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LodgingNews April 2017 | Vol. 14 | No. 3





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Solving labour issues in Sioux Lookout

SIoux Lookout Days Inn staff clockwise from top left: Vikas Bhan (general manager), Aron De Haas (Liberty Hospitality), Helen, Michelle, Michelle, Kaitlyn and Annemarie Harriott (general manager). By Colleen Isherwood, Editor

Canada Post Publications Mail Agreement No. 40010152

SIOUX LOOKOUT, Ont. — It’s a fly-in hunter’s and fisherman’s paradise. It’s got a booming economy, largely because it is the hub that services 29 Northwestern Ontario fly-in First Nations communities. The main economic drivers for this town of 5,500, 78 km north of Dryden, Ont., are the hospital and associated hostel.

There are more job vacancies than the available labour force, coupled with competition with other sectors, most notably health care, which pay $18 to $22 for unionized positions, depending on experience. The crisis was more apparent this winter, when Sioux Lookout played host to the Little Bands Hockey tournament, where the resources of hotels and restaurants were stretched to the

max as they tried to continue servicing their customers with unfilled positions. Days Inn Sioux Lookout recognizes the issues and is working to make the industry more attractive, by changing the work environment to be more in line with the available labour forces, creating a supportive, respectful workplace, partnering with Sioux Hudson Employment Services for professional development, and offering competitive wages, above industry standard. “The struggle with labour shortage up north is real,” said Stella Gan, whose company, Liberty Hospitality, based in Barrie, Ont., manages the Days Inn. “We realize that there is no quick fix to solve this problem. Even some of the initiatives we are implementing are not the fix for this. There is some denial from the government on all levels on this issue. They feel that all these problems can be resolved just by offering more training, more funding for training — all job-related stuff. “Some of these workers have bigger issues that they need to deal with — socio-economic, mental health, substance abuse, physical abuse, etc. It is very difficult to focus on the job, career and the like, when they need to deal with other issues. “Roxanne Hammond, program manager, Sioux-Hudson Employment Services, has been a great resource in helping us and other businesses with labour challenges. We feel that it is important to bring these issues to light, to share with other employers that they are not alone, and hope this brings awareness of the problems,” Gan said. The high health care wages compare to minimum wages, which would be the going rate at the hotel — Days Inn has raised that rate substantially to be competitive.









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PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS ❱ THE EVER EVOLVING HOTEL LANDSCAPE: Top industry leaders look at recent and upcoming events/trends.


❱ MODULAR CONSTRUCTION AND ITS IMPACT ON HOTEL BUSINESS: Builders present on project management and construction costs. Owners weigh in.


markets vary so greatly and what’s impacting demand.


Find out how experts make their investment decisions and learn from their successes.

Lessons learned when putting new deals, ventures and contracts together.

❱ IN SEARCH OF PRIVATE EQUITY: What do these limber capital sources look for and how do they structure their deals, what is the investment cycle and what are their return expectations?


As hotel owners look for new ways to maximize their real estate value, multi-branding will remain a popular tool at their disposal.


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Marriott to open a hotel every 14 hours

Arne Sorenson and Don Cleary. By Colleen Isherwood, Editor TORONTO — Marriott International president and CEO Arne Sorenson says the company will be opening a new hotel every 14 hours for the next three years — a statistic that fills him with equal parts energy and exhaustion. Marriott, which already has more than 1.16 million rooms, plans to add 300,000 more by 2019. Canada’s share will be 40 or more hotels in the next three years — with 20 expected to open this year. CLN met with Marriott Hotels of Canada president Don Cleary and Sorenson, who was in Toronto for a jam-packed schedule on March 23, including a Kostuch Media Icons and In-

novators breakfast, the first ever stand-alone conference for Marriott’s Canadian full-service hotel managers, a gala dinner and an awards night. “Canada has 18 of Marriott’s 30 brands, and this year we will add two more,” said Cleary. “They are the Tribute Hotel Pur in Quebec City, and AC by Marriott, which is coming to Montreal this fall.” Breaking down Marriott’s global expansion plans, Sorenson said there will be more growth in the U.S. than anywhere else, which is a function of the U.S. economy, although it is not growing as fast as hoteliers want it to. China has 500 hotels under development, with 300 already open. “That’s a function of

two things: the GDP is growing faster than other places in the world even though it has been slower in the past decade; and there is a shift towards more of a consumer economy, which tends to be in our favour.” Growth will also be strong in India — Starwood is the biggest operator in that country. Sorenson said it’s hard to believe that Marriott started with a JW in Mumbai 15 years ago, and now has 100 hotels open in India. “It’s a big world. Japan is performing well, thanks to Chinese international arrivals, and Thailand is doing well.” Europe is also growing quite well due to inbound international travel, but it’s often a case of new brands taking share away from other operators. Sorenson gave Moxy as an example — there are 50 under development in Europe. “Delta, which is near and dear to Canada, is growing very well in the U.S. and around the world,” said Sorenson. “We have a few open in the U.S. and more than 40 in the pipeline.” Delta growth will be mainly in U.S. markets. Sorenson also mentioned Marriott’s Autograph and Starwood’s Tribute Portfolio and Luxury Collection as brands to watch. He linked Element and Residence Inn, noting that Starwood’s Element has 20 of the lifestyle, extended-stay hotels open worldwide, while Marriott’s Residence Inn has 900. Starwood’s Aloft, an upscale version of Courtyard by Marriott, has just 100 open compared to 1,000 Courtyards worldwide. Sorenson sees “massive potential” for those brands.

My Place sets its sights on Canada ABERDEEN, South Dakota — The map showing the 30 My Place hotels forms a semicircle around a big, empty Canada, stretching from Anchorage, Alaska to Monaca, Penn. The company plans to fill in some of that space. My Place co-founder, chairman and CEO Ron Rivett co-founded Super 8 Motels Inc. in Aberdeen, S.D., in 1974, along with long-time friend Dennis Brown. After selling the Super 8 Motel system in 1993, Ron remained in the hotel business, developing, building and operating Super 8 Motels and other branded properties as a franchisee until 2011. Ron and his oldest grandson, Ryan Rivett, co-founded My Place hotels in 2012, with the goal of creating affordable extended-stay hotels. Canadian Lodging News spoke with CEO Ryan Rivett, and Terry Kline, executive vicepresident, franchise development. Both the younger Rivett and Kline have a long history with Super 8, Rivett because he grew up in the company and Kline because he was vice-president, franchise development, for 17 years, starting when the Rivetts owned the brand, and continuing as it was sold and evolved to be part of HFS, then Cendant and finally Wyndham Hotels. The Super 8 connection means they know many Canadian hoteliers, including Marc Staniloff of Superior Lodging Corp., Glenn Squires from Pacrim and Cam Christianson of Canalta. “We have lots of presence on the border — it’s just a matter of time [before we build in Canada],” said Kline. The brand is 100 per cent new-build and 100 per cent franchised.

“There are a lot of opportunities for new-build economy branded properties today,” said Kline, noting that there were many “seasoned” properties at the other end of the bell curve. “We focus on meeting the price point of the economy traveller, but also to be complimentary to the midscale and upper midscale segment. It’s a niche concept,” said Terry Kline. Rivett. The brand has two comp Ryan Rivett. sets: Extended Stay America, Studio 6, Econolodge and Super 8 on the economy elling nurses, families in transit and university side; and Candlewood, MainStay, Comfort Inn, towns. “It’s not rocket science. It’s what works,” Comfort Suites and TownePlace in the midscale said Kline. This means the concept is suitable for small and upper midscale segments. It appeals to demographics ranging from construction crews towns with 12,000 to 15,000 people or cities such as Atlanta or Denver. Although energy and truck drivers to families on a budget. My Place is developed by hoteliers and de- markets are suffering now, Alberta and Sassigned for hoteliers, they say. “Our history and katchewan are possible markets, Kline said. The personal support of a small company is design resonate.” “We don’t overdevelop the property, for ex- an advantage for franchisees, he added. “They ample, with big meeting rooms, big rooms for can call Ryan, myself or Ngoc [Thach, director continental breakfast and pools,” said Kline, of public relations],” said Kline. Training is another advantage, as courses citing the capital costs and the fact that these at My Place University in Aberdeen begin this facilities are often under-utilized. The brand prototype is for a 64-room, year. “We’re pretty fixated on our growth,” said three-storey or 63-room four-storey property, but actual properties range in size from 46 to Rivett. “We have 30 hotels and are planning for 50 by the end of the year.” 85 rooms. He added that franchisees are not building “Our biggest success in the markets we operate in is where we identify local demand just one hotel; from that start, they are building generators.” These demand generators can be a second, third or fourth, and from there they anything from a location along transit lines, cor- are looking at development agreements or area porate business, medical travel, areas with trav- franchise development.

BRIEFS Rates steady: Hotel Price Index TORONTO — Even with several major political shifts and currency fluctuations around the world in 2016, travellers fared pretty well, with average nightly hotel prices unchanged globally from 2015, as reported in the latest Hotel Price Index from Hotels.com, it was announced March 7. The global Index sat at 114 for 2016, for the third year. Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean were the only regions to have slight average price increases (up 1 per cent) throughout 2016, but the other regions’ declines tempered the overall global picture. Despite having to pay more on average for hotel accommodation in two-thirds of the 50 most popular international travel destinations for Canadian travellers, price increases were marginal in most destinations and Canadians were still able to find plenty of hotspots with decreased average prices and subsequently advantageous room rates.

Palm Holdings installs vehicle charging stations TORONTO — Palm Holdings has installed 22 electric vehicle charging stations for guest use across their properties in Canada and the U.S., it was announced March 13. The new stations, installed through a partnership with manufacturer Tesla Motors and charging installation company EnviroSpark Energy Solutions, are located at Palm Holdings’ prominent hotels. They will provide guests with charging in as little as four hours.

MGM adopts BCLC’s GameSense VANCOUVER — MGM Resorts International has partnered with BCLC, British Columbia’s gambling corporation, to license its responsible gambling program, GameSense. MGM anticipates having GameSense fully integrated into all of its U.S. properties this year. The agreement marks the first time a program of this kind is being licensed by any commercial gaming company in North America. Introduced by BCLC in 2009, GameSense encourages players to adopt behaviours and attitudes that can reduce the risk of developing gambling disorders. MGM is adopting GameSense to enhance awareness and education about responsible gambling for players and guests and, in doing so, raising the standards within the industry.

DreamCheaper rate ‘robots’ NEW YORK — German start-up DreamCheaper has launched with the aim of helping consumers swap their hotel booking for a better deal by simply forwarding their reference details via email. ‘Robots’ — or a highly complex application protocol interface — behind the scenes try to find it for travellers at a better price, taking into account the firm’s commission. The best results work for hotels with refunds available on cancellation, as cancellation costs are factored into the savings. DreamCheaper does not guarantee it will find a cheaper deal, but does guarantee it will try before it asks travellers for payment. DreamCheaper takes 20 per cent of the savings on a sort of ‘no win, no fee’ basis. Savings average around 15 per cent off the rate customers have paid.

April 2017 | 3



How technology makes things personal We hear so much about how technology is changing the face of the hospitality industry — that there are now hotels where guests don’t even need to have a single personal interaction; that technology is taking over tasks from check-in to housekeeping. The two main features in this month’s Canadian Lodging News deal with the evolution of brand loyalty programs, and how technology is making hotels more efficient. I used to think that more technology meant less personal service, but that’s not the case these days. One of the advantages of MyCheck, a mobile front desk widget, is that guests can choose rooms, request upgrades and receive room status alerts. While this saves front desk staff time, it also offers options that might not be part of the standard front desk interaction.

