STAY Magazine, Vol. 3 Issue 4

Page 1

Heritage + hotels: Preserving history and creating destinations

HIRING: Standing out from the pack as an employer

Winnipeg’s Inn at the Forks

2023 is shaping up to be a banner year, in conversation with HVS Canada

Modern luxury inspired by culture & authenticity

July / August 2023
LEVERAGING AI IN CANADIAN HOTEL OPERATIONS

July/August 2023

Volume 3 Issue 4

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Publisher

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Editor-in-Chief

Stacey Newman stacey@staymagazine.ca

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Mike Egan mike@staymagazine.ca

Art Director

Jayesh Bhagat jayesh-bhagat.com

Contributors

Jim Byers, Carter Hammett, Val Upfold, Jessica Gedge, Omar H. Fares, Stacey Newman

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STAY is published six times per year by Big Picture New Media (BPNM), a subsidiary of Big Picture Conferences. For 26 years, Big Picture has been hosting the Canadian Hotel Investment Conference (CHIC) and other go-to conferences and events for Canada’s hotel industry. Subscription price: $110 per year, most single issues $18.95.

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Toronto, ON M4V 1K9

Editorial Advisory Board

Robin McLuskie Managing Director, Hotels, Colliers Hotels

Brian Leon President, Choice Hotels Canada

Brian Flood EVP and Practice Leader, Hospitality and Gaming, Cushman & Wakefield

Scott Richer VP, Real Estate and Development (Canada), Hyatt Hotels

Ed Khediguian Senior VP, CWB Franchise Finance

Bill Stone President, Knightstone Hotel Group

Gunjan Kahlon VP Franchise Sales and Development, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts

Judy Sparkes-Giannou Co-Owner, Clayton Hospitality Inc.

Deborah Borotsik Senior VP, Beechwood Real Estate Advisors

Alan Perlis President & CEO, Knightstone Capital Management and CEO, Knightstone, Hotel Group

Alnoor Gulamani President, Bayview Hospitality Inc.

Christina Poon General Manager, Hotel W New York – Union Square

Phil Thompson Business Lawyer, Thompson Transaction Law

Sandra Kanegawa Owner, Heritage Inn Portfolio, X-Dream

36 28 14 July/August 2023 CONTENTS On the Cover Inn at the Forks Winnipeg, Man. Photo courtesy of Inn at the Forks 3 EDITOR’S NOTE Cross industry check-up as travellers are checking in 5 PROFILE Winnipeg’s Inn at the Forks MODERN LUXURY INSPIRED BY CULTURE & AUTHENTICITY 9 HIRING Standing out from the pack as an employer 14 HOTELS & HERITAGE The Postmark Hotel - Reinventing Newmarket’s Clock Tower 18 INTELLIGENCE Mid-year 2023 checkup with HVS Canada 28 TECHNOLOGY – AI Enhancing hotel businesses with AI-powered chatbots What’s so special about ChatGPT? Expert POV 36 BUSINESS CASE STUDY Elora Mill: Through the years, revitalizing property & business 43 HUMAN TRAFFICKING & THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY Eyes Wide Open: Part one in our series Winnipeg’s Inn at the Forks Modern luxury inspired by culture & authenticity Standing out from the pack as an employer Heritage hotels: Preserving history and creating destinations 2023 is shaping up to be banner year, in conversation with HVS Canada LEVERAGING AI IN CANADIAN July August 2023
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CONVERSATIONS ACROSS THE INDUSTRY ARE NOTICEABLY BUOYANT, THOUGH STILL TINGED WITH UNCERTAINTY.

Some markets and segments continue to experience challenges. Business group travel, U.S. and international travellers—these numbers aren’t yet where we need them to be. And the threat of some sort of recession is tempering any confidence we’re feeling.

Adding to the hesitation this summer for consumers and industry has been the threat of nature’s wrath. Moreover, the tenor of media coverage regarding these situations has become exaggerated and sensational in an ever-competitive and tumultuous media landscape. Between conditions like changing air quality and weather cycles like La Niña, wildfire smoke, storms, and even the presence of seasonal insect populations—how the mainstream media learns about and then reports on stories related to or about Canadian hotels and the travel and tourism sectors has affected traveller decision-making and likely business decision-making as well. Not to wax too philosophical, but I would argue that we’ve lost a good amount of our humanity in the way we create and consume news today as a global society.

