banjo Electric Ltd. “My father-in-law was an entrepreneur and my father is a farmer,” explains Adele. “Since both of our families have run businesses, Jim and I were familiar with what it was like to run a small business. When the Wagon Wheel Motel went into foreclosure in 1990, Jim’s father encouraged us to consider it as an investment. Since it was so run down at the time, we were able to negotiate a great price on the property. We started

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extensive renovations as soon as we took possession. It helped that Jim is an electrician and a great handyman. We also had a lot of help from family and friends.” The Wagon Wheel Motel is comprised of a main house, where the Clarks live full time, the original 18-unit motel that was built in the 1960s, and a two-suite building that was moved onto the property four years ago. Both suites in the new building are about 900 sq. ft. with full kitchens; one has two bedrooms and one bath and the other has two bedrooms and two baths.

This small but successful enterprise is the epitome of a family-run operation. All three of the Clark children (now grown) have worked at the motel over the years. Adele’s mother, Diane Kelndorfer, has been part of the team since day one, and Jim’s sister, Carole Bergum, works Owners Jim and Adele Clark there too. While not relatives, other employees are treated with the same respect as family and are considered to be integral members of the team. Killam is located in the heart of oil and gas country, about 45 minutes west of Camrose. As a result, most of the Wagon Wheel’s guests are oilfield and construction workers. During the fall hunting season, duck and goose hunters come up from the US to stay at the motel. It is also a popular place for people coming to Killam to attend weddings, family reunions, and other special events. The ambiance of the Wagon Wheel Motel is enhanced in that each room is unique, and the Clarks have made an effort to make every unit’s décor very homey. In fitting with the motel’s name, one room even has a western theme. “It was relatively easy to make each room look different,” notes Adele. “The motel was built in several phases over the past 50 years, so all of the units are differently shaped to start with!” Strict attention to cleanliness, motel maintenance, and guest comfort are some of the reasons that customers keep coming back to the Wagon Wheel. Adele is proud to say that they have been honoured with three Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) housekeeping awards; in 2008, 2011, and 2013. “AHLA inspectors always comment on our attention to detail and how, when a problem is identified, we see that it is dealt with immediately,” explains Adele. “I have excellent employees who are very loyal and do an exceptional job with everything from customer service to housekeeping. We do our best to ensure that this is a good place to work. I firmly believe that employees who are content and confident that they are appreciated will always do a better job. We all work as a team and when anyone provides feedback or suggestions, we listen and act on it as soon as possible. When it comes to housekeeping, the girls work in pairs. I think it really helps that they can work together because cleaning can be a monotonous job. They trade off parts of the job to change things up.” Adele adds that she also makes an effort to use cleaning products that are environmentally safe, not just for the environment and the guests, but for her staff. “We also put in very high quality beds,” concludes Adele, “because we recognize that we are not selling motel rooms, we are selling sleep.”

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Canadian travel intentions by Hotel Association of Canada

Social Media Popularity Rises

The latest results from the 2013 HAC Canadian Travel Intentions Survey show that business and leisure travel is projected to be up 2% in 2013. 82% of business travellers said they would be doing more or the same amount of business travel in Canada in 2013 as they did in 2012. 84% of leisure travellers said they will be travelling more or the same for vacations this year.

Since 2009, the Internet has been the most popular way for people to make their hotel reservations. 59% of leisure and 62% of business travellers only use the Internet to make their reservations. When asked about where they gathered information for their last trip, 73% of leisure and 61% of business travellers said the Internet. Almost double the number of business travellers (15%) said they used social media sites to get travel information, compared to only 8% in 2011.

While leisure travel has increased slightly, overall 34% of respondents from BC said they would be travelling more for leisure, 11% more than the national average. Respondents in the Prairies were the most uncertain regarding leisure travel with 17% indicating they will travel less than last year and 8% stating they don’t know what their leisure travel plans are for 2013. Of those who said they would be travelling less for leisure in 2013, 31% said they were doing so because of financial difficulties, while the cost of airfare was also identified as a leading reason for travelling less. Business travellers who said they would be travelling less said the number one reason for doing so is the cost of airfare in Canada (34%), followed by the use of tele/video conferencing (23%). BC (48%) and Ontario (36%) business travellers also cite the cost of airfare as a reason for travelling less in 2013. These two provinces lead the country for the number of travellers going to the US to buy less expensive airline tickets.