Porter & Sail bills their app as an “expert concierge,” that can provide insider destination information, make restaurant reservations, and create a list of area attractions complete with map capabilities. The hotelier’s benefit is insight into traveller spending habits, preferences and trip purpose. Both parties benefit from personalization — the guests because they get to choose from curated attractions and the hotelier because they learn more about their guests and can respond appropriately. John Edwards, chief information officer for Red Lion Hotels Corp., says his company plans to introduce mobile payment and mobile keys this year. Edwards says mobile apps can integrate communication with the hotel as part of check-in, including messaging to guests. Red Lion is also planning to have small beacons mounted on doorways with mobile app interfaces. This will give staff more infor-

mation about which guests are staying at the hotel, and will also help direct work assignments to the areas with greatest need. In the article about loyalty programs, the buzzwords these days are “personalized experiences” and “better customer relationship management (CRM) data.” Simply put, the name of the game is finding out through the best data management possible, the best ways to cater to each guest’s personal desires. By drawing on booking and redemption data to learn more about their guests on both a macro and micro level, hotel brands can tailor their loyalty programs to provide relevant, one-of-a-kind experiences. That boils down to personalization — creating the best experience possible for each and every guest — using technology to make their stay more human.


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Canadians at Young Hotelier’s Summit LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Eighty students from 40 of the best hospitality management schools around the word met at the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne on March 12-15 for the annual Young Hoteliers Summit (YHS). Canada was represented by four schools from B.C. (Royal Roads), Ontario (Guelph and Ryerson) and Quebec (ITHQ). The YHS gives students an opportunity to network with fellow students, faculty, and industry professionals, attend workshops, prepare for and take the exam for the STR / AHLEI Certification in Hospitality Industry Analytics, and participate in a case competition, a team challenge presented by a sponsor. This year’s challenge was presented by The Student Hotel (www.thestudenthotel. com), a fast growing hotel company with a unique value proposition and positioning. Students had 24 hours to prepare a response to the challenge and pitch their proposals to a jury of four in just three minutes. Finalists were then selected to make an indepth presentation to the jury. “Our two Ryerson students came back from Switzerland tired but happy with their experience,” said Frédéric Dimanche, director, Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Ryerson University. “Karim Mohammadi and Daniel Fung both had a chance to present as finalists for the challenge, and they both obtained their CHIA certification. “But more importantly, they are now connected to a network of future hospitality leaders worldwide.” William Murray, assistant professor, School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management, University of Guelph, attended YHS with students Christian Cross and Alan Yang. “There is great value for students facing

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EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD JASON CHESKES Above The Line Solutions VITO CURALLI Hilton Worldwide PHILIPPE GADBOIS Atlific Hotels & Resorts MARK HOPE Coast Hotels BRIAN LEON Choice Hotels Canada Inc. ROBIN MCLUSKIE Colliers International Hotels BRIAN STANFORD CBRE DR. DAVID MARTIN Ted Rogers School of Hospitality

Ryerson’s Daniel Fung (left) and Karim Mohammadi. the pressures of the industry challenge and needing to perform at a high level in a short period of time with other high performing students they have just met. “However, the opportunity for the students to spend a few days outside of their respective schools networking with their peers from around the world is priceless.” said Murray. “I had high expectations going into the Young Hoteliers Summit (YHS) knowing it was an international summit that brought together top students from the world’s best hotel schools,” said Cross. “I am very happy to say that YHS not only met, but exceeded my expectations.” “For me personally, I believe the biggest value of attending the YHS is the chance to exchange ideas with delegates from all around the world,” said Yang. “After each keynote speaker or panel discussion, we would all gather around and talk about the topic and share our perspectives. Some people would agree on certain points of the presentation based on their past experiences, or the culture they come from; however, others may

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Accessibility rocks!

From left: Ryan Vanderwal, Maureen Kang, Karla Gomez, Tracy Ford, Rob Housez, Colin McCarthy, Jill Brahimi, Amelia Duffy, Barbara Brunetti, Melissa MacMullin and Danny Freestone. By Colleen Isherwood, Editor The Chelsea Hotel, Toronto won the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario’s ‘Accessible Tourism Award’ at the annual Ontario Tourism Awards of Excellence Gala on Tuesday, Nov. 22 at The Westin Ottawa. Here are some of the measures they have implemented that ensure persons with disabilities have access to the same information as all guests, consistent with the principles of dignity, independence, integration and equal opportunity. TORONTO — General manager Robert Housez smiled as he described the scene that takes place every time the Chelsea Toronto conducts accessibility training as part of its employee onboarding process. “There’s someone on crutches, someone in a wheelchair, and someone wearing goggles, all wandering around the front lobby,” he said. “We spend a good deal of time on this,” said Carrie Henderson, manager, talent acquisition and development at the Chelsea. “If they can experience this for a couple of minutes, it’s a real life experience. Using wheelchairs, walkers or white canes, they can step into somebody’s shoes and explore the hotel.” Sitting in a wheelchair, the new hires do a couple of activities in the lobby, a guestroom and the banquet area. They try opening the

doors and learn which elevator to use, since the red elevator to the pool has no stairs. They try using walkers; use ear muffs that take away their hearing; and goggles that simulate having cataracts or partial sight. They have a partner as a support person, and they learn how to talk to guests with disabilities. The hotel offers a “fidget kit” for guests who self-identify as being on the Autism spectrum. “My brother has Asberger’s,” Henderson said. “He gets nervous when there are lots of people around; he rocks and talks to himself. If he has something to grip, it calms him down.” The new employees learn proper etiquette, e.g., to talk to the person with the disability rather than the support person. Accessibility applies to recruitment as well, and how to handle interviews for people with disabilities, e.g., deafness or blindness. Some of the team members know sign language. Henderson was trained by Accessibility Professionals of Ontario, a full-service accessibility consulting firm based in Toronto, which also designed the Chelsea’s Closing the GAP (Guest Accessibility Package) program. Designed to enhance the hospitality experience, it provides guests of the Chelsea Hotel with amenities and information to assist persons with disabilities. Accessibility Professionals’ principals have

first-hand experience to offer: Kyle Rawn is blind and Colin McCarthy lost a leg to cancer. The package helps minimize any potential accessibility barriers due to lack of communication and information.“Helping people in our communities is not just a nice thing to do, it is an expression of what it means to be a Chelsea Hotel employee,” says Housez. Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) legislation began in 2005 and required all private sector organizations to meet their obligations under the Accessible Customer Service Standard. The second part of the legislation, the Integrated Accessibility Standard Regulation, addresses a variety of areas including accessible communication, transportation and involves a series of compliance deadlines. The Closing the GAP program is a simple way to bridge the ideals of accessible communications with advanced accessible customer service. The Chelsea also has an AODA Committee that includes both Henderson and Tracy Ford, director of public relations. The team members meet monthly. One of their initiatives was to plan Accessibility Week, which was held in January and included Mobility Monday, Vision Tuesday, Hearing Wednesday, Cognitive Thursday and Closing the GAP Friday.

Clockwise from top left: Alert Master and door knocker for deaf guests; phone amplifier; fidget kit for guests with Asberger’s or autism; TTY for deaf guests and bed shaker for deaf guests.

My accessible stay at Chelsea Toronto

Alan Vuong found the touchscreen directory at the Chelsea easy to use even though he had to navigate around it in a wheelchair.

Hi my name is Alan Vuong from Calgary. I had a really bad car accident that left me paralyzed and in a wheelchair. I have been to 25 countries since and never looked back. I have created this blog (atvyyc.net) to share my experiences and adventures. Visiting Toronto June 27 to July 4 2016 to attend Digital Dreams Music Festival, I needed to find a hotel that is downtown and close to major tourist attractions. It also has to be wheelchair accessible and has to have a bathroom with a roll-in shower. This hotel exceeded my expectations. It is Canada’s biggest hotel with 26 floors and 1,590 rooms. It was really beautiful, classy and all the employees were really helpful and very friendly. The hotel itself was really wheelchair accessible. There are three main entrances to the hotel at Gerrard, Yonge and Bay streets. The Yonge entrance is not accessible since it has stairs and no ramp despite having an automatic door with a wheelchair button. The other two were really accessible so I used them both depending on where I needed to go. I was pleasantly surprised to see the bathroom next to the check in desk had a wheelchair box where you wave your hand in front of the box to automatically open the bathroom door. This was very helpful and made it easier to get in and use the wheelchair stall inside. The main floor also had a touchscreen directory where you can find information about the hotel and what’s nearby and things to do in Toronto. It was easy to use despite having a wheelchair to maneuver around the screen. The row of computers next to it was a great idea and free to use, but I have my own tablet and didn’t need to use the computers. After checking in, there were lots of people waiting for the elevators, but we saw a sign saying people were encouraged to use the service elevators to get to their floors. I thought that was really nice since it reduced wait times.

April 2017 | 5

Vib and GLo are coming to Calgary and Kanata

Ron Pohl. PHOENIX, Ariz. — Two Best Western brands will make their debut in Canada starting this year, as GLō breaks ground in Kanata, an Ottawa suburb, and Vīb comes to Calgary. Both hotels will be new-builds. “Vīb is a boutique product, designed for urban locations and tight spaces. Our prototype can fit on a site as small as 10,000 square

feet (about a quarter acre). We’re targeting all urban locations in Canada (Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, plus a multitude of other smaller urban settings) for Vīb,” said Ron Pohl, Best Western’s senior vice-president, and chief operating officer. “GLō is the “suburban cousin” to Vīb. Still very hip in nature, but it is designed to be built on larger sites, typical in secondary and suburban markets,” he added. The GLō project in Ottawa is just west of the city, in suburban Kanata. They are hoping to break ground very soon (now that the weather has warmed up) and plan to open during the first half of 2018. “Best Western is targeting all urban areas for Vīb, whereas GLō can be developed virtually anywhere,” said Pohl. “If there are other mid-scale hotels in the area, then there can be a GLō, as well. Best Western broke ground on its first three GLō’s in September 2016 – in Goshen, Ind.; Nashville, Tenn., and Sheboygan Falls, Wisc. The first Vīb opened in Turkey in January and two more of the urban boutique hotels – one in Springfield, Mo., and one in Staten Is-

land, N.Y., are under construction. “We are seeing lots of success and interest

build for both of our new brands – it’s a very exciting time for us,” said Pohl.