If there is anything that we hope to do through our work in STAY Magazine, it is to leave our readers informed, reflective; more connected and empowered. This means looking at difficult issues without shying away from our collective responsibility. With this in mind, we begin our series on human trafficking and hospitality in this issue.

Canadian hotels have defied the odds and expectations over 2023 thus far. This has lulled us into a sense of stability and optimism and that’s a terrific place to be in as we move into the latter half of the year. We’re seeing big and interesting transactions taking place, wins for the industry in terms of workforce bolstering and government regulation, brands repositioning and improving their properties, and events hopping across the country!

In this issue, we also spend some time with ChatGPT and we get our AI on.

Please enjoy reading about the companies, people and places we have profiled on these pages, and we look forward to hearing more of your stories throughout the summer months.

EDITOR’S NOTE
July August 2023 | staymagazine.ca | 3

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WINNIPEG’S INN AT THE FORKS

STAY MAGAZINE HAS BEEN CHATTING WITH HOTELIERS ACROSS CANADA WHO DEMONSTRATE EXTRAORDINARY VISION, STAMINA AND WHO CONTRIBUTE TO THE GROWTH AND PROSPERITY OF CANADA’S REMARKABLE MOSAIC OF HOTEL BUSINESSES.

In this issue, we present an interview with Joel Waterman, the general manager at Winnipeg's Inn at the Forks, a boutique property in the heart of the city's biggest tourism destination. Owned by Sparrow Hotels, with deep roots in the Winnipeg community, with more than 80 years in the hospitality industry, Inn at the Forks has grown alongside a city shaped by culture and hospitality.

Profile
July August 2023 | staymagazine.ca | 5

Tell

us about your hotel. What do you bring to the hotel scene in Winnipeg that might not have been there before?

Inn at the Forks is Winnipeg’s only boutique lifestyle hotel experience. We’re located at the heart of The Forks, which is Winnipeg’s top tourist destination. That means the Inn is a stone’s throw from the best dining, shopping, museums and history that our city has to offer. The hotel is home to SMITH Restaurant and Riverstone Spa, so we offer luxuries that are unparalleled anywhere else in the city.

How did things do during the pandemic?

It was a very tough two years. Our total revenues were reduced anywhere from 75 to 95 per cent at times. The province of Manitoba essentially saw three separate “lockdowns” through the pandemic, so our food and beverage operations suffered greatly, with vastly reduced business levels and, ultimately, a loss of much of our staff. Pre-pandemic, the hotel employed as many as 175 associates. At one point during the pandemic, we were down to 12. Subsidies, being agile, and having versatile employees kept us on our feet.

How many employees do you have now?

We’re at about 165, which is very close to prepandemic levels.

When did things start to get back to normal?

There were glimpses of light at times during the pandemic, but things didn’t really return to close to normal levels until the spring of 2022. Room revenues began to take off in May 2022, and have been consistently improving ever since. Food and beverage, along with spa revenues, hovered around “normal” and have started to exceed pre-pandemic numbers in the last two to three months.

Where would you say are now compared to 2019?

Do you think cities are still behind rural areas in terms of their recovery?

Room revenues are anywhere from 20 per cent to 40 per cent better than in 2019, particularly driven by rate. I’d say cities and rural seem fairly equal in their recovery.

Profile
6 | staymagazine.ca | July August 2023
Joel Waterman. general manager. Photo courtesy of Inn at the Forks.

How do you think Winnipeg’s market compares to other Canadian cities?

It seems we are keeping pace with the rest of the country on RevPAR increases. It’s encouraging to see ADR being grown significantly in our city, as rate integrity/growth was a long-standing issue here. It is also very necessary at this time, given minimum wage increases and challenges with the rising cost of goods.

How do you think customers and their demands/ requirements have changed since 2019?

Customer demand and requirements have seemingly slipped back into what they were before Covid. There is little difference, other than some idiosyncrasies around safety and offerings in catering operations. Clients have been generally understanding of the challenges our industry has faced.