The top five things leisure travellers are looking for on the Internet are photos, maps, specials, amenities, and guest ratings. Topping the list for business travellers is directions, photos, amenities, specials, and shopping for rates. Of all the things that can influence leisure and business travellers accommodation choices, star and diamond ratings top the list at 74% for leisure and 76% for business travellers. On the business side, the influence of travel blogs is up significantly over last year’s numbers, with 18% saying they had influence on their accommodation choices in 2012, and 31% in 2013. The influence of social media has doubled over last year’s numbers from 12% in 2012 to 24% in 2013. Smartphone Usage Almost 60% of travellers use smartphones when they travel. This year the survey asked that group what they used their smartphones for while travelling. The majority (41%) uses them to check the weather as well as departure and arrival times (29%), which is similar to 2012. 38% said they use GPS and/or get directions on their smartphones, an increase of 6% since 2011. Of those that book their travel via smartphones, 39% said they intend to use it more in 2013, and 45% said they would use their smartphones the same amount as in 2012. Facebook continues to be popular. 24% of travellers (similar to 2012) said they use their smartphones to check their messages and update their status on Facebook. 11% book hotels and 15% book air, train, or bus tickets on their smartphones, up 8% over 2012 figures. Travellers were asked what they would like to see included in a hotel mobile app. The top five answers continue to be finding a hotel’s location, booking a hotel room, checking a reservation, calling for reservation support/customer service, and linking to a hotel’s full website. “In 2012 the greatest percentage of travellers calling for these types of hotel mobile apps was in the 25-34 age range, but the 35-44 age range has surpassed them in our 2013 survey. As all age groups embrace the app technology, hotels have the opportunity to develop something that meets the needs of a growing market of travellers,” noted Anthony Pollard, HAC President. Environment Remains Important 44% of business travellers (up 8% from 2009) said environmental initiatives such as water recycling and energy efficiency, are important to them. 36% of leisure and business travellers said it is important for hotels to have green products. 26% of leisure travellers and business travellers said a hotel with an environmental certification program is important to them. 20% of business travellers and leisure travellers said the ability to purchase carbon credits is very important. 49% of travellers said they would pay $1 or more in carbon credits to offset their stay at a property, up 5% over last year.

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Protecting Cardholder Data by Chase Paymentech Maintain an Information Security Policy 12. Maintain a policy that addresses information security

Educational documents are available at Find more information about these 12 requirements, the Self-Assessment Questionnaires (SAQ), for merchants to assess their cardholder environment, and PCI-validated payment terminals and software at this website. You may also want to review the “Prioritized Approach” and download the tool, which provides a roadmap to prioritize efforts for merchants who are working towards achieving compliance. Providing customers with secure payment options not only provides more incentives to buy, but it is also the merchant’s responsibility. In fact, failure to protect cardholder data could result in fines from the card brands as well as remediation costs in the event of cardholder data loss. This is in addition to loss of business and damage done to your brand reputation.

*Please note: The information in this Quick Tips article is provided “as is” and “as available” for general information purposes only. Chase Paymentech Solutions does not in any way guarantee protection against fraud, chargebacks or other similar activities. ™Trademark of Chase Paymentech Solutions, LLC, Chase Paymentech Solutions authorized user. All other trademarks, registered trademarks, product names and logos identified or mentioned herein are the property of Chase Paymentech Solutions, LLC, or their respective owners.

How Can Merchants Protect Customer Cardholder Data? The PCI Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) is a set of common industry security requirements meant to help provide merchants with a single path to safeguarding sensitive data. The PCI DSS is comprised of 6 broad areas of security in 12 requirement categories, covering the technology as well as the process used by the staff involved in payment processing. Below are short descriptions of each:

Build and Maintain a Secure Network 1. Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect data 2. Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and security parameters Protect Cardholder Data 3. Protect stored data 4. Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across public networks Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program 5. Use and regularly update anti-virus software 6. Develop and maintain secure systems and applications Implement Strong Access Control Measures 7. Restrict access to data by business need-to-know 8. Assign a unique ID to each person with computer access 9. Restrict physical access to cardholder data Regularly Monitor and Test Networks 10. Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data 11. Regularly test security systems and processes alberta hospitality | 23



A Fearsome Foe by Leonard Polsky

“All saints can do miracles, but few of them can keep a hotel,” said Mark Twain. If saints can’t keep a hotel, who can?

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raudulent incidents and practices plague hotel owners and operators including theft of food and beverages; misappropriation of revenue; decreased profit; less advantageous contract terms; loss of asset condition; and inflated supplier expenses. It is an unfortunate truth that properties routinely lose revenue to deceptive clients, suppliers and employees. To stem the tide, without saintly intervention, a more earthly approach and advance planning are needed.

What Is Fraud? Fraud is available in two flavours: fraudulent incidents and fraudulent practices. Fraudulent incidents encompass a wide variety of dishonest actions. The perpetrator plots to obtain money or other benefits from a hotel or restaurant. These acts are normally criminal in nature and amount to premeditated theft. Examples include misappropriation or falsification of records at point of sale, and theft by employees, such as cash fraud for vacant rooms. Fraudulent practices are more subtle. These are practices that demonstrate poor judgment, but there is an absence of dishonesty or deception. Sometime employees consider these a “perk of the job�.


It is an unfortunate truth that properties routinely lose revenue to deceptive clients, suppliers, and employees.