Ricky’s new urban café concept works for hotels

VANCOUVER — The Ricky’s Group of Family Style Restaurants has gone urban with a new concept called Ricky’s Café that has just opened in the SOLO District in Burnaby, B.C., and in Red Deer, Alta. “It’s intended to be a newer, sleeker, more urbanized model,” said Frank Di Benedetto, president and CEO. “Think family style restaurant meets hipster, craft-style platform.” “The units are smaller at 2,800 to 3,000 square feet, compared to Ricky’s All Day Restaurants at 3,600 square feet and Ricky’s Country Restaurants at 4,500.” Ricky’s Country Restaurants are the former ABC Country Restaurants, which Ricky’s

6 | Canadian Lodging News

bought in 2014. There are 88 of the Ricky’s Group restaurants across the country, mainly in Western Canada. The concept is suitable for hotels, Di Benedetto said, adding that 19 of their locations are part of lodging and hotel facilities. Di Benedetto added that with 90 to 100 seats, and a cost of $700,000 total turnkey including franchise fee, the concept should appeal to franchisees with the right location. “Our strategy is to launch three, monitor the progress and tweak the concept,” Di Benedetto noted. “It’s an additional model for the Ricky’s Group. The price is more economical than Ricky’s All Day Grill, and with sales volumes

of $1.3 to $1.5 million, I’m pretty confident there will be very good numbers for ROIC.” The SOLO District in Burnaby is an ideal location for a Ricky’s Café. The retail/office/ residential complex is anchored by Whole Foods. There are 260,000 square feet of offices. “But the real kicker,” according to Di Benedetto, “is that there are four residential towers with 55 floors each. Two have been completed, with Phase 3 coming in the next few years. We’re surrounded by a corporate corridor along the Lougheed [Highway] and Willingdon [Ave.], and there’s major retail and an industrial belt nearby. This makes it an excellent choice.” The SOLO Ricky’s Café has been open for more than a month, and Di Benedetto said they are very pleased with the initial results. Ricky’s Café’s décor package is distinctive, including interesting woods, earth tones, exposed brick, butcher-block tables, an exposed ceiling and a semi-open kitchen. Off in one corner, fully exposed to guests, is a gourmet panini sandwich bar, ideal for those who are in a hurry and don’t want table service. “They wait about four minutes for a high quality sandwich — chicken pesto artichoke, caprese,

wine-braised beef short ribs or big rib stackers, mushroom veggie Portobello or the old standby, the Italian deli sandwich — all custom made,” Di Benedetto said.

Home meal takeout There’s also a home meal takeout section, designed to be more guest friendly than the grocery store or fast food experience. The meals are nicely packaged and the waiting area has comfortable seating and newspapers to read while waiting for a meal, Di Benedetto said. “Guests can get home meal takeout without going through the regular full service process. As guests become familiar with the restaurant, they can call ahead and order comfort-style dinners that are ready in six to ten minutes.” The home meal takeout menu includes global bowls, wine-braised beef short ribs with risotto, home-style pierogies, spinach ricotta ravioli, big rib stackers with fries, coleslaw and garlic loaf, or traditional fish and chips. Behind the scenes, Di Benedetto notes there are two pass-throughs in the kitchen, one for table service and one for home meal takeout. “The sandwich bar and home meal takeout give Ricky’s Café an interesting twist. It steps up the tempo in the restaurant; it’s more energized than the standard Ricky’s restaurant. And of course, Ricky’s Café has a full bar.” The Red Deer unit, which opened last month, is owned by the same family that has the city’s two Ricky’s All Day Grills, and the Fatburger, Di Benedetto’s other chain. Next on the list is a third Ricky’s Café, slated to open this fall in the upscale Morgan Crossing/Grandview Central area of Surrey, B.C., another retail/office/condo development in a very urbanized part of the suburban Surrey market. In addition to the Ricky’s Café, the company plans to open Ricky’s All Day Grills in Edmonton Gateway, Acheson (near Edmonton), Bonneville and Fort McMurray, Alta., as well as Hope and Parksville, B.C.

Days Inn Sioux Lookout tackles the labour shortage

Clockwise from top left: Anne Marie Harriott, general manager, Aron De Haas, Liberty Hospitality, Vikas Bhan, general manager and Roxanne Hammond, program manager, Sioux-Hudson Employment Services. Continued from page 1 “Days Inn bumped up the wages a little more, even higher than what other hospitality businesses are offering. They have been proactive at overcoming that hurdle,” Hammond said. Although the population of Sioux Lookout is officially 5,500, in reality it can fluctuate between 8,000 and 10,000, with people flying in and out or driving on ice roads to access health care and other services the town offers. Although Sioux Lookout is a small place, it has four hotels — Days Inn, Best Western, The Forest Inn and the Sunset Inn — to service this larger, visiting population. “It’s a great economy,” said Hammond, who has worked at the employment services company for 13 years. “It’s recession proof. I have never seen the job board have less than 100 positions at one time. There are shortages across all occupations — teachers, mental health professionals, nurses — they are feeling it across the board. “In Sioux Lookout, getting the job is not the challenge; the challenge is retaining employees. In a healthy economy, employees often see hospitality as a stepping stone — it is easy to move if you are a strong employee.” She added that some people are dealing with significant social issues, including mental health problems, addiction, literacy and education, homelessness, single parenthood, a high cost of living and a lack of transportation in this long, spread-out community. Added to the mix is the remoteness of the community — Dryden is an hour away and Kenora is a three-hour drive. “We worked with Roxanne since the day we opened,” said Gan. They worked with local colleges that offer hospitality/management training. They reached out to fill housekeeping positions — but found that not everyone wanted to go to Sioux Lookout. “That’s in-

teresting because Sioux Lookout has long been seen as a destination location for the outdoors, hunting and fishing. It’s got a healthy economy and outdoor lifestyle — people from all over the world love it,” Gan said. “It’s a beautiful place with clean water, sandy beaches and snowshoeing in the winter.” Sometime young families are reluctant to relocate because of how small the community is and how far it is from a major centre. Some of the things that appeal to young families — a local pool and well-known franchises — just aren’t there. “Infrastructure-wise, there is work to do,” said Gan. “The municipality is attempting to address this.” There’s no public transit, and the area has long, very cold winters. Most people have two jobs in order to get by, said Hammond, noting that she works at the local campus of Confederation College as well as at Sioux Hudson.

High cost of living A high cost of living including increasing housing costs come into play as well — creating barriers to not only entry positions, but management positions as well. “The cost of a two-bedroom apartment is $1,200 to $1,500 per month,” said Hammond. “Add utilities, which are a huge barrier for us, especially in a community that has seven months of -20 C to -40 C. Food has to be shipped here, although the local grocer does their best to keep things competitive.” A three-bedroom, new build home costs $375,000 to $475,000. One of the measures Days Inn Sioux Look-

out implemented is flexible working hours. “People no longer have to start at 10 or at 9 — they come in when they can. You take what you can get,” said Gan. People often have to walk to and from their place of employment, and with more lakes than land, Sioux Lookout is not a walking town. Hammond gave an example of a single parent whose shift at the hotel was from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. That person would have to walk their child to school. There’s no provision at the school for early morning drop off. That means the earliest they could start is 9:15 a.m. If they are going to pick up their child from school on time, they can’t stay at work until 3 p.m. “We have to adjust or adapt with the limitations of Sioux Lookout,” said Hammond. To overcome the public transportation problem, Days Inn offered pick up and drop off after shifts. “That has worked well until last Monday, when we had zero attendance in the housekeeping department,” said Gan. “When that happens, the focus of the hotel operations manager is to turn around those rooms. They’re gasping for air; there’s only so many things an operations manager can handle.”

Accommodating cultural norms Hammond said there is a high proportion of First Nations people in the employment pool. “A lot of time, the individual comes from northern communities, and they may not have lived outside the community. There’s a transition people are experiencing — from the cultural norms of their community to the cultural norms in business. “For example, when a loved one passes, the

whole community shuts down due to cultural practice. Sometimes that’s lost in communication. It’s taken for granted that you don’t need to call your employer. It’s understood because in small First Nations communities, that’s how it works.” One of the main services Sioux Hudson Employment Services provides is mainstream employee readiness and life skills. They are trying to equip entry level employees with the skills they need to meet urban expectations. “I am a registered social worker, and the work I do here is outside of the capacity of a typical employment agency,” said Hammond. “What my team has done here is take a pro-active approach to address social issues, adding to worker effectiveness.” The company has four full-time employment counsellors, and in addition to traditional employment counselling, they are all certified as life skills coaches by the YWCA. They are all trained in motivational interview, strength-based perspectives, positive mental health, literacy and language barriers and addiction. Sioux Hudson also partners with other community resources. The centre offers a 60-hour pre-employment program for youth aged 15 to 29. The program focuses on life skills, time management, budgeting, how to access housing, and mental health and addiction services. Part of the course deals with how to talk to your employers, how to present yourself in a professional way and how to negotiate. “We try to bridge that gap. Employers can call us if people didn’t show up. We would call to find out what’s happened,” Hammond said.

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April 2017 | 7

Bringing the ‘Wow’

Continually improving and innovating at warp speed, technology is helping hoteliers enhance their operations and the guest experience as never before.

By Don Douloff


e are truly in a Golden Age of technology, where fierce competition and the ceaseless quest for innovation is making available to hoteliers an unprecedented number of tools that are improving their operations and enhancing the guest experience. Driving this tech boom are customers’ demands and expectations as much as hoteliers’ desire to streamline operations. To cite a few examples from the Hotel Association of Canada’s 2017 Travel Survey: 85 per cent of leisure and 84 per cent of business travellers are looking for free wireless when choosing a property; 93 per cent of travellers, up 14 per cent over last year, use smart/cell phones and/or tablets when they travel; and 13 per cent of respondents are very willing and 34 per cent are somewhat willing to trade face-to-face check-in with mobile/kiosk checkins. Catering to that last group is MyCheck, which, in January, introduced the mobile Front Desk Widget that hotels, running on the Micros Opera platform, can add to their website, mobile web and app that will enable guests to check-in, view their folio, and check-out with just a click. Guests access the Front Desk Widget on the hotel’s website, mobile web or app by entering their confirmation number and last name. Before they arrive, guests use the widget to choose rooms, request upgrades and receive room status alerts. Upon arrival, guests can bypass the front desk and go straight to their rooms. Onsite, guests use the widget to view their folios (data is pulled in real time from the property management system). Upon departure, guests check-out via the widget, using their laptop, tablet or smartphone. The widget is “designed to ‘wow’ guests while saving hoteliers development and integration time,” said Shlomit Kugler, MyCheck CEO, in a release. EXPERT CONCIERGE Also designed to enhance the guest experience is Porter & Sail’s app, which is “like having a 24/7 expert concierge in your pocket,” said Caitlin Zaino, co-founder and CEO. Via the app, guests can uncover recommendations curated by destination insiders; request and confirm restaurant reservations; and create a personalized list of must-visit places and map locations, among other functions. Porter & Sail’s Dashboard puts guest analytics at staff ’s fingertips, providing insights into, for instance, a traveller’s spending, preferences and trip purpose. Hotel staff members use the Porter & Sail dashboard to power hotel-guest communication, manage restaurant reservations and view guest profiles, allowing Dormakaba Mobile Access Screen

for smarter service and increased guest satisfaction. Mobile payment is on the radar at Red Lion Hotels Corp. (RLHC), whose banners include Hotel RL, Red Lion Hotels, Lexington and Canadas Best Value Inn. Plans for 2017 include introducing mobile payment for prepay reservations, check-out and point-of-sale at onsite restaurants and other food and beverage outlets, according to John Edwards, chief information officer. MOBILE PAY PROGRAM RLHC’s mobile pay program will enable Hello Rewards customers to store credit cards in their rewards wallets and will enable them to leverage nontraditional payment such as Masterpass (by Mastercard) or Visa Checkout. Furthermore, guests will be able to integrate such mobile pay options as Apple Pay or Google Wallet, said Edwards. Also on the agenda this year is check-in with mobile keys, and to that end, the company is working with multiple mobile key brands. “We see it as a brand differentiator, especially in the RL brand,” he noted. Mobile apps, he said, integrate communication with the hotel as part of check-in, and allow integration of communications, such as F&B messaging, to guests. RLHC will also work to integrate hardware (small ‘beacons’ mounted, for instance, on doorways) with mobile app interfaces to notify staff regarding which guests (such as Hello Rewards members) are staying at the hotel, or to reassign staff to as-needed assignments dictated by customer flow. Technology is also helping connect meeting and event planners with prospective hotel clients. EventForte introduced, in 2016, Creative Showcase, a communications tool featuring a hotel directory and enabling planners to filter their search by such criteria as location, function space, etc. Hotels can update their venue information; giving planners access to current info can lead to them using those hotels for events, said Max Landaw, director of strategic partnerships at EventForte. The company’s Event Sales Tool enables hotels to embed capacity charts on Facebook and websites. In addition, a button, on the platform, allows planners to go in and ‘plan’ the hotel event, on the site, ‘walking around’ the function space, even ‘placing furniture’ — all virtually, of course. That ability to conduct a ‘dry run’ is more likely to convince planners to use the space, said Landaw. Another fast-changing area is door access solutions. Swiss-based dormakaba offers radio frequency identification (RFID) electronic hotel locks that are mobile access compatible, allowing guests to access their room using a keycard or mobile device and en-