Is staffing an issue in your area?

It was a significant issue last fall into early 2023. It has stabilized, although much of our workforce is new to the industry. We employ many Ukrainians who have landed here in Canada due to the conflict at home. Finding culinary talent continues to be a challenge, but most other areas are pretty solid.

Have you raised prices?

Yes. Across the board.

What’s your take on 2023 and the looming summer season? Are there issues that keep you awake at night?

2023 is off to a tremendous start and we don’t foresee that changing. There is likely more rate opportunity to be had in the months to come. What’s keeping me awake at night? I’d say an eventual slowing of this bounce-back demand, paired with inflationary challenges.

Profile
July August 2023 | staymagazine.ca | 7
Platinum junior suite. Photo courtesy of Inn at the Forks.
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STANDING OUT FROM THE PACK AS AN EMPLOYER

Securing great hospitality talent remains a challenge; here’s how to improve your interview process.

We often hear insights on how to stand out as a candidate in the interview process, but what about standing out as an employer? A year ago, amidst unprecedented times with severe labour shortages in hospitality, I was witnessing candidates who had a choice of two or more job offers, putting them firmly in the driver’s seat. While the condition of “multiple offers per candidate” has slowed slightly, with more returning to hospitality, employers should always be considering how they appear from that initial interaction, and use the interview process to build their brand as a solid employer, even if the relationship doesn’t go further than this.

As an employer, how do you differentiate amongst a sea of hospitality brands battling for talent?

Consider time, and using less of it, as a differentiator. Regardless of industry, there are issues of time with companies’ recruitment practices. Of course, hiring shouldn’t be rushed and should be a considered process, but on the other hand, unnecessary delays could cause candidates to lose interest and trust, and move on to accepting another role.

Hiring
July August 2023 | staymagazine.ca | 9

• Call or email back everyone you interview within 48 hours with a clear reason why they are not moving on in the process. Even though they may not be in the running right now, always keep the possibility open for later.

• Candidates would like the span to be 1-2 weeks from first interview to job offer, and yet the average for employers is 38 days. Be organized and intentional about hiring; aim to interview all candidates within a tight window so the process can start and finish efficiently.

• Consider reducing the number of steps to make it a faster process; can you introduce a panel interview that includes a couple of the key players who should meet potential candidates?

• Be prepared to present the offer during the last interview. Typically, you go into a final interview wanting to cross the T’s and dot the I’s, having a pretty good idea that the candidate is the one you want to move forward with.

Hiring
A few points about time that go a long way in communicating what type of employer you are;
10 | staymagazine.ca | July August 2023

Communicate transparency and equity

In today’s hospitality landscape, the majority demographics (Gen Zs and Millennials) are looking for alignment between their personal values and their work more than the generations before them. According to a 2021 Deloitte study, nearly two in five say they have rejected a job because it did not align with their values. Consider how your company values are coming to light in the interview process.

Here are some approaches to consider:

• Offer salary transparency in the job posting by sharing a range, kicking off the relationship from a place of honesty. British Columbia is exploring new pay transparency legislation for good reason – certain measures can serve to eliminate inequities in pay across gender, race, age, etc. Gen Z is very concerned with social equity so this will make you more attractive as an employer.

• Pay candidates for the time for an interview. Consider compensating your candidates for the interview –recognize the time it took to secure the interview, prepare for it, and the time they may have taken off work, or away from other duties, such as caregiving, plus transportation costs associated.

• This is also a way to increase diversity in the talent pool as some solid candidates may typically be unable to interview due to an inability to miss a day’s pay for example. This could even be an offer of $50 for the interview time; a small acknowledgement of the investment of time towards wanting to work with your company.

• Send the interview questions beforehand. Some people don’t excel in an interview format, and that doesn’t mean they aren’t right for the role you’re hiring for. Give them the tools to prepare.

• Consider peer interviewing. Putting candidates in front of those at their level relays a level of trust instilled in their current employees, and it starts to build a connection amongst potential future colleagues.