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What Can You Do? The legal remedies available to hotel owners and operators also fall into two categories: criminal and civil. In the case of fraud by an employee, the first step is to investigate internally when fraud is suspected. The investigator will consult with the employer, with or without police involvement. Following a disciplinary investigation, the employer may decide to terminate the responsible individual. Before doing this, consider whether doing so might trigger a wrongful dismissal action, especially if the employee disputes the allegation and feels compelled to “clear his name”. If there is inadequate proof of wrongdoing, but the employer remains uncomfortable, a termination without alleging cause may be appropriate. It is important not to jump to conclusions. To illustrate, in Moyen v. D.D. Investments Inc. an experienced bartender with 20 years in the hospitality industry used a manager’s swipe card to write off a $15.00 charge that

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Segregation of front of house duties and bank reconciliation is a must.

had inadvertently not been charged to a large party, and to discount the purchase of one beer to an off-duty company employee. The employer terminated the bartender, alleging that he had failed to follow company policies and procedures and for breach of trust. There was no police involvement. The employer had a practice of leaving managers’ swipe cards with employees, but required them to seek management’s approval before or after their use. In this instance, the court confirmed that the bartender had forgotten to seek approval for the write-off, but concluded that he made no effort to conceal what he had done or to defraud his employer. He did not gain any benefit from writing off the purchase or issuing the discount.

The court felt it was unfair to dismiss someone for what amounted to poor judgment and described the theft characterization as “completely and utterly inaccurate”. It did not help the employer’s cause that the practice was a regular occurrence. The court also chastised the employer for failing to investigate the incident properly and the high-handed approach it took in dismissing the employee, when his employment contract provided for a lesser penalty, simply docking the write-off from the bartender’s pay cheque. The court ordered the employer to pay the bartender’s lost income for the time he was unemployed following his termination, and said that punitive damages would have been awarded as well had the employee sought them.


Calling the Police There is no duty to report alleged criminal activity to the police, but if the alleged wrongdoing is serious, reporting may be wise as well as necessary for insurance purposes. If management chooses to involve the police and a criminal conviction follows, the employee is less likely to sue for wrongful dismissal, because the employer can use the results of the criminal trial in the ensuing civil lawsuit. This may be especially useful in situations where the employer hopes to recoup losses from the employee for the fraud perpetrated. As with all litigation, management needs to weigh the cost of proceeding to a civil trial against the ability of the employee, supplier, or customer to pay the judgment. It will be unproductive to seek restitution if the perpetrator is insolvent. For example, in R. v. Gallo the accused was caught making a hotel reservation with a stolen credit card. Mr. Gallo was charged with five counts of fraud and possession of stolen credit cards and personal banking information. He was allegedly involved in a sophisticated computer hacking and social engineering scheme in which he gathered personal information in relation to roughly 50 people. This resulted in a loss of $70,000 to the bank and its customers. The police were investigating him from a prior incident that involved confiscating a bag full of stolen credit cards and identification information. In this situation, the parties defrauded by Mr. Gallo would have been wise to follow his criminal trial. The fact that he posted cash bail of $10,000 suggests that he was far from insolvent and may well have been able to pay restitution, presumably without having to rely on cash advances. In the case of R. v. J.G.S., the accused was charged with a number of offences including using stolen credit cards to make reservations at two hotels. Both hotels provided victim’s statements to the police after detecting the fraud. The perpetrator was apprehended and sentenced to five months in jail. In addition, the court ordered him to pay compensation to the two hotels.

Other Options You can also seek retribution from wrongdoers by suing for theft, fraud, misrepresentation, overcharging for goods, breach of good faith and fair dealings as well as other causes. Apart from the financial costs, many properties are reluctant to bring a lawsuit due to the public nature of our legal system. Once a lawsuit is started, all court filings are accessible to the public. It may not reflect well on the image or brand of a hotel to have its confidential business affairs revealed to the public. No business wants to make the front page by drawing attention to mismanagement or untrustworthy personnel. For these reasons, hotel owners and operators often consider resolving their disputes by means of mediation or arbitration. Privacy and expediency often make these better alternatives to public, costly and lengthy court trials.

Prevention Whether a property chooses to deal with fraud internally, criminally or civilly, the best method is, of course, prevention. alberta hospitality | 27


• Management should implement monitoring policies to ensure that hotel personnel are adhering to proper procedures. • Refunds and credits should be reviewed daily. • Insurance can be purchased to protect against the fallout of cyber-crime. • Controls and procedures should be updated to meet the current challenges of the industry and evolving technology. • Management agreements should be reviewed to reduce opportunities for wrongdoing and increase means of detecting fraud. High turnover and failure of operators to properly explain employee responsibilities are among the principal reasons fraud occurs or is not detected. Putting the following best practices in place will protect your company from fraud: • Segregation of front of house duties and bank reconciliation is a must. • Staff should be trained to detect fraud by guests, employees and suppliers.

By maintaining up-to-date information and clearly understanding hotel policies, duties and responsibilities, hotel owners and operators will have the necessary tools to minimize exposure and bring a successful lawsuit if needed, be it to challenge a fraudster on a shop floor or in the boardroom. Leonard Polsky is a lawyer practicing in the areas of commercial litigation and employment law in Calgary.

Fraudulent Booking Site Be aware of a potentially fraudulent booking site called Guests have received email confirmation of their hotel booking and been charged via the site only to find out, upon arrival, that nothing has been reserved on their behalf and there is no way to contact people at the website.