abling hotels to enhance guest convenience while improving operational efficiency. The company’s RFID locks can be installed as standalone or networked, with wireless, online and web-based access control systems. MOBILE KEY OPERABILITY For example, the Saflok Quantum RFID, Quantum II, dormakaba’s modular RFID solution, is offered with a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) option, for mobile key operability, and offers keycard auditing capabilities to monitor staff and report user accountability. Based on contactless technology, the Confidant RFID enhances the guest experience while extending the lock’s service. Moreover, this BLE-capable lock functions with all dormakaba lodging access control systems. Confidant RFID works for new applications or replacing existing mechanical or electronic hotel locks to complement contemporary hotel decor. Payment systems, too, are providing operators increasingly sophisticated options. Dynamic currency conversion (DCC), from Moneris, enables hotels to offer international MasterCard or Visa travellers the option to pay in their own currency, simplifying and speeding up foreign credit card transactions. DCC reduces the number of chargebacks and confusion between hotel staff and clientele (by eliminating unrecognized amounts) and does away with the need to search for conversion rates, making transactions more efficient. Moneris’s contactless tap-and-pay, typically for purchases under $100, is made with a contactless-enabled card or smartphone and is ideal for hotel restaurants and retail outlets such as gift shops. Tap-and-pay increases the speed of transactions, boosting productivity by allowing staff to focus on customer service. Technology is also helping to improve hoteliers’ efficiency in the facilities management area. Cloud-based Maestro PMS hotel management system, for instance, provides streamlined solutions to independent resorts and hotels. “Maestro PMS supports our systems and protects our data,” said Alan Stephens, director of operations at Columbia Hospital-

ity, in a release. “A big advantage of our cloud platform is that I can access all of my property operations and their performance information remotely from my laptop or tablet, all through a simple web browser secure login. This is huge. Maestro cloud support has been 100-per-cent reliable and the system is easy to use.” Columbia Hospitality has five properties operating on Maestro’s cloud platform. Maestro in the cloud eliminates the need to recruit IT staff and simplifies credit card PCI requirements so operators can focus on their guests. Single- or multi-property operators access the hotel management system from a secure browser connection, and property data is safely housed off-property in a PCI-compliant environment. GUESTROOM AUTOMATION Honeywell’s INNCOM Energy Management Systems deliver energy savings, and its guestroom automation systems integrate with third-party systems and devices to control and monitor lighting, drapes, electronic locks, safes, minibars and televisions. It can also connect with smartphone and tablet applications. Honeywell light switches and room status request indicators provide privacy and enhanced guest service, while illuminating the switch buttons for safety and convenience. The INNCOM networked INNcontrol 3 Energy Management software creates a centrally controlled system where housekeeping, engineering, hotel management, security and other staff have immediate access to room status, diagnostic alerts and historical trends. Elfiq Networks’ LBX Series & VLBX Series devices allow the use of many routed links simultaneously and support any kind of routed link or speed. Their deployment requires no change to standard router configurations. Multiple balancing rules are configured with different algorithms and link selection so the network administrator can have control over network link selection and usage (traffic segmentation). The best link for a given task is identified, and the traffic is directed accordingly, optimizing the available bandwidth and creating a smarter network. With links from multiple Internet Service Providers and using

multiple technologies, Internet access uptime can reach 99.999 per cent, ensuring connectivity to business customers in guestrooms, conference centres and meeting rooms, or leisure guests connecting multiple devices. Harco, a distributor of industrial, commercial and coin/card operated laundry systems, offers the UniMac TotalVue, which gives laundry managers and executives a complete view into laundry operations. The networked system monitors the performance of all UniMac washer-extractors and tumble dryers in the facility, as well as those in multiple locations, resulting in reports that make it easy to measure the critical performance indicators affecting the laundry’s efficiency, both in labour and utilities. The cloud-based solution also offers a real-time look at operations from anywhere in the world through a personalized Internet portal. This accessibility enables management to make immediate changes. Reports also are easily exported, printed or emailed to other stakeholders. TotalVue enables operators to monitor conditions that may be hindering operational efficiency and productivity, and equips management with the data to ask informed questions of staff and take corrective action to increase efficiency, enhance performance (throughput) and improve finished quality.

Inncom Modeva Thermostat

TVs: larger, clearer, versatile, razor thin TORONTO — Last year, LG Electronics enhanced its portfolio of televisions for the hospitality industry — both in public spaces and in guestrooms. “All our latest digital signage technology applies to all hotel operators and owners in Canada. Eighty-six-inch Ultra Stretch, OLED dual sided, videowalls are all being used and positioned to go in hotels within Canada,” said Andrew Chlebus, senior national sales manager, hospitality division at LG Electronics Canada, who sees this as the most exciting product for 2017. “Hotels are taking advantage of the bleeding edge technology LG has to offer to help enhance the guest experience by improving messaging within common areas and fitness areas with the videowall, emergency messaging with the dual sided, and cool and unique attention grabbing bar/restaurant flair with the 86-inch ultra stretch display,” Chlebus said.

Curved and dual-sided videowalls

Andrew Chlebus

New OLED commercial displays, LG’s dualview flat and dual-view curved tiling models, are ideal for digital signage installations in hotel lobbies, fitness centres and other public spaces. “Our videowall is the thinnest in the world and is compatible with displaying 4K content,” Chlebus noted. Uses for OLED displays go beyond the lobby. For example, the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel, reopening in June, features dual-sided OLED displays in its corridors and newly-created thirdfloor boardrooms, Chlebus said. At the forefront of new LG hospitality solutions this year are the world’s first OLED TVs

designed specifically for hotel rooms. These razor-thin 55- and 65-inch class hotel TVs combine the excellent picture quality of OLED – perfect blacks, intense colours and infinite contrast – with LG’s hotel TV technologies.

4K Ultra HD enhancements In addition to its high-end commercial OLED collection, LG offers a full portfolio of products specifically designed for the hospitality space, including commercial 4K Ultra HD hotel TVs enhanced with LG’s Pro:Centric interactive TV platform and the Pro:Idiom digital rights management system, as well as Digital Signage and Video Wall solutions. Chlebus says 4K is catching on, with Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Blue

Jays games now broadcast in 4K.

Trends for 2017 In 2017, Chlebus expects to see the de facto size of the 43-inch moving to larger size of 49plus inches or bigger. “Many different hotel banners (Marriott in particular) are looking to implement the larger size and new look to Canada.” Another trend is having versatile features and functions so hoteliers have the investment protection of exploring any technology avenue they wish. Seamless integration with system integrators and cable providers is a third trend. Finally, there will be over-the-top applications such as Internet Protocol (IP) TV, Chlebus said.

April 2017 | 9

Are you happy? Beckley asks Guelph students By Colleen Isherwood, Editor GUELPH, Ont. — For three days in March, Michael Beckley, now with CBRE, shared his 50 years of hotel experience with students at University of Guelph, culminating in a special dinner. From March 14th to 16th, Beckley visited the University of Guelph to share his experiences and offer advice to Hospitality and Tourism Management students. Beckley is currently serving as director, CBRE Hotels, and was formerly the SVP, Lodging Development for Marriott Hotels of Canada.

“Michael Beckley told us to ask ourselves two things every day at work,” said Yonnie Wong, student association president, who will soon graduate from the program. “Ask yourself, ‘are you happy?’ And ‘what value do you bring to the job?’” “I learned two things about Michael that show his commitment to the industry,” said School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management director Statia Elliot in her introduction to Beckley’s speech. “First, whenever he talks about Marriott, he says ‘we,’ even though he no longer works there. Second, he still wears a gold ring given to him 40 years

ago by one of his mentors.” Over Beckley’s extensive career, he has held various senior positions within the industry in Europe, Bermuda, the West Indies and Canada. Beckley’s involvement in the industry in Canada has been wide-ranging over the past 34 years and includes serving as chairman of Experience Canada. His time as chairman led to the foundation of the Canadian Tourism Commission and he also served as chairman of Ontario’s Tourism Strategy under the premiership of Bob Rae. “I have lived in a number of different countries with different languages. The

lessons I have learned are: the importance of culture within an organization; the power of influence is far greater than the power of control; and you can achieve more by asking rather than telling.” Student volunteers prepared and served a meal that included mussel and fennel chowder, Caprese salad, Ontario beef short ribs and sticky toffee pudding to the guests, who included alumni from all areas of the hospitality industry and heads of hospitality organizations.

Palm Holdings named IHG Developer of the Year

Left to right: Anto Vrdoljak, IHG Canada; Anil Taneja, Ashok Taneja and Rajan Taneja of Palm Holdings and Jonathan Lund, regional vice-president IHG Canada. TORONTO – Palm Holdings has received the IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) 2017 Developer of the Year Award, given to hoteliers achieving distinction in hotel development on March 27. Palm Holdings was awarded this honor for their most recent IHG property, the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Halifax-Bedford, which opened in March 2016, after a substantial conversion renovation. The 113-room hotel features 20 suites, approximately 2,000 square feet of meeting space, an indoor heated pool, whirlpool, fitness studio and business centre. The new hotel’s design follows the Holiday Inn Express Brand’s Formula Blue concept. Palm Holdings is led by the Taneja Family, who are well known in the Canadian hotel industry, as they own and operate multiple internationally branded hotels.

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“IHG continues to grow, thanks in a large part to our distinguished developers. I am pleased to include Palm Holdings within this group. “Palm Holdings clearly demonstrates the highest standards in hotel development and we are happy to honour them with a Developer of the Year Award,” said Jonathan Lund, regional vice-president Canada, IHG. “We appreciate the recognition and support from all at IHG, we are fortunate to accept this award on behalf of our extended family who work hard every day within our hotels to make a difference. “IHG has been a great partner for Palm Holdings in Canada and the U.S. and we look forward to continuing our journey together onto the next hotel,” said Rajan Taneja senior vice-president acquisitions and sales for Palm Holdings.

Motel 6 - Saskatoon earns coveted Great Award TORONTO — Realstar Hospitality announced on March 8 that one of its franchisees, Motel 6 - Saskatoon, scored among the best of the brand for 2016 in top performance and guest satisfaction. This honour is only awarded to those properties that excel across the board in their guest relations, staff friendliness and room cleanliness scores for a fiscal quarter. Motel 6 — Saskatoon was the only franchise hotel part of the Motel 6 / Studio 6 Canadian portfolio to receive the award for all of 2016 (in Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4). “Hotels like Motel 6 - Saskatoon are setting

the standard for excellence in the lodging industry,” said Irwin Prince, president & COO, Realstar Hospitality, in a release. Introduced in 2015, the Great Award is a testament to dedication and commitment of the hotel general manager and teamwork at the property level. Located at 231 Marquis Drive, Motel 6 Saskatoon offers 67 guestrooms with free wireless Internet access, LED TVs and an expanded cable lineup with premium channels. Amenities include an on-site indoor swimming pool and in-room mini-fridges and microwaves.