Hiring July August 2023 | staymagazine.ca | 11

Good candidates are interviewing you too

While pay is the number one reason why Gen Zs and Millennials left a role in the last two years, good work/ life balance, and learning and development opportunities are also top priorities when considering an employer. Make sure you are clearly articulating what makes your company stand out.

For example:

• Talk about your onboarding process (and make sure there is one!) – and the fact a career development path is discussed from the very beginning – show that you want to understand what their ultimate career looks like and how this job can play a role in that.

• It may be that a candidate is seeking front of house intending to move into another field in the future; acknowledge that there are opportunities to exercise their long-term interest (if there are), e.g. if a marketing career is their goal, they could participate in brainstorms on marketing for the company, or support an hour a week with social media content, etc.

• Highlight any mentorship opportunities and consider reverse mentorship; showing you appreciate that all team members regardless of level, can learn from one another.

• Speak to any self-improvement budget that is allocated for employees where they can get involved in learning opportunities that lead them further along their career path.

• Talk up the culture, highlighting what makes it special, e.g. that you hire people for culture-add, not culturefit, and that it is encouraged that failures are shared, accepted and learned from.

• Acknowledge that you respect everyone who has a life outside of work and that the company wants to be as flexible as possible to allow for peoples’ lives to thrive; give examples of this from your own schedule or team members to illustrate it’s true.

Hiring
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The bottom line is that you want every interaction with your company to be considered an opportunity to create a fan of your brand; whether they end up being an employee or not. We’ve heard about the increase in ‘ghosting’ between employers and employees - a term borrowed from the dating scene for never getting in touch again after an interaction. Let’s be human on both ends and ensure every inquiry and interview within a hiring process is dealt with transparency, decency, and in a timely manner. After all, most of us spend more time at work than with our loved ones – and the relationship should be treated with respect. This is how you will stand out.

Val Upfold is an executive recruiter and HR consultant with 25+ years working within Ontario’s hospitality scene. Starting her career as a manager and sommelier at Oliver & Bonacini before building the HR department for the company. Throughout her recruiting career, she has worked with the likes of Ascari Group, Don Alfonso and Drake Hotel Properties.

valupfold.com

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THE POSTMARK HOTELREINVENTING NEWMARKET’S CLOCK TOWER

The Postmark Hotel and its role in reviving a beloved public space, the importance of community collaboration, and why local art matters.

Heritage + Hotels
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BOUTIQUE HOTELS CAN ACT AS A DRIVER FOR TOURISM AND HELP CREATE A SENSE OF PLACE FOR VISITORS. The new Postmark Hotel, expected to open in the Fall of 2023, aims to be a lively destination for locals and travellers to experience the culture of Newmarket, Ont.

The Postmark Hotel, per its moniker, first opened as a post office in 1915 and operated until the 1990s. It will be Newmarket's first boutique hotel, located at 180 Main St. in the heart of town. The designated heritage property has been a much-loved central figure in the downtown area. The announcement in 2021 that it would become a hotel was received well by the community. Streetcar Developments, partnered with Dream Unlimited Corp., was clear about its plans to reimagine the former Clock Tower while preserving iconic heritage elements.

I spoke with Lee Petrie, curator for The Postmark, who also curates art for The Postmark’s sister hotels, The Broadview

Hotel and Gladstone House (all under the Archive Hospitality umbrella, owned by Streetcar Developments and Dream Unlimited.). Petrie mentioned how committed the leadership and staff are to maintaining artistic integrity and ensuring the hotel continues to be a landmark, point of admiration and hub in the Newmarket downtown area.

When a community landmark such as this is revitalized, there lies a fine line between modernizing the space and maintaining the integrity of the original building. Petrie shared how The Postmark manages to accomplish this, “The post office used to be an important meeting spot in the community - home mail delivery wasn’t available until 1957—so everyone in town would go to the post office, catch up on local news, and get together. The Postmark aims to continue this way of connectingphysically and philosophically taking the building back to its roots where folks can meet, engage and have conversations. There is a carved post office original stamp to showcase what the building

originally was, and we use beautiful lighting to highlight the building’s architectural features.”