Marketing Tips Past Issues Editorial Schedule Advertising Rates 28 | alberta hospitality

Travel Trends in 2013 by Ann Mack Here’s a forecast of key travel trends that will drive or significantly impact travellers’ mindsets and behaviours this year. Fitness on the Go - With travellers looking for more ways to work out while on the road, the hospitality industry is providing new options. Hotels are supplementing the basic gym with fitness classes, designing guestrooms to accommodate people doing yoga or cardio, or providing on-demand workout videos. Airports are also helping travellers squeeze in some exercise during layovers. Live-Streaming - Life memories will be live-streamed in real time. The newest super-compact video camera from GoPro is 30% smaller and 25% lighter than its predecessors - a big selling point for the skiers, divers, and other extreme sports enthusiasts who love to document their exploits and it includes built-in Wi-Fi, enabling live-streaming of footage. Users can also control the camera remotely using a smartphone app. Nature as Antidote - With urbanization rising steadily (today more than half the world’s population lives in cities, compared to less than 40% in 1990), more people will retreat to nature to escape the pressures, noise, pollution, traffic, and other stressors of the city. We’ll also see this urge manifest itself in other ways, from an embrace of natural, organic elements in décor to ever more nature-themed entertainment programming.

Political Vacations - Affluent travellers are seeking new kinds of status trips, as embodied by Political Tours of the UK, which offers clients “current affairs at first hand”. This includes a tour of Northern Ireland led by BBC correspondents and trips to hot spots including Georgia, North Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Ethiopia. Many of these trips are curated by political experts with insights into the region. River Cruising - River cruising is slated to make a splash in the travel industry. In 2012, for instance, British cruise brands Voyages of Discovery and Hebridean Island Cruises both introduced river cruises. Other companies are adding river cruise itineraries worldwide as well as new ships. Set Jetting - New Zealand has seen a 50% spike in tourist visits since The Lord of the Rings debuted in 2001; now The Hobbit is expected to bring even more travellers to the Pacific nation. Long popular among film fanatics, “set jetting” will become more mainstream, especially as more sites start to tout their Hollywood connections. As part of the promotion for 50 years of James Bond films, the stars made appearances at set locations around the UK in 2012. In 2013, Life of Pi (filmed in India) and The Lone Ranger (the American West) are expected to help draw visitors to those filming locales. Shopping - Hotels in Middle Eastern countries including the UAE, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Bahrain, mega malls with hotels in them are fueling a tourism recovery after the Arab Spring of 2011 took its toll. A Sheraton will open in Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates in 2013, and the upcoming Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi will house seven hotels. See how you can incorporate these trends into your offers and packages this year. Ann Mack is the Director of Trendspotting at JWT, the world’s best-known marketing communications brand.

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Hotel Discounters

Are They Helping or Hindering the Industry? by Ronald Lee

Like them or not, hotel discounters are firmly embedded in the travel agency ecosystem. While using discounters can be a significant revenue opportunity for hotels, it also comes at a significant cost.

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otel discounters, also known as online travel agents (OTAs), are travel aggregators - they represent a variety of travel-related services and sell these online through major websites with the perception that they offer better deals on rates than a customer might find anywhere else.

between discounters and hoteliers took a turn for the worse. The single biggest complaint hotels have against discounters is that they take a very large portion of the margins for booking. If both the hotel and the discounter are offering the same rooms at the same price, giving up 20-30% of the booking rate to the discounter is a huge pill to swallow.

“In a competitive environment, distribution is a key to success,” says Dan McGowan, general manager of The Fairmont Palliser in downtown Calgary, “They [OTAs] are a component of today’s distribution opportunities.”

Li continues, “Typically hotels do use them. You really have no choice. You really need to be in the marketing business nowadays… because it’s such an important avenue to get new guests. I think most hotels, bigger hotels, use online booking engines. It’s a relationship between the third parties and the hotel and it’s a good piece of the hotel’s business.”

What’s the Beef with Hotel Discounters? From the discounter’s point of view, they help hotels put heads in beds by: 1) Selling excess unused room inventory. 2) Introducing new guests to the hotel who might never have known about it otherwise. Discounters now have huge networks of users. 3) Packaging services such as flights, car rentals, and hotels all in one place, making irresistible offers to customers.


Hotel discounters are able to command such large commissions and deep discounts because they bring in the volume. They put a lot of resources into their online marketing and search engine optimization (SEO), and are sometimes accused of brand hijacking (i.e. ensuring that their discounter site shows up on Google search results when customers search for the name of the hotel) and thereby stealing the customer.

The single biggest complaint hotels have against discounters is that they take a very large portion of the margins for booking.

4) Offering personalized attention to help sell sudden room availability. This has resulted in hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, of dollars in sales every year paid to hotels by discounters. Dawn Li, general manager of both the Mettera Hotel on Whyte and Varscona Hotel on Whyte in Edmonton remarks, “The opportunities we have with the online OTAs… quite often attract first time guests.… It’s good marketing for us to be out there and be visible to people who may not have thought about our property in the past.” However, to some hoteliers, discounters are like the weird uncle that always embarrasses you at family outings - you don’t like him, but he’s there every year whether you like it or not. It wasn’t always this way. At first hotel discounters seemed like a good idea, with many hotels benefiting from their help (and many still do). But as time went on, the relationship

McGowan speaks further about his strategy with discounters. “These supplier relationships are like any other, and in order for success to be found by either party, those two parties need to understand each other’s needs. Every branded and non-branded hotel should manage their distribution channels and should know what they are willing to accept. We guide all of our guests to, where guests can not only book, but where we can provide our customers… with a greater amount of information about the services and products that we offer.” Others complain that using discounters devalues the hotel brand, or the entire region in general. Customers will always want lower prices if they expect they can get them. Some properties have opted to use opaque sites, which only list a price and don’t reveal the name of the property until the room is booked.