CHIC turns 21 in 2017 TORONTO — For 21 years, the Canadian Hotel Investment Conference has established itself as an important source of information, insight and opinion on today’s Canadian lodging market. Designed to meet the needs of senior executives from across North America, this business conference delivers outstanding insight on where the industry is today, where it’s heading and the options it can deliver. The Canadian Hotel Investment Conference has come of age, celebrating its 21st annual conference this year on May 15 and 16 at the Westin Harbour Castle, Toronto. On May 15 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., conference hosts CBRE Hotels, Colliers International Hotels and HLT Advisory Inc. will welcome all registered delegates to the Westin Harbour Castle for a meet and greet. The next morning, Bill Stone and Mark Woodworth of CBRE Hotels will participate in the first plenary session, titled The Ever-Evolving Hotel Landscape. Global capital is moving faster than a remote check-in. Where is the smart money going? What are the major influencers of international investment, leading indicators and what does the future hold? In this session, a Canadian economist and top industry leaders look at recent and upcoming events and trends. Next up, Carrie Russell of HVS and Scott Duff of CBRE will discuss “up to the minute” top line and financial performance and transaction highlights for the major Canadian hotel markets. Their presentation will help delegates understand why markets vary so greatly and what’s affecting demand for hotel lodging and buoyant deal activity. All registered delegates will have access to their slide deck post-event. In a breakout panel titled, Develop or Deal, Charles Suddaby of Cushman & Wakefield, Deepak Baring of Calmcrest Holdings, Steve Gupta of Easton’s Group of Hotels Inc. and Marc Staniloff of Superior Lodging Corp. will offer advice on what to do and when to do it. With great value and operational disparities across the country, some properties are trading near replacement cost while others have been severely reduced. Some develop in weak markets during poor times. Find out how experts make their investment decisions and learn from their successes and missteps. Dual branding is the topic of another breakout featuring Linas Saplys of API Consultants & Saplys Architects Inc., Alnoor Gulamani of Bayview Hospitality Group, Sandeep Gupta of Sunray Group and Bhulesh Lodhia of JM Hospitality Inc.

Hugo Germain of Group Germain takes a selfie of last year’s #hotelNEXT finalists and judges. dissect how they have evolved through supply swings and demand shocks. One day, you need sandwich boards out front of the hotel to attract guests and buyers and the next day ropes are needed for the hoards. This session will compare the influencers of demand, how markets fill and why some submarkets can be on fire while others simultaneously smolder and how this affects valuations and transaction activity. Back by popular demand is CHIC’s national student contest called #hotelNEXT, where aspiring hotel developers pitch their hotel concepts to

a panel of Canadian investors and hotel owners. On March 16, the top three teams will have 15 minutes each to present their ideas on the hotel of the future. The winner will be chosen that day and delegate votes count. Modular construction, legal and structuring mistakes and the search for private equity will all be covered in the afternoon plenary sessions. In this, Canada’s 150 birthday year, it’s fitting that the final session is called C Stands for Canada, Coveted and Capital. Domestic and foreign investors are attracted

to Canada by its property yields and safe investment, operating and debt environment. This session explores the trends of both domestic and non-Canadian activity and looks at progressive debt and equity structures. Speakers include Jason Chrein, Credit Agricole CIB; Tyler Seaman, Oxford Properties Group and Bruce Wiles, Thayer Lodging, Brookfield Hotel Properties. For information, contact: Vicki Welstead. Tel. 416-924-2002, ext. 233. Email: vickiwelstead@bigpictureconferences.ca. Website: hotelinvest.ca

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From hero to zero CBRE’s Brian Flood and HVS’s Monique Rosszell will compare urban and suburban markets including Vancouver/ Richmond, Calgary, Toronto/GTA to

April 2017 | 1 1


HOTEL LOYALTY PROGRAMS By Colleen Isherwood, Editor A better guest experience, instant rewards, ease of use, points that never expire, partnerships with the OTAs, better CRM data and an agenda that encourages disruption. These are some of the approaches major brands are taking as they try to woo customers with their loyalty programs. LOYALTY PROGRAMS GROWING IN CANADA AND ABROAD The loyalty numbers keep climbing. Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred guest programs announced last month that they have a combined 100 million members, including Ritz-Carlton members. Here in Canada, there are 2.3 million Marriott Rewards customers, and when combined with the SPG members, the total is more than 3 million members. IHG’S Liz Crisafi, head of portfolio marketing, loyalty and partnerships, The Americas, says IHG Rewards Club is the first and largest loyalty program in the industry, with more than 100 million enrolled members globally. At the end of March, Wyndham Hotel Group, announced it has surpassed 50 million members worldwide, celebrating the milestone enrolment at the newly opened Wyndham Grand Xiamen in China. Hilton also has more than 50 million members around the globe. Choice Privileges and Best Western Rewards both boast 30 million members worldwide. Here in Canada, there are more than 1.7 million Choice Privileges members and 2.6 million Best Western Rewards cardholders. Hyatt has more than 20 million members. Red Lion’s Ramsey Pruchnic, VP relationship marketing and data management platforms, says the company doesn’t divulge total membership numbers for its Hello Rewards loyalty program, but noted that the program went from less than 100 hotels to just under 1,200 when the company acquired Vantage Hospitality last year.

EXPERIENCES, INSTANT REWARDS AND POINTS THAT DON’T EXPIRE Bill Linehan, EVP and CMO at Red Lion Hotels Corp. has described the company’s Hello Rewards as a new, innovative guest recognition program that is disruptive to traditional

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loyalty schemes, yet more relevant to changing consumer dynamics; less costly and more rewarding with instant gratification. “Our members always have the best rate guaranteed, and they start earning free nights right away, plus they get all the other fringe benefits including free Wi-Fi and perks with their stay,” added Pruchnic of Red Lion. “It’s not a tiered program — it’s an approach that starts the minute a guest is staying with us. We consider them loyal on Day 1, and they can get rewards faster than most points programs.” “It’s well-known that all Canadians are points junkies — they definitely participate in a lot of loyalty programs,” said Dorothy Dowling, SVP and CMO at Best Western. “Our coalitions with Aeroplan and Air Miles are valued because of their mid-market appeal. “Our program is the envy of the industry, because our points never expire. That’s a decision we made several years ago, and it makes us unique. Customers view those points as currency.” Dowling pointed out that another valuable feature is that Best Western is deliberately transparent with customers and their promotions have real value. “For example, our $10 travel card can help them build toward a weekend or vacation or next stay — these are the richest promos. “Our Elite tiers have an extraordinary benefit. More than two thirds of customers earn free night redemptions — heavy users are rewarded richly and can get to redemptions quickly.” In 2016, Choice announced the most significant Choice Privileges redesign in the rewards program’s history, offering members the “Faster Way to Rewards.” “The enhancements we’ve made are all about helping our travellers earn rewards faster and more frequently,” said Julie Chan-McCon-

nell, senior director, marketing and distribution at Choice Hotels Canada. Liz Crisafi, head of portfolio marketing, loyalty and partnerships, The Americas, for IHG, said, “Travel is special. It’s something that people dream about, plan and look forward to and a way that they create memories that last a lifetime. We believe that travel should be even more rewarding regardless of the reason, so IHG Rewards Club gives members more of what they deserve: more exceptional benefits, relevant rewards and personal experiences.”

RECENT INNOVATIONS Marriott Rewards and SPG merger While Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest members can already link their cards for status matching, points transfers and more, Marriott is in the midst of integrating them further. ‘The integration has gone really, really well so far, “ said Michelle Bozoki, director of marketing and digital strategies. “We are very much focused on merging the programs before taking on one larger program. Marriott still has its work cut out in terms of due diligence, IT systems — linking the accounts and looking at harmonizing offers and messages, said Bozoki. Over the next year, Marriott will be streamlining the programs so that loyalty offers are consistent with all three. The company hopes to roll out its unified program with one consistent platform and the same partners later in 2018. Bozoki talked about some of the benefits of integration in the mobile area. For example, Marriott has some of the best mobile check in/ out technology, which is available to SPG guests this year. SPG is ahead when it comes to keyless entry – Marriott will roll this feature out to 500 of its hotels by the end of the year.

HHonors now Honors Hilton has revamped its loyalty program for 2017. The most obvious change is that they are dropping the H in its HHonors program, so that it is now simply Honors. Hilton Honors is introducing new Points & Money awards where members can (on a sliding scale) mix points and cash. This can be applied towards Best Flexible and Member Only Rates, but certain sale rates are excluded such as those sales in Europe and Asia. Members of the Hilton Honors program can also use points on Amazon.com, and can combine points and cash to redeem rewards. An Honors member can start a pool with up to 10 other members who then can transfer anywhere from 1,000 to 500,000 points. The member starting the pool can then use the points any way she or he wants, the same way the points from a single member are used. Hilton also announced a one-time extension of Hilton Diamond Status. Best Western — immediate rewards “We are constantly listening to our members, and we came up with the concept of instant rewards — rewarding customers at the point of sale,” said Best Western’s Dowling. “Guests have been trained by Amazon and Google to have that sense of immediacy. We will give out $10 rewards or points — we try to straddle both value propositions.” The enhancements, to be unveiled at Best Western’s Leisure Travel Summit this spring, mean that Gold members will be recognized at the property level, in addition to Diamond, Platinum and Diamond Elite members. Recognition can include 500 bonus points or two snacks and two drinks, or an instant travel card. Best Western will also be launching a digital membership card. “I’m passionate about it,” says Dowling. “Guests will be landing on a ubiquitous platform, which makes it more valuable.”

Ramsey Pruchnic

Bill Linehan

Red Lion: competing with bigger chains Pruchnic said Red Lion is in the middle of revising its partner networks, integrating a coffee company with the hotels and introducing Hello at Home, which involves redeeming points for room design items such as Red Lion’s own soap, towels and other products available for purchase. “Now that we are no longer a regional company, we have the opportunity to establish strategic relationships of value to partners,” he said. Choice enhancements Some of the enhancements Choice rolled out in 2016 include: • Your Extras: Members receive a reward the moment they check-in for a midweek stay, and can use these rewards throughout their stay. • Keep Your Points: Points no longer expire as long as members stay active. • Digital Gift Cards: Members can redeem points for gift cards they can use immediately. • Flex Rewards: Members can redeem for free nights using fewer points. • 10 Points per Dollar: Members earn 10 points per $1 spent at over 5,500 Choice hotels globally. World of Hyatt Hyatt’s changed its Gold Passport loyalty program to the World of Loyalty rewards program, with changes that went into effect March 1. There was no change to how guests earn points, what those points are worth and Hyatt still has the same seven redemption categories as before. With the new program, Hyatt is introducing three elite tiers in place of the current two:

Dorothy Dowling

Discoverist, Explorist and Globalist. There are a number of new benefits for these upper-tiered customers. Top tier elites will get space available upgrades including to standard suites at check-in in addition to the continuation of four upgrades a year confirmed at time of booking. Staying 70, 80, 90, and 100 nights a year comes with the option of another confirmed suite upgrade or 10,000 points. Hyatt now has a new benefit for top elites called My Hyatt Concierge. This is similar to Starwood’s Ambassador which SPG awards after 100 nights — a dedicated person to take care of all things Hyatt and stay-related. IHG stresses personal relationships “When it comes to loyalty, transaction-based relationships are no longer enough,” said IHG’s Crisafi. “Consumers want meaningful, personal relationships, which is what IHG Rewards Club aims to deliver. “For some members, unique and memorable experiences, which can range from surprise and delight moments during their stays to curated, invitation-only events such as a VIP weekend experience at the Calgary Stampede, or oneof-a-kind experiences that members can bid on through IHG Rewards Club Auctions, are most valuable,” said Crisafi. IHG’s Crisafi says their research revealed that recognition is the best reward; rewarding members with experiences that are personally relevant to them is something a member feels and appreciates much more than just earning points. “After all, it’s not about the points you earn but rather what you get for them – by having access to the rewards and experiences you desire. So in 2015 we introduced Spire Elite, our top level of membership, to reward our most loyal members.