She adds, “We want to highlight the interesting architectural features outside. What guests will notice when they enter the lobby is that it's a very open area. But rather than feeling cavernous or transactional, it is bright and welcoming. We’ll have a living room feel, with comfortable furniture arranged in conversation groups and salonstyle art—it won’t be sterile or have an antiseptic feel.”

There is an ongoing conversation between old and new in all the Archive Hospitality properties—where the outer facade and interior have a symbiotic relationship. Petrie says, “The interior won’t look like your great-grandmother's house, but also won’t veer too far into modernism and be an aggressive white box. All our properties, The Postmark Hotel included, aim for a warm, inviting, and approachable vibe.”

Heritage + Hotels
July August 2023 | staymagazine.ca | 15
Images and conceptual renderings are courtesy of Streetcar Developments.

Heritage + Hotels

Adding to the sense of place, The Postmark involved the local artistic community when developing the art program. The goal was to curate a local and regional flavour for the art. The call for artists centred around Newmarket and extended to a 60km radius. Artists who had a meaningful connection with Newmarket were encouraged to apply (those who grew up or attended school there). Petrie also made an early connection to a local group, the Newmarket Group of Artists -who acted as ambassadors to the local artist community to share The Postmark’s opportunity.

The result of this careful curation is that The Postmark will house work by 43 artists in the hotel—28 of the guest rooms will have original art, with the other 27 incorporating archival or stamp images. Each room will focus on one artist and incorporate different media, styles, and artistic techniques. As such, each room offers a distinct art experience. The lobby will feature work by 15 artists.

When asked what will make The Postmark stand out from other hotels, Petrie says, “The focus in all of our properties is to highlight local and regional artists, giving guests a specific sense of the community that they’re in. The local connection is crucial and informs our decisions around partnerships and the artists we showcase. It carries through to food and beverage, where we partner with local farms and winemakers to showcase things particular to the area. It’s less about a specific aesthetic and more about the vibrant main street.” Petrie added that participating in Newmarket events such as Pride and Canada Day has cemented The Postmark’s place as part of a very active and tight-knit community.

The Postmark will have 55 rooms —within the 55, ten rooms will have kitchenettes, and five will be wheelchair accessible.

The hotel will also have event space, including a main floor bistro café bar, a rooftop restaurant with private

dining space and an event space to host weddings, corporate events and community-focused programming.

Since there are no other boutique properties in Newmarket, The Postmark will fill a niche and complement rather than compete with businesses on Main Street—much of that owing to the sense of collaboration and warm response from the community.

Hotels reflect the communities that they’re in, and The Postmark wants to continue its legacy of being a welcoming place for neighbours. Petrie encourages the local community to stop by for a coffee, bring their family for dinner, or host an event and enjoy the experience of being in the space as well as the high level of hospitality. When asked how The Postmark wants people to feel when they enter the hotel, Petrie says, “We want our guests—whether they're staying with us, coming for dinner or an event, or just looking around—to feel welcome and comfortable and to feel that we've given new life to this community landmark.”

Newmarket Post Office, 1927.
16 | staymagazine.ca | July August 2023
Source: Library & Archives Canada

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MID-YEAR 2023 CHECKUP WITH HVS CANADA

CARRIE RUSSELL AND TOM BECKETT OF HVS CANADA SAT DOWN WITH US AT STAY MAGAZINE TO TALK ABOUT THE STATE OF THE CANADIAN HOTEL SECTOR as we leap into the second half of 2023. The first half of the year has shown us what normal means today, which segments are still catching up, and where money is being invested. Overall, we're in a sweet spot—a very good place—with a keen eye on what's coming next.

In terms of the Canadian Hotel Review numbers—there's not a market in Canada not exceeding 2019 RevPAR performance in nominal terms, some of them dramatically. For example, the Fraser Valley is up over 60 per cent, Winnipeg is up over 50 per cent, and at the lower end of the good is Regina around 5 per cent up.

Hoteliers are making money. Labour is still a challenge but a lesser one. “We're no longer hearing that hotels are shutting down blocks of rooms this summer because they don't have enough staff. The workforce issues have started to normalize a little bit,” says Russell.