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Package your rooms with other services, so guests don’t see your discounted price.

The Start of Discounting After 9/11 there was a massive inventory of guestrooms available and discounters offered to help hoteliers by blowing out their rooms at incredibly low rates in order to entice people to start travelling again. When they first entered the marketplace, was helping independent hotels differentiate themselves. They have since moved on to become more of a commoditized website, just like all the others, at which point it really just becomes a pricing game - a strategic pricing position. The travel dry spell lasted for about two years, and during this time two things happened that set the tone for the hotelier and hotel discounter relationship today: Firstly, more hotels turned to discounters to distribute their rooms as they became concerned about their bottom lines. Some hotels, particularly smaller ones, gave up marketing altogether and relied on discounters as their sole marketing and distribution channel. Secondly, discounters began to aggressively demand a merchant relationship with hotels. Rather than take a commission on sales, they wanted deeply discounted rock-bottom pricing for groups of rooms that they could mark up. Discounters became so aggressive with their negotiations that some hoteliers labeled them as excessively greedy. Li recounts the early days of discounters: “A long time ago, typically hotels would give third party companies a lower rate than their own websites, but that obviously doesn’t make sense. Now hotels will offer their guests rate parity, so wherever they book it’s going to be the same rate.” There are many accounts of blacklisting and bullying tactics by discounters over the past decade, yet they have firmly planted themselves in the travel agency landscape, with several well-known companies commanding the lion’s share of online transactions. Expedia and Priceline are the top two players in the industry, and new discount sites are starting up every year.

Expedia As the first hotel discounter and currently the largest, Expedia also owns and Based in Bellevue, Washington and operating in 22 countries, it is estimated that Expedia accounts for 44% of the total online travel agency market share with 60-80% of its revenue coming from hotel bookings. Therefore, it is no surprise that they are holding firmly onto the hotel market, as this business generates hundreds of millions of dollars a year. 32 | alberta hospitality


Weaning Off Discounters Following are some suggestions on how your hotel can become less dependent on discounters: •

Spend the money you would have given to hotel discounters on marketing. Increase your marketing budget so you can build your database, promote your brand, and optimize your website. “It depends on how good you are with your SEO,” Li states. “It depends how you’re doing with your Google analytics and positioning. If you’ve got a good company working on your hotel’s SEO, typically your hotel pops up (on Google) first.”

• Ask for price parity - offer the same pricing on your hotel’s website as on the discounter’s site so customers aren’t getting the lowest price elsewhere. Shifting the Balance

• Shift to using discounters less. Aim for allotting only 10% of your inventory to discounters.

Hotel discounters are firmly entrenched in the online travel agency world; however, many hotels are now promoting their own brand websites and taking back some of the online booking business.

• Focus on customer service to get better ratings on review sites such as TripAdvisor in order to increase repeat business.

This is particularly evident with larger hotel brands that focus on the quality of their guests’ experiences and customer service. They understand their unique selling points, so sometimes guests will book on the brand’s website even after visiting a discounter during the course of their research. “We want to treat our guests as uniquely as they are,” McGowan asserts. “Our guests are not a reservation number, they are Mr. Jones or Mr. Smith and it is critically important that we understand them. Again, it’s back to the relationship to, and we offer discounts through Fairmont’s President’s Club to those loyal members.” These branded hotels have worked on their own marketing so that discounters contribute a smaller portion of their revenue. Contrast this with some smaller, independent or struggling hotels that don’t have their own marketing manager and depend on discounters as their main source of bookings.

• Package your rooms with other services, so guests don’t see your discounted price, and only use discounters that don’t openly disclose your prices on their site. • Use a revenue manager to help you maximize your revenue and profits. • Adjust your use of discounters according to seasonal trends. Forecast future demand and don’t discount when you know it will be a busy period. • Don’t start a price war in your city. • Create multiple sources of distribution to achieve your booking goals, so you are not relying on any single channel. Ronald Lee is the Senior Marketing Consultant at Eat Marketing, a restaurant, food and hospitality marketing agency. He also works with Google to offer their premiere Google Business Photos service, and can be found at www.