From left: Noah Broadsky, Wyndham SVP worldwide loyalty and engagement, Leo Liu, WHG president and managing director for Greater China and Samuel Xu, the 50 millionth Wyndham Rewards member.

Julie Chan-McConnell

Michelle Bozoki

“We also utilize our customer relationship management (CRM) system to enable our hotels to know their guests and to respond to member preferences at every stage of the guest journey and offer services and experiences that are personally relevant.” Recently, IHG updated its IHG app, making it easier to use. And earlier this year, IHG introduced another benefit – the Fuel Rewards program – which offers members savings on fuel at participating Shell stations.

RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTAS Last August, Expedia and RLHC began offering RLHC’s exclusive “Hello Rewards” member-only rates on Expedia.com and Hotels. com (in the U.S.), and providing direct member sign-up for Hello Rewards from these sites. “It’s been great for us,” said Pruchnic. “We have seen our membership base and direct bookings grow. There’s a halo effect — it’s netted out to be a really great move for us. Expedia got us on the radar, but it won’t be our last innovation,” he added. Best Western’s Dowling said Expedia provides access to customers they wouldn’t necessarily have. “We want to be on every shelf where the consumer wants to purchase. OTAs are great marketing partners. They allow us to carve out opportunities to display our value proposition. The business environment has changed dramatically. We are embracing change and leaning into our partners and our brand with exceptional outcomes.” IHG has a different approach. In 2016, they introduced Your Rate from IHG Rewards Club, which provides exclusive, preferential rates when guests book through IHG’s direct channels, said Crisafi. “While third-party booking sites (OTAs) remain an important partner for driving incremental revenue, the best and most cost effective route to booking a room at any of our brands is generally via our direct channels, and Your Rate provides us with the opportunity to strengthen, or create, that direct relationship with our guests.” “We have very strong relationships with the OTAs and have been partners for many years,” said Marriott’s Bozoki. “That’s mainly because they have such a large reach to customers we would not normally have access to. We try to educate these guests about our awards program, ultimately for them to enjoy our loyalty program and get them to book direct. The perception is that you can get the lowest rates on the OTAs, while you actually get the lowest rates by booking on Marriott’s direct channel.” Marriott works to convert OTA customers by taking advantage of every touch point, before, during and after the guest’s stay, said Jen Bryl, director loyalty marketing and CRM. “At

Jennifer Bryl

the front desk, an associate gets their email and starts to engage. The guest gets to experience some of the value of Marriott Rewards on property, such as free Wi-Fi. Communication is paramount — there’s broader awareness on television, and references to Marriott Rewards at the front desk, at the restaurant — using every kind of channel.” “In the fall, we launched our Choice Privileges Member Rate; members have access to exclusive rates when they book directly on our website or using our mobile app,” said ChanMcConnell.

GOALS AND THE FUTURE Chan-McConnell thinks the new Choice Privileges is resonating with guests. “Following the redesign, worldwide membership grew by three million in just seven months. Choice Privileges also received the ‘Best Loyalty Program’ distinction on USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice Award list. “If the changes we’ve made help our guests travel more easily to visit their friends and family, then I think we’re heading down the right path,” she said. “Our vision for IHG Rewards Club is to create the most relevant and rewarding relationships with our members by delivering meaningful benefits and personal experiences that they can use at every stage of their travel journey,” said Crisafi. “This means we will continue to evolve our program to meet the needs of our guests and what is most important to them.” “We will be having a lot of conversations about loyalty at our District Meetings,” said Best Western’s Dowling. “I believe in humanity, bringing forth name recognition and thinking of patronage. Every Guest, Every Time is our motto — those meaningful touches are also part of our loyalty program.” “The Hello Rewards program is in its infancy — it’s a two-year-old program and it hasn’t even spread its wings yet, said Red Lion’s Pruchnic. Red Lion now has RevPak, a technology suite with deep integration with all third party partners. “We have data flowing from every operating system and property system. We believe in data driven marketing, and more understanding of our customers. We can get more partnerships that make sense to consumers based on actual data. “We’re here to disrupt and challenge the status quo, and management has embraced that. We don’t have to do things the way they were — we can challenge the industry, and we’re doing it!” Perhaps Marriott’s Bryl put the company’s goals for the future most succinctly. “We don’t necessarily want to be the world’s biggest travel program — we want to be the favourite” she said.

April 2017 | 1 3


Candace Buckley, GM of the Year.

Realstar announces Awards of Recognition winners TORONTO — Realstar Hospitality announced on March 22 the winners of its prestigious Awards of Recognition for 2016. The awards are presented each year to formally recognize the outstanding achievements of the top performing Days Inn hotels and hotel teams from across Canada. “Throughout 2016, these properties worked exceptionally hard to represent the very best that Days Inn has to offer by providing the market with a top quality product and service,” said Irwin Prince, president and COO, Days Inns – Canada, in a release. “Our owners, general managers and their dedicated staff have demonstrated remarkable attention to guest satisfaction and hospitality excellence.” 2016 Awards of Recognition Recipients are as follows: Guest Choice Award: Days Inn & Suites - Lindsay, Ont.; Property of the Year 85 Rooms and Under: Days Inn & Suites - Lindsay, Ont.; Property of the Year 86 Rooms and Over: Days Inn - Thunder Bay North, Ont.; New Property of the Year: Days Inn & Suites - Sherwood Park, Alta.; General Manager of the Year: Candace Buckley, Days Inn & Suites - Lindsay, Ont.; Best Renovation of the Year: Days Inn Cranbrook, B.C.; Housekeeping Team of the Year: Days Inn - Thunder Bay North, Ont.; Days Inner Circle Team of the Year: Days Inn - Edmonton Downtown, Alta.

Karim Mohammadi, Ryerson. of HTM, Ryerson University 14. Jenny Morris, Event Producer and Marketing Partnerships Lead, The Gladstone Hotel 15. Cori Murphy, Executive Pastry Chef, Lavelle 16. Alexander Nacinovich, Sous-Chef, Shangri La Hotel 17. Justin Newell, Chief Steward, Fairmont Royal York 18. Cecil Norman, Sales Representative, Steam Whistle Brewing 19. Christie Oreskovich, Assistant Human Resources Manager, Metro Toronto Convention 20. Matthew Payne, Chef de Cuisine, Treadwell 21. Alex Pearce, Bar Manager, Track & Field Bar 22. Asa Proveau, Brewmaster, Brothers Brewing Company 23. Melissa Pulvermacher, Operations & Logistic Manager, Cru Wine Merchants 24. Kristen Renaud, Assistant Director of Catering, Fairmont Royal York 25. Kitu Sharma, Centralized Operations and Reservations Agent, Four Seasons Hotel 26. Kevin Sinclair, Executive Chef, Thompson Hotel Toronto 27. Kyle Sloopka, General Manager, Kasa Moto 28. Nicholas Stark, Owner, Stark North 29. Andrew Vilhena, Hospitality Director, Mariposa Cruises 30. Adam Weiss, General Manager and Sommelier, Fairouz Restaurant

OHI releases Top 30 under 30

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise recycles butts

TORONTO — Up and coming hoteliers were well-represented among the Ontario Hostelry Institute’s Top 30 under 30. Congratulations to all of them! Here is a list of the finalists. 1. Hannah Bacchus, Assistant General Manager, Beaumont Kitchen 2. Noah Bedard, Charcutier + Bread Maker, The Drake Hotel - Commissary 3. Nicole Campbell, Brand Ambassador + Consignment Sales, Lifford Wine & Spirits 4. Dolphy Chettiar, Bar Manager, Café Grill 5. Felicia DeRose, Executive Sous Chef, The Chase Fish & Oyster 6. Kailey DeRubeis, Assistant Manager, Biff ’s Bistro 7. Kyle Forth, Chef de Cuisine, Brux House 8. Apolline Gaignard, Assistant Housekeeping Manager, Four Seasons Hotel Toronto 9. Jason Kim, General Manager, Malaparte 10. Allen Le, Sous-Chef, Granite Club 11. Takayoshi Li, Chef de Cuisine, Ancaster Mill 12. Alexander McMahon, Wine Director, Fauna 13. Karim Mohammadi, Student Leader, School

LAKE LOUISE, Alta. — Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, through TerraCycle’s free, national Cigarette Waste Recycling Program, has helped the nationwide collection reach a milestone of 73 million cigarette butts diverted from the waste stream, it was announced March 2. Along with keeping butts out of landfills, collectors earn points that can be redeemed for cash donations to the non-profit of the collector’s choice. Through the efforts of collectors like Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, nationwide donations have just passed $53,500. “Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise has an extensive recycling program,” said Mortimer Capriles, environmental systems manager, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, in a release. “As part of our ongoing efforts to improve our environmental performance, the sustainability committee and the grounds team decided to start a cigarette waste recycling program in 2015, with the support of TerraCycle.” TerraCycle is an international recycling company that finds innovative solutions for materi-

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Colleagues at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise clean out cigarette butt containers. als not typically accepted at municipal recycling facilities. The waste collected through the Cigarette Waste Recycling Program is recycled into a variety of industrial products, such as plastic pallets, and any remaining tobacco and paper is recycled as compost. Founded in 2001, TerraCycle is a leader in the collection and reuse of non-recyclable postconsumer waste. It repurposes the waste into sustainable, affordable materials and consumer products. In 21 countries, the waste is collected through programs that donate money to schools and charities.

Hospitality firms honoured with Canada’s Best Managed Companies designation TORONTO — Superior Lodging Corp. has been honoured with the Canada’s Best Managed Companies designation, it was announced March 9. The 2017 Best Managed program recognizes the best-in-class of Canadian-owned and managed companies with revenues over $15 million demonstrating strategy, capability and commitment to achieve sustainable growth. Superior was successful in its efforts to requalify for the designation for a third year due to the strength of its internal human resource and employee support programs and its ability to manage costs while driving revenue in a down economy. The 2017 winners of the Canada’s Best Managed Companies award will be honoured at the annual Canada’s Best Managed Companies gala in Toronto on April 19. Other hospitality winners include: 1. Airline Hotels, Hospitality, Saskatoon, SK,

Gold winner, 5-6 years 2. Canad Inns, Hospitality, Winnipeg, Platinum winner, 8+ years 3. Groupe Germain, Hospitality, Québec, Platinum winner, 8+ years 4. WhiteWater West Industries Ltd., Hospitality, Waterparks and attractions. Richmond, B.C., 2-3 years.

Emirates Salon Culinaire announces winners DUBAI, UAE — This year’s edition of the Emirates Salon Culinaire (ESC) declared winners in a wide range of gastronomic categories at the competition held Feb. 26 to March 2, at the Dubai World Trade Centre, during Gulfood. The competition saw over 1,250 competitors from the United Arab Emirates, Maldives, Russia, South Korea and Bahrain compete in 29 classes across all disciplines of the culinary arts. This year, 26 international judges, alongside 12 UAE-based judges, presided. “The standards were very high,” said Tony Fernandes, executive chef and food and beverage manager at Crowne Plaza Toronto Airport. One of two Canadian judges at the competition, Fernandes judged the beef, live cooking category. The ESC is endorsed by the World Association of chefs Societies. A total of 86 Gold Medals, 161 Silver Medals and 280 bronze medals were awarded during the five-day event. Winners included: Best Effort by an Individual Establishment — Dubai World Trade Center; Best Effort by a Corporation — Jumeirah Group; Best Cuisinier — Dubai International Hotel; and Best Kitchen Artist — Jumeirah Burj Al Arab.