Financing is available, it is more expensive and perhaps it’s not the kind of deals that people were getting before, but it is accessible. “We're busy with the basics, working on refinancings for owners, working with partners doing estate and succession planning—the types of reconciling that maybe didn't get done during Covid,” she continues. “In the West, we’re involved in feasibility work in and around the boutique one-off kinds of deals,” she says.

Russell also says that there are some major developments being considered in the urban centres, but so far these tend to be one-off larger projects.

The bulk of the business Russell and Beckett are seeing is on the appraisal side vs. feasibility. Eastern Canada is seeing a greater share of the new project work being feasibility or construction financing.

What does ‘normal’ mean today, particularly with the threat of recession still lurking?

The recovery has gone well across the board. There are not many markets still recovering from a loss of a specific

Intelligence
18 | staymagazine.ca | July August 2023

segment. Although international and U.S. traveller numbers are still recovering. In the first quarter of 2023, the U.S., our largest non-domestic market, was still 20 per cent behind where it was in 2019. Asia Pacific was over 40 per cent behind.

International and U.S. travellers tend to stay here for longer periods and they spend more. So, to have the rate growth that has been achieved with these markets not back to full strength is a positive indicator for the industry. “Because we have had such strong rate growth, I think there's some hesitancy out there in terms of the question, ‘Can these rates be sustained?” says Russell.

Even adjusted for inflation, a lot of rates across the country are well ahead of 2019. “When you think of those visitors that pay more and stay longer not being fully back yet, rates are going to be sustained. If not on rate, there will be the potential for occupancy growth in markets that would capture that demand. There’s a good helping of optimism,” offers Beckett.

It was thought that we would be sitting in the middle of a recession by this point in the year. Russell explains, “If you listen to any economist, something is coming, there is going to be some sort of slowdown. But how that impacts the hotel space remains to be seen. If people still have jobs, and it looks like it could be a recession where the unemployment rate stays low, people will still be seeking downtime, vacation, travel and breaks from the every day.”

There are good segments of the economy. The Canadian dollar is in a very favourable situation to be able to get more and more of that U.S. travel. Hoteliers realize they have to go after some of that market to sustain current levels because the regional market is just about tapped out.

Russell says that there is uncertainty, she is hearing that from owners and GMs as they're looking into next year, however, that uncertainty is around growth—how much growth will they see? “We’re not seeing worry,” she concludes. “It does not seem like there's a huge contraction coming.”

Intelligence
July August 2023 | staymagazine.ca | 19

Russell says that is because costs have gone up too much for hotels to retain their profitability levels if they start retracting on ADR. Things that could hurt ADR: An oversupply situation— and we have no indication of oversupply in any market in Canada. “One risk we’ll be watching for is that we could have some sort of contraction in demand that would spook everyone enough to think that they could use rate as a lever to buy back demand. We’re optimistic these races to the bottom are things of the past as it’s been a hard lesson learned by many hoteliers over the years and we’ll see more rate integrity even in challenging conditions,” she clarifies. “In some markets, they probably did put 10 per cent on their books for rate growth in 2023.”

2024 is going to look more normal for rate growth— somewhere between 2 and 4 or 5 per cent. Russell and Beckett agree—they don’t think we can expect beyond inflationary rate growth in 2024, unless there’s a recession much harsher than the tones indicate.

Extenuating circumstances affecting the hotel sector

The reporting of smoke movement from wildfires this year is impacting the hotel and travel industries. This has depended on where the incidents happen, and where the smoke is moving. Unfortunately, it has become big news this year. With headlines like “worst air quality in the world” attached to Canadian destinations, as soon as that message gets out in any type of media, the booking pace slows and the cancellations start in that market.

Where one market is affected, other regions may be in a better position to pick up travellers.

Air quality changes by the hour, but people cancel vacations and react immediately based on these headlines, which are very detrimental to the industry.

It’s not just situations like the wildfires either. Travellers make decisions for the following year. For example, look at a destination like Whistler. A bad snow year might result in a traveller skipping Whistler the following year, even though

Intelligence
20 | staymagazine.ca | July August 2023

the following year will likely be completely different. People make decisions based on “bad” experiences.

What’s happening in transactions?