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US TRAVEL INTENTIONS by David Sheatsley According to the October 2012 travelhorizons™ survey of 2,200 US adults, 48% said they did, indeed, plan to take a leisure trip during the next six months. This marked the first time since March 2007 that leisure travel intentions fell below 50%. October 2012 intentions were down four points from October 2011 (52%) and off seven points from October 2010, when 55% of adults said they planned to take at least one leisure trip during the next six months. Our assessment was that US adults, given the increasing media coverage of the possible “fiscal cliff”, decided to put their travel plans on hold until Congress resolved the looming tax cut issue. Again, according to the October 2012 survey, 23% said that they were “not sure”, when asked about their leisure travel plans for the next six months. This was again, the highest percentage of uncertainty indicated since March 2007. Based on questions asked about the potential impact on leisure travel if the tax cuts were allowed to expire, 46% of all US adults agreed that elimination of the tax cuts would result in their taking fewer leisure trips in the year ahead than this year. And almost two-thirds of these would take “substantially fewer” leisure trips. This translates into an estimated 108 million US adults re-thinking their 2013 leisure travel plans. I was reading an article about the fiscal cliff and one individual who was interviewed said that his weekly paycheque had been reduced by $30. His response was that the reduction meant one less visit to a restaurant for his family. $30 may not seem like much, but families are

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still recovering from the Great Recession and, as such, are watching every penny and how that penny is spent. Since leisure travel falls in the category of discretionary spending, along with jewelry, making home improvements, buying major appliances, etc., it doesn’t take much to swing the financial pendulum from a level of comfort to one of uncertainty. All is not bad news, however, especially as it pertains to hotel guests. Leisure travel intentions, as expected, increase by household income. Here is how leisure travel intentions played out by household income as of October 2012: Under $30,000 = 30% $30,000 - $49,999 = 44% $50,000 - $99,999 = 53% $100,000 and more = 72% Leisure travel intentions declined between October 2011 and October 2012 for all income groups with the exception of those adults living in households with incomes of $100,000 or more, which remained unchanged at 72% from October 2011 to October 2012. David Sheatsley is Vice President of Research at MMGY Global and can be reached directly at 407.838.1871.

Calgary Stampede saw 20% Increase in Attendance by Canadian Tourism Commission The thousands of cowboys and cowgirls who roamed the Parade Grounds at last year’s Calgary Stampede had a global heritage like never before. The 2012 Stampede had a record 1.4 million attendance level for the 10-day Alberta spectacular, up 20% on 2011.

campaigns in Brazil, Germany, South Korea and the UK. Other key stats include an estimated $9.2 million in tourism revenue, $2.8 million in government revenue, of which $1.2 million went to the federal government and support for 71 jobs in Canadian tourism businesses.

The substantial uptick in international visitors was largely fuelled by a one-time funding allocation of $5 million to the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) by the federal government via Canada’s Economic Action Plan in its 2011 budget. The aim was to market the Stampede Centennial in key international tourism markets.

“The Calgary Stampede is a proud member of our Signature Experiences Collection® and the CTC’s one-time funding to promote the Centennial internationally brought a solid return on the government’s investment,” says Greg Klassen, CTC Senior Vice-President of Marketing Strategy and Communications. “The campaigns will live long in the memories of consumers in those markets and have led to strengthened ties for CTC with our travel-trade partners.”

A report published by the CTC reveals some of the initial results from these marketing campaigns. Other main legacies of the work will be cementing the Stampede’s stature as an international must-see event and boosting Alberta’s and Canada’s profile as a destination for global travellers. Both will bring lasting economic rewards to the country as a whole. More than 8,900 travellers booked trips to Canada in the six months leading up to the centennial celebrations as a direct result of CTC’s

CTC worked closely with the Calgary Stampede, Tourism Calgary and Travel Alberta to develop an effective program. The partners used the government funding in four distinct areas: developing marketing assets, direct-to-consumer advertising on TV, radio and online, media relations, and social media promotion plus promotions through tour operators and travel agents.

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Storytelling and Destination Management by Brian White Looking for a competitive advantage to develop and market your destination? Can’t afford a multi-million dollar conference centre? Then an approach that’s gaining ground in the Nordic countries might be of interest to you. In 2010, the Nordic Innovation Centre (, project number 08041) published a paper on storytelling and destination development. They reviewed five cases where storytelling had been used to build long-term integration of community interests and consistent marketing focus through participating in a common story line. The idea was based on the Norse Sagas, and explored the importance stories can play in reaching beyond digitally-based marketing. The intriguing aspect for me was the engagement of customers in the stories. The approach was appealing because of the opportunity for involvement and re-telling of stories, thereby spreading the destination message in an emotionally engaging way. Stories can be built into blogs, websites, Facebook, and Twitter, ensuring that the stories become part of the brand identity. I had the opportunity to see the approach in action when I was teaching in Bonavista, Newfoundland last fall. During my class on cultural tourism development, we visited Elliston, the “Root Cellar Capital of the World”,

Trinity, and Port Union, and heard the stories of these small communities, their dramatic ups and downs, and the residents’ struggle to survive over the past two to three centuries. I was struck by the resonance between the experience of the place, and how the story was reinforced when it was delivered by the outstanding Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism marketing ads on television. At all levels, there’s an emotional link through visual and oral storytelling. I put together a small research project to analyze the key techniques that make storytelling work for destinations. What I found was that in all cases, the first step is to build interpretive capacity (photo and text files) for stories selected to reinforce the destination brand. Story themes need to be developed online, in marketing collateral, and with partner organizations that can interpret the stories and include visitors in them. My main interest was in the development of “storyboarding” - a technique borrowed from the film industry that assembles the concepts, partners, and stories into a matrix that can be used to build individual interpretive events, social media, brand strategies, and effectively targeted messaging. Edmonton is one example where the concept has been put into action - have a look at Here’s a site