Andy Cuthbert, Worldchefs continental director; Tony Fernandes, executive chef/ F&B director, Crowne Plaza Toronto Airport; Thomas Gugler, Worldchefs president; Martin Kobald, Worldchefs VP; Cornelia Volino, CCFCC Toronto chair; Uwe Micheel, Worldchefs assistant VP; KK Yau, Worldchefs special advisor to Asia.

OPENINGS, SALES AND RENOS Nearly 500 properties in Best Western pipeline BERLIN — Best Western Hotels & Resorts revealed on March 6 a development pipeline of close to 500 properties, placing a strong focus on key international markets. The company currently has 239 international locations underway and another 224 in North America, 60 per cent of which are new-builds. With seven brands, Best Western’s current development pipeline includes 224 properties in North America, 109 in Europe, 49 in Asia, 33 in Oceania (the islands of the tropical Pacific), 20 in South America, 15 in Africa and 13 in the Middle East. The announcement of Best Western’s current pipeline comes on the heels of a strong 2016, which saw the company mark its 70th year in business. In late 2016, Best Western announced the debut of SureStay Hotel Group, designed to provide options to hotel owners dissatisfied by one-sided contracts that don’t deliver. The new ‘white label’ franchise model offers easy conversions to one of three SureStay brands: SureStay, SureStay PLUS and SureStay Signature Collection. “We’ve received quite a bit of traction early in the process, with 30 SureStay hotels already approved, and we are expecting to have 100 open by the end of 2017,” said Ron Pohl, senior vice-president and COO, in a release. In total in 2016, Best Western opened nearly 100 hotels in North America and 102 properties internationally. The company’s portfolio stands at more than 4,100 hotels in 100 countries.

Régent Contades, BW Premier Collection in Strasbourg, France. that all nine of the company’s Fort McMurray, Alta., properties affected by the 2016 wildfires had reopened. The properties reopened following the mandatory evacuation, repair and remediation due to the wildfires that affected the region during the second quarter of 2016. Temple’s Fort McMurray portfolio consists of 889 rooms in nine properties. Eight of the nine Fort McMurray properties had been reopened at various dates during the second quarter. The Radisson Hotel & Suites, which sustained greater fire, smoke and water damage, reopened on Sept. 12. On May 3, 2016, Fort McMurray and the surrounding areas were placed under a mandatory evacuation due to uncontrolled wildfires that extensively damaged the city. The evacuation order, which ended on June 4, prompted the closure, repair and environmental remediation of all of Temple’s Fort McMurray properties. Eight of the company’s nine hotels sustained

Comfort Inn Montréal Aéroport.

limited damage. Certain hotels began receiving guests for emergency and restoration services on May 5, 2016, and eight hotels were reopened at various dates during the second quarter of 2016. The Radisson Hotel & Suites, which sustained greater fire, smoke and water damage, reopened on Sept. 12. The Cortona lease revenues were not impacted by the business interruption. The events in Fort McMurray resulted in an insurance claim under the company’s business interruption policy.

Comfort Montréal Aéroport’s multi-million dollar reno TORONTO — The Comfort Inn Montréal Aéroport in Pointe-Claire has completed a multimillion dollar renovation project designed to offer guests an even better accommodation experience. “The hotel business is very competitive and maintaining and enhancing the quality of our product is critical to continued success,” said

Gassan Baaklini, general manager, Comfort Inn Montréal Aéroport in a release. “Our renovations will make this hotel an even better choice for our guests, both new and returning. The amenities we offer combined with the warm, efficient service delivered by our staff makes us the right choice for guests visiting our city.” With renovations recently completed, the exterior of the building was refreshed with a new roof, energy efficient LED lighting and new stone floors in the entryway flanked by pots of evergreen trees to enhance the guests’ sense of arrival. The interior of the property features an expanded lobby with upgraded furniture, artwork and a large fireplace. There is also a new guest laundry room and fitness centre. Owned and operated by Sunray Group, which is located in Toronto, the Comfort Inn Montréal Aéroport features 97 newly renovated guestrooms.

Nobu plans combination hotel/condo in Toronto TORONTO — Upscale Japanese-fusion restaurant chain Nobu is making its first foray into the Canadian market with a combination hotel/condo complex in Toronto, it was announced March 8. Founded by chef Nobu Matsuhisa, Academy Award-winning actor Robert De Niro and Hollywood producer Meir Teper, the brand is building two 49-storey towers, which are set to include 700 condominium suites, hotel rooms and a 15,000-square-foot restaurant on Mercer Street, in Toronto’s Entertainment District. Construction is expected to begin in 2018. The first Nobu restaurant was launched in New York in 1995 and the brand has since expanded to cities including Beijing, Dubai, Las Vegas, London, Melbourne, Mexico City and Moscow. Nobu hotels are found in cities including Chicago, Malibu, Calif., Manila, Miami and Riyadh. Toronto is the first city to have a restaurant integrated with Nobu-branded highrise residences and a hotel, the company said in a release.

Temple’s nine Fort Mac properties reopened MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — As part of its report on its year-end 2016 financial results, Temple Hotels Inc. announced on Feb. 22

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April 2017 | 1 5

PRODUCTS In-room amenity dispensers

LG Styler

MOSAIC refillable in-room amenity dispensers are easy to install, lock, remove, refill, exchange and clean. They provide savings of up to 50 per cent or more over individually packaged amenities, and eliminate waste and recycling expenses. Dispensers can be customized with a variety of colours, textures or etching designs to match hotel decor. Website: mosaicdispenser.com

LG Styler steam clothing care reduces wrinkles and keeps clothes smelling fresh; reduces odours and allergens by True Steam; gently dries clothing at low temperature via heat pump; and keeps pants creased while reducing wrinkles elsewhere. Accommodates, on hangers, three items (such as shirts) plus one pair of pants. Features include: • Portable Water Fill Container (no hose needed) • Portable Water Drainage Container (no hose needed) • Versatile Rack • Aroma Kit (sheets sold separately) • Pants Crease Care • Moving Hanger Website: lg.com

G-Flex Washer Continental Girbau Inc.’s 33-pound capacity G-Flex Washer delivers six programmable extract speeds, including 100, 140 and 200 G-force. Logi Pro Control features 25 individually modifiable programs, each with up to 11 baths, including multiple prewash, wash and rinse cycles. Smooth Touch stamping system creates drum holes without sharp edges for gentle linen treatment and thorough water evacuation. Website: cgilaundry.com

Pixel Bar LED Fixture Acclaim Lighting introduces Pixel Bar, an outdoor-rated, pixel-controllable, direct-view LED fixture that enhances interior and exterior applications requiring seamless strips of light. Pixel Bar is available in Spectrum RGBW, RGBA, dynamic white (2700 - 6000K) and single colours. It comes with both rounded and flat

diffused lens options, offering beam angles of 180 and 120 degrees, respectively. Website: acclaimlighting.com

Canada 150 Furnishings Paris Site Furnishings and Outdoor Fitness introduces the Canada 150 line of benches, waste receptacles, planters and bike racks to celebrate the country’s sesquicentennial birthday. Available in red, black or white, the collection is rust-proofed and powder-coated to desired colours while providing protection against the elements. Website: peml.com

TECHNOLOGY TravelClick’s new Guest Messenger feature NEW YORK — TravelClick, a provider of cloud-based solutions for hotels to maximize revenue, has launched a new Guest Messenger feature, which is integrated into TravelClick’s Guest Management Solutions (GMS), it was announced Feb. 27. With this tool, hoteliers can have text conversations with guests before, during and after stays to further engage guests and personalize the guest experience, and build loyalty. Guest Messenger allows hoteliers to send marketing messages via text to all opted-in guests who are on the property, converse with guests individually, set up email notifications to alert staff to respond to messages and store conversation histories on the GMS guest profile to personalize future communications based on preferences. Hoteliers can also chat with guests via Facebook Messenger and WeChat if preferred, with other messenger app integrations planned.

TrustYou forges partnerships NEW YORK — Guest feedback platform TrustYou has forged new partnerships across the globe, it was announced March 9. Each new partner will incorporate various features of the

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platform to improve their products and services by means of collecting, assessing and responding to guest feedback. The expansion of the portfolio includes chain hotels as well as independent properties worldwide. TrustYou plans to continue its growth through an enhanced presence at trade shows worldwide, such as ITB Berlin. TrustYou’s partnership with AccorHotels has recently been extended, as the hotel group acquired Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel hotels and resorts. The 113 properties are now utilizing AccorHotels’ Voice of the Guest platform, powered by TrustYou, enabling them to analyze all customer feedback that is shared by travellers across the web and send out customized poststay surveys to ensure the best quality for guests throughout all Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel Hotels worldwide.

ABB inks strategic alliance With DigiValet SINGAPORE — Tablet-based guestroom solution company DigiValet has entered into a strategic alliance with ABB, it was announced Feb. 19. As part of the alliance, DigiValet and ABB will collaborate to integrate DigiValet’s solutions with ABB’s acclaimed KNX building automation technology products suite.

DigiValet is the world’s first full-featured guestroom experience solution that enables hotel guests to conveniently use in-room services as well as services offered by the hotel. With offices and support teams in several countries across the globe, DigiValet is installed in over 12,000 rooms and counting. Since its launch in 2008, DigiValet has become the inroom solution used by brands such as The Armani Hotels, St. Regis, Andaz By Hyatt, ITC Hotels, Corinthia Hotels, Sofitel SO, The Address Hotels and The Oberoi Hotels.

LodgIQ’s new platform BERLIN — LodgIQ announced, in early March, the rollout of 250 global markets that are now available on its newest platform, LodgIQ ONE. Launched in October 2016, LodgIQ ONE revenue optimization platform allows hoteliers to self-onboard any property in less than five minutes. The platform uses LodgIQ’s market-based forecasting and optimization algorithms in conjunction with its machine learning platform, making hotel pricing easier for independent or smaller branded hotels. The product is designed to make smarter pricing decisions by determining, in real time, the true competitive set of any hotel.

LodgIQ’s patented technology is being deployed at over 500 hotels across the globe. In 2017, the company expects to increase its offerings globally by being in 500 markets and having 3,000 hotels utilize its technology.

Expedia introduces Guest Review Insights SEATTLE, Wash. — Expedia, Inc. has announced Guest Review Insights, a new sentiment analysis tool to help hotels manage and improve their online reputation, and as a result, attract more travellers while maximizing guest experiences on- property. With Guest Review Insights, hundreds, or sometimes even thousands, of reviews are organized and analyzed automatically to provide hotel partners with actionable insights: hotels can quickly understand what amenities and services guests are raving about as well as guest experience opportunities moving forward. Other features include aggregated reviews analysis; categorized pre-filtered insights; competitive comparison; and trend identification. Guest Review Insights is available through Expedia PartnerCentral, the company’s self-service partner portal. The initial rollout of Guest Review Insights is underway to English speaking properties as of early 2017.


Jane Kingston, general manager, Alt Hotels St. John’s.

Josh Lesnick, president/CEO, Associated Luxury Hotels.

Canadian David Ludwig is now EVP and CFO, Red Lion.