“There is optimism about the trades that have happened. The Hazelton Hotel Toronto deal was huge! It's also really nice to see a large investment in the InterContinental Montreal deal,” says Beckett.

“It’s good to hear brokers saying there is a lot of stuff in the pipeline. That doesn't surprise us! We believe in the hotel industry, and people aren’t discounting the sector. They're seeing it as being a positive place to invest. It's a great inflation hedge. Hotels can reprice. It's a good place to be in an inflationary environment,” Russell says.

Who are the buyers?

It’s still a domestic market. For buyers to go internationally, they have to get scale. It’s incredibly difficult to get scale in Canada.

Some of the interesting transactions include Oxford picking up Rimrock—that was a strategic one for them; and InnVest picked up the Algonquin Resort St. Andrew's by the Sea— they had just also bought in Seattle, which was their first acquisition outside of Canada and interesting to see their capital going there.

Where do we go from here?

We're talking about recession as much as we need to. We're very slowly tapering off on inflation. This is a sign that the interest rate hikes are doing what they are supposed to be doing.

It's a good time to own hotels. It would be interesting to hear what the brokers think about the bid-ask gap in transactions. There have been some deals happening that were hard nuts to crack. Rimrock for example is a transaction that they wanted to get done for a while. So… did that gap close or did they get more aggressive because of the change in operating environment? The rates are now higher, so were they able to rise to where the seller's expectation was?

Intelligence
July August 2023 | staymagazine.ca | 21

At the same time, it's becoming increasingly good if you own a hotel right now. Which prompts the question—does that make the gap bigger or smaller? We’d be interested to hear what the brokers are saying on that front.

Some of the triggers for activity will be capital for reinvestment, and money isn't cheap. One of the things that we think might trigger activity is the brand property improvement plan (PIP) requirements. Will hotels need capital reinvestment? Yes, because the construction cost environment is still very high. It's expensive to renovate.

There might be some owners that given the cost of money these days and the cost of debt, they may consider selling because they just don't want to continue to reinvest. That creates opportunities for people who want to be in the space.

The brands have gotten more stringent on their property requirements. Hotels are in a position where they're starting to make money again and they know that they're charging the guest rates that haven’t ever been seen before. Guest expectations are a lot higher because the rates are higher. If

the properties aren't maintained, it's the brands that enforce that.

“The limited number of PIPs I've seen recently have been reasonable from the brand standards. They were addressing things that needed to happen in the hotel and there needed to be some reinvestment, but they weren't going overboard,” suggests Russell.

The labour outlook

“From the position we sit in is that when we're talking to hotels, they aren’t saying the labour situation is solved, but most are in a position where they're properly staffed going into summer. Hotels are generally more comfortably staffed than they have been in the past few years,” offers Russell. “Yes,” responds Beckett. “Some markets remain challenged. Last summer, everyone was caught off guard by the rate of recovery. Finding the staff at that time was very hard. Whereas, heading into this summer, everyone's in much better shape, which should lead to sustaining or increasing rates and a return to normal guest satisfaction metrics.”

Intelligence
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CARRIE RUSSELL, AACI, MAI, RIBC, ISHC Senior Managing Partner, Vancouver

Carrie Russell joined HVS as an associate in 1997. According to HVS, she has been influential in establishing HVS’s presence in Canada as a leading hospitality consulting and valuation firm. Russell has attained designation in both Canada and the United States, having completed the requirements to obtain the AACI designation from the Appraisal Institute of Canada in 2004 and the MAI designation from the Appraisal Institute in the United States in 2012. Russell is a member of the International Society of Hotel Consultants (ISHC), the Real Estate Institute of BC (RIBC) and the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA). Russell is a regular speaker at several conferences including the Canadian Hotel Investment Conference and the Western Canadian Lodging Conference.

TOM BECKETT, AIC CANDIDATE MEMBER Senior Vice President, Vancouver

Tom Beckett is a Candidate Member of the Appraisal Institute of Canada working towards receiving the AACI Designation. Beckett’s work as a hospitality valuation consultant has taken him all over western Canada and north into the territories of the nation, including his hometown of Whitehorse. He has worked on a variety of projects including market studies, feasibility