WHAT’S NEW? by Debbie Minke Absolute Wi-Fi Solutions (formerly OKWireless) has been actively developing a new, reliable, safe and secure guest Wi-Fi solution since May of 2011. Its innovative, user-friendly applications are available to any and all properties, whether it be hotels, RV resorts, conference centres, or B&Bs. Their system offers many features that help hoteliers and owners view Wi-Fi user statistics and bandwidth usage at their own property. is designed as an engaging, personalized experience for each guest, encouraging guests to spread the word about their upcoming trip - and the selected hotel - at the time of booking and beyond. By seamlessly integrating with the guest’s social networks, the platform is able to convert these social interactions into new bookings and additions to the hotel’s marketing database. With the new multi-language capability, uses the language the customer selects on the hotel’s website and delivers the customized messaging in that language. There is no limit to the number of languages a hotel can select for message translation.

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that draws the viewer into different stories and experiences - and not just within the realm of tourism. Stories from either current experiences or from history can be tailored to meet a very wide range of different interests - and the websites can be matched up with interpretive programming put in place by arts, museums, and cultural organizations in collaboration with the DMO. I found that the key skills in building an integrated storytelling approach lie with strong project management and long-term engagement of partners - many of whom are likely to already be engaged in interpretive programming using storytelling. First Nations communities are particularly skilled in this area. Storytelling appears to be a very useful approach for building community buy-in because there is a direct linkage established between the community member and the visitor, allowing the visitor to become part of the story through re-enactments, music, and dramatic events. It’s an idea that’s beginning to take hold, so why not give it a try? Brian White, PhD. is Director, School of Tourism and Hospitality Management at Royal Roads University. He can be reached at 250-391-2600 ext. 4769.


Spring 2013 Congratulations to the new general managers at the following properties: Joey Belanger, Copperstone Resort Hotel, Deadmans Flats; Pamela Buttazzoni, Hinton Highway Inn, Hinton; Lana Brost, Super 8 Brooks; Julia Callarec, Canalta Hotel Oyen; Geo Cha, Provost Motor Inn, Provost; Treena Coney, Best Western Grande Prairie Hotel & Suites, Grande Prairie; Michael Davis, Best Western PLUS The Inn at St. Albert; Taewon Eom, Plains Motor Inn, Stettler; Don Griffiths, Grande Rockies Resort, Canmore; Al Harpe, Ramada Inn & Suites Lac La Biche; Paul Harrigan, Radisson Hotel Calgary Airport, Calgary; Will Horner, Coliseum Inn, Edmonton; Michelle Horton, Rockyview Hotel, Cochrane; Angela Hwang, Days Inn Grande Prairie; Rubeda Jessa, Horseman Motel, Airdrie; John Kim, Fox Creek Inn, Fox Creek; Mack Lee, Manning Motor Inn, Manning; Alice Ling, Holiday Inn Express, Grande Prairie; Michael Mauro, Four Points by Sheraton Edmonton South, Edmonton; Heather McNamara, Chateau Nova Fort McMurray; Lisianne McNee, Stop Inn Motel, Coleman; Thilak Nandagopal, Coast Edmonton East Hotel, Sherwood Park; Bill Peavoy, South Country Inn, Cardston; Samm Rae, Calaway RV Park & Campground, Calgary; Amrit Sandhu, Delta Edmonton South Hotel & Conference Centre, Edmonton; Jeff Scheelar, Edmonton Marriott at River Cree Resort, Edmonton; Manny Singh, Super 8 Red Deer; Garrett Turta, Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, Edmonton; Craig Usher, Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Lethbridge; Robert

by Debbie Minke

Ward, Windtower Lodge & Suites, Canmore; and Barnie Yerxa, Quality Hotel & Conference Centre Fort McMurray. Grande Prairie Inn is now the Pomeroy Hotel & Conference Centre, where Alice Ling is the new general manager. In Taber, the Lodge Motel is now the Taber Motor Inn. Arvin Singh is the new general manager. The Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. A celebration dinner and various special events took place during the HAC annual conference in February, and the HAC has embarked on a year-long anniversary campaign that includes a historical video and timeline amongst its many activities acknowledging and celebrating its centennial. Graham Wark has been named President of Osram Sylvania Ltd. Wark assumes overall responsibility for Canadian operations and support functions in all sales channels. Marriott International has singled out SilverBirch Hotels & Resorts for growing the Marriott portfolio in Canada in 2012 by awarding the company with its Outstanding Developer Award - Canada 2012 in their Modern Essentials and Extended Stay Brands category. Realstar Hospitality presented the following awards to its top hotels in Alberta: Property of the Year, 85 rooms and under: Days Inn - Edmonton South; New Property of the