Associated Luxury Hotels has named Josh Lesnick president and CEO, it was announced March 7. He comes to Associated Luxury Hotels from Wyndham Hotel Group, where he served as executive vice-president and chief marketing officer. In his new role, Lesnick will oversee all business operations and subsidiaries of Associated Luxury Hotels, which recently acquired Frankfurt, Germany-based Worldhotels. Alt Hotel St. John’s has named Jane Kingston as its new general manager, it was announced March 7. Originally from Ireland, Kingston brings two decades of hospitality experience to the Alt team, having worked in almost every area of hotel operations and management both in Europe and St. John’s, where she was general manager of a local hotel Choice Hotels International, Inc. has appointed Keith Biumi to the position of regional vice-president, membership development of the Ascend Hotel Collection. Biumi has more than 25 years of experience in the hotel industry in domestic and international markets, with broad expertise in development, franchising, brand marketing, finance and hotel operations. Choice Hotels International also appointed Dominic E. Dragisich chief financial officer. Dragisich brings diverse experience in both finance and business administration to Choice, and will lead the company’s financial strategy as well as play a key role in strategic corporate growth initiatives, with a focus on company performance and shareholder value. He joins Choice from XO Communications, and has held key finance and operational positions at Marriott International, NII Holdings and Deloitte Consulting. David Flueck has been appointed senior vice-president, loyalty at Marriott International, it was announced Feb. 28. Flueck joined Marri-

Dom Dragisich, CFO, Choice Hotels International.

David Flueck, SVP Loyalty, Marriott International.

Ty Acton, president of laundry product supplier Tingue, left, with David Tingue, the company’s CEO.

ott with the company’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels and Resorts in September 2016 and served as senior vice-president, revenue management and Starwood Preferred Guest. In his new role, Flueck will report to Marriott’s global marketing officer, Karin Timpone. As part of the new leadership structure, Thom Kozik will continue in his role as vicepresident of loyalty, leading Marriott Rewards and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and reporting to Flueck. In addition, Kozik will take on added responsibilities for strategic initiatives. Industry veteran Michael Muir, executive vice-president, Live Oak Bank, died March 10, at age 50, it was announced March 13. Well known in hospitality and financial circles, Muir began his career with Days Inns of America and Holiday Inn, after which he helped launch US Franchise Systems, in Atlanta. Before joining Live Oak Bank, he served as senior vice-president at Wyndham Worldwide before moving to Best Western Hotels and Resorts, where he was vice-president/chief development officer. Red Lion Hotels Corporation (RLHC) has appointed Douglas L. Ludwig as its new executive vice-president, chief financial officer and treasurer. Ludwig, a Canadian citizen, joined the company at the end of March after the U.S. work authorization process was completed. He will succeed interim CFO David Wright, who will resume his role as the company’s VP of accounting, tax and external reporting on Ludwig’s start date. Randy Smith, chairman and co-founder of STR, was named the 2016 Albert E. Koehl Award winner by the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association (HSMAI), it was announced Feb. 22. Smith was honored at a Feb. 21 Adrian Awards Dinner and Reception at the New York Marriott Marquis. Smith, and his late wife Carolyn, founded STR in 1985 as a two-

person, U.S. hotel census and data benchmarking company. Today, STR employs more than 300 people in 16 countries, providing data and analytics services to the global hotel industry as well as additional sectors like self storage and health clubs. Laundry product supplier Tingue has named Ty Acton president, it was announced Feb. 22. Promoted from vice-president, sales by CEO David Tingue, Acton is responsible for implementing the company’s overall strategic direction, driving its sales strategy and leading the fourth-generation, family-owned organization founded in 1902 on a global expansion that already encompasses operating businesses in the U.S., Canada, Asia and Latin America. Acton joined the company in 1983 as field sales representative and assumed increasingly demanding roles and responsibilities as regional sales manager, national sales manager and vice-president, sales en route to leading the company as president.

Industry veteran Mike Muir has passed away.

at the time as “an absolute wreck” — and transformed it into the elegant country property it is today, featuring 61 guestrooms and boasting a TripAdvisor rating of 4.9 out of five stars. Born in Zurich, Switzerland, Koeppel grew up working in his parents’ restaurant. In 1971, he earned a diploma from the Hotel Management School of Lausanne, and while participating in a management exchange program at the Boston Ritz-Carlton, he worked at The Eastern Slope Inn, in North Conway, N.H.
 According to his biography, Koeppel continued his hospitality career as resident manager of The RitzCarlton in Chicago and was soon promoted to general manager of the Four Seasons Hotel in Edmonton, which won its first AAA Five Diamond award under his management.
 He then managed The Four Seasons Inn on the Park, in Toronto, and directed its renovation, before overseeing the Four Seasons’ acquisition of the Biltmore Hotel, in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Rounding out two decades of working at some of the best resorts in the world, Koeppel next served as general manager at the Banff Springs Hotel, in Banff, Alta., before striking out on his own. Koeppel is survived by his wife, Ellie, and his sons Alex and Erik.

Fritz Koeppel, who managed two Canadian Four Seasons properties as well as the Banff Springs Hotel, died March 3 at his home in Jackson, N.H., following an extended battle with cancer. At the time of his death, Koeppel owned the Wentworth Inn, in Jackson Village, N.H. In 1990, Koeppel bought the inn — described

April 2017 | 1 7


Andaz inspires indigenous experiences

Andaz Ottawa Copper Rooftop Lounge.

Andaz Ottawa king guestroom with corner view. By Don Douloff, Assistant Editor OTTAWA — As part of its mission statement, Hyatt’s luxury lifestyle Andaz brand aims to create inspiring, indigenous experiences that immerse guests in the best local culture of each destination. Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market, the brand’s first Canadian hotel, achieves that goal thoroughly and impressively. Indeed, the hotel’s design sought to be “reflective of the neighbourhood” and to tell a “national story” appropriate to Ottawa’s status as Canada’s capital, said general manager Matt Graham. The Andaz brand “is always contemporary in tone, palette and materials,” he noted. Opened last August, in the heart of Ottawa’s historic ByWard Market, chock-

May 12: Greater Toronto Hotel Association 6th Annual Spirit Awards, Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Constitution Hall. Contact: Bonnie Medensky. Tel.: 416-351-1276. Email: spiritawards@gtha.com. Website: gtha.com May 15-16: Canadian Hotel Investment Conference. Westin Harbour Castle, Toronto. Contact: Vicki Welstead. Tel. 416-924-2002, ext. 233. Email: vickiwelstead@bigpictureconferences.ca. Website: hotelinvest.ca May 16: HOTELNEXT, Student Competition, Westin Harbour Castle, Toronto. Contact:

1 8 | Canadian Lodging News

a-block with chic boutiques, galleries, restaurants and nightlife, the 16-storey property features 200 guestrooms, six studios spanning 4,500 square feet of flexible function space, a ground-floor restaurant and bar, and a rooftop lounge offering sweeping views of the Ottawa cityscape. The property is owned by Ottawa-based real estate company Claridge Homes. Spearheaded by Toronto-based Mason Studio, the design fosters a sense of place by showcasing Canadian designers, materials and visual references. Natural woods, stones and mixed metals articulate a minimalist, modern aesthetic. Sculptural gestures connect throughout the property, creating cohesion. For example, all elevator lobbies feature a deconstructed tree log, spanning from

floor-to-ceiling, that conceptually ties the building together from lobby to rooftop. On each level, the artwork within the elevator lobby and throughout the corridor references native plants, animals and resources of a specific Canadian province or territory. Signature restaurant feast + revel highlights the natural resources and geographical landscape of the country via, for instance, a wood pergola configuration based on aerial patterns of farmland crops; a host stand that is a projection of Lake Ontario; and a harvest table made of Canadian granite. On the menu are dishes fashioned from locally sourced chocolate, elk, chicken and vegetables. In the lobby lounge/check-in area, a sculptural installation incorporates objects showcasing artefacts that speak to the minds of influential Canadians. This piece is still in development, but plans call for it to explore key figures and moments from politicians to poets and artists. Above the lounge is a lighting installation made from six Canadian wood species. Second-floor studios are a flexible and transitional space for guests and events. Wide-plank hardwood flooring and plush carpeting give a nod to residential-style design accents. Subtle industrial gestures with metal framed sliding doors reference a loft-like residential feel. Intimate spaces are created with operable partitions that divide the space or expand for large-scale functions. Seating by Ottawa-based furniture designer Laura Langford anchors comfortable lounge spaces for breakout and prefunction areas. In the 16th-floor bar and patio, low upholstered seating minimizes obstructions of the view (of the Parliament Buildings and river). Highlighting the floor is a patio outfitted with tiered banquette seating and open firepits. Lush planters with low greenery create intimate enclaves. Elsewhere, suites feature a continuation of regionally inspired objects and materials such as felt wall coverings that conjure a foggy landscape in warm taupes and greys complemented by plush carpeting with a graphic deconstructed petal pattern.

COMING EVENTS Vicki Welstead. Tel. 416-924-2002, ext. 233. Email: vickiwelstead@bigpictureconferences.ca. Website: hotelinvest.ca May 15-16: SAHIC Cuba, Melia Cohiba Hotel, Cuba. Contact: Cecilia Corti. Tel: +54 (11) 5217-4543. Email: ccorti@sahic.com. Website: sahiccuba. com. May 30-31: Saskatchewan Hotel & Hospitality Association Convention & Trade Show, Regina, Sask. Delta Regina. Contact: Warren Nerby. Tel.: 306-5221664, ext. 2. Fax: 306-525-1944. Email:

TOP 5 LIST Top 5 Questions on Ontario’s AODA Accessibility Legislation

From left, Andrew Morrison, Christina DiRocco and Fatima Finnegan of ORHMA at the Toronto information session. By Colleen Isherwood, Editor TORONTO — Fatima Finnegan of Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association (ORHMA) has spent the past several weeks travelling around Ontario, helping hoteliers and restaurateurs understand the requirements of Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). The six seminars, held in various Ontario centres, came in response to the many queries from ORHMA members regarding the legislation, including calls from people who had been charged with compliance issues. Here are the top five questions identified by Finnegan at the final road show seminar held at the Toronto International Centre last month. #1: How do I report to the government? A: The information can be found at www.ontario.ca/accessibility #2: Can a business ask for certification for service animals? A: Service animals, including guide dogs, are identified by a vest or harness. It is acceptable to ask for certification papers. (ORHMA can show you what a real certification paper looks like, as there are fakes.) #3: In most hotels, there is a policy to accept a deposit for animals. Would the same apply for working dogs? If the hotel already charges for pets, can they charge? A: Service animals are not pets and a deposit should not be charged. ORHMA notes that there are cases where service animals have misbehaved, and has objected to this requirement. #4: If requested by a client or employee, does the company have to pay for a sign language interpreter? A: Yes, not only under AODA legislation but also Human Rights legislation.

Wnerby@sasktel.net. Website: shha.co June 26-29: HITEC Toronto, Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Contact: Frank Garza. Telephone: 512-220-4034. Email: frank.garza@hftp.org. Website: hftp.org/hitec Oct. 23-25: Shared Ownership Investment Conference, Eden Roc Resort, Miami Beach. Information: 877-7001153 / 305-668-3495. Email: information@sharedownershipinvestment.com. Fax: 305-668-3413. Website: sharedownershipinvestment.com.

#5. Do we have to renovate our building to be accessible? A: The Ontario Building Code amendments came into effect on Jan. 1, 2015. This applies to new construction and extensive renovations. The code covers a range of areas, such as: • Visual fire alarms • Barrier-free path of travel • Accessible washrooms • Automatic doors • Accessible and adaptable seating spaces For more information, contact ORHMA at 1-800668-8906 or www.orhma.com

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Canadian Lodging News, April 2017  

Canadian Lodging News, April 2017  

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