Year: Days Inn - Calgary Northwest; General Manager of the Year: Doug Sholter, Days Inn & Suites - Strathmore; and Days Inner Circle Team of the Year: Days Inn - Calgary Airport. Chairman’s Award for Quality winners for 2012 include: Days Inn - Calgary Airport (General Manager Helena Borges); Days Inn - Edmonton South (General Manager Zelia Silva); Days Inn - Medicine Hat (General Manager Leslie Squires); and Days Inn & Suites - Strathmore (General Manager Doug Sholter). These hotels are recognized for going above and beyond set standards in daily operations and customer service. Congratulations to the Comfort Inn & Suites, Airdrie, and Econo Lodge Canmore for winning 2013 Choice Hotel Gold Awards. These properties exceed Choice Hotels’ standards for customer service, housekeeping, and product quality. Vantage Hospitality Group presented the Canadas Best Value Inn, Calgary with a “Best of the Best” award for Best Website for hotels with less than 60 rooms. The hotel’s website ( was chosen for its ease of navigation, graphics, photos, and links to CBVI’s site. If you have any noteworthy community contributions, please email the details to Debbie at

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The ENMAX Energy / AHLA Power Program Alberta’s deregulated markets can appear complicated and confusing to even the most savvy business operator. In late 2010, ENMAX Energy Corporation and the Alberta Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) partnered together to offer the “Power Program”, an innovative program with competitive pricing and flexibility to help AHLA members manage their energy costs.

The Benefits AHLA Members have the opportunity to reduce their exposure to the volatility of the electricity market and lock in their rates for electricity at wholesale prices. The initial offering was for a 5-year period ending December 31, 2015. Over 450 AHLA members have already taken advantage of the electrical energy program and secured long-term contracts. Recently, members have had the opportunity to take advantage of a drop in wholesale prices and lock in power for the years 2016 and 2017. Benefits include: • competitive electricity rates (some conditions, admin, termination fees, and taxes beyond the electricity rate also apply); • flexibility to add locations as needed at current market prices; • renewable energy purchase options; • reasonable credit requirements; and • dedicated customer service team.

For the Power Program, ENMAX Energy provides what is known as “indicative prices”. This is the current best estimate of price based on all available information at a given time, but rates in Alberta can change at any time. The only way to get a firm price is to go to the market and receive a current offer. This is what the AHLA does through ENMAX Energy. ENMAX Energy monitors the market to determine the optimal time to lock in a rate for AHLA Members who have executed contracts. Once a satisfactory rate is achievable, the AHLA and ENMAX Energy work together to determine the best time to transact. The program has entered into eight such transactions since its inception.

About ENMAX Energy ENMAX Energy is an Alberta-based generator and retailer that understand the energy market from end-to-end, providing competitive energy products that enable businesses to better manage their energy costs. Our energy experts will work with you to understand your business drivers and help you get what you need from the Power Program. ENMAX Energy is once again proud to be a Gold level sponsor for the AHLA’s 93rd Annual Convention & Trade Show. Talk to our energy experts and find out how your property can benefit from the Power Program or get more information about the Alberta electricity market. Visit us at the ENMAX Energy booth #19 or: • Visit our website at

Is Now A Good Time To Lock In Your Electricity Rate?

• Email the AHLA at or call 1-888-436-6112

No one has a crystal ball that can tell you if current rates for long-term electricity contracts will turn out to be a good price. However, a key benefit of any long-term electricity contract is price certainty. This means that the rate you lock in at is guaranteed for the contract length and, during that time, you are not exposed to the volatility of Alberta’s electricity spot market prices.

• Email ENMAX Energy at or call 1-866-331-2199

If you are considering a long-term electricity contract, ask yourself: • How well is your business able to cope with fluctuating electricity costs? • How long should you lock into an electricity contract at current long term prices?

Procuring the Power Electricity in Alberta is a deregulated and competitive market. This means electricity prices are determined by market forces such as supply and demand and that businesses can choose their electricity provider. In this market, members have two options for purchasing power: 1) Choose a “floating price”, which is determined through the Alberta power pool and fluctuates with market conditions; or 2) Sign a longterm contract, which will provide a guaranteed price for the length of the contract.

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You can choose any retailer listed at or by calling 310-4822 (toll-free). Electricity delivery to your home or business isn’t affected by your choice of retailer.


Spring 2013

AHLA (Employer of Choice) 19

MAC Sales & Marketing 22

Alberta Hotel Safety Association 7

McCallum Printing Group 36

Alberta Laundry Systems IBC

Restwell Sleep Products 5

Bell Canada 9

RHB Enterprises 33

Best Buy IFC

RONA Inc. 27

Beyond the Basics Fitness Serivces 29

Sealy Canada 26

Chemistry Consulting 31

Shaw Cablesystems 11

EMCO Corp. 34


Globalive Communications 16

Tengo Internet 8

Gordon R. Williams Corp. 15

Trafco Canada 27

Image Distributors 35

Tricom Building Maintenance 12

Jani-King of Southern Alberta 8

Van Houtte 32

John Deere Canada BC

W.E. Greer 29

Kaba Ilco 37

Western Financial Group

Kinasewich Benefits Consulting Ltd. 23 LG Electronics 13

Insurance Solutions 10 Whiteshell Chairs 26

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2013 Alberta Hospitality Spring Issue  

Alberta Properties Find Their Perfect Niche Keeping Students Safe The Wagon Wheel Motel Canadian Travel Intentions Protecting Cardholder Dat...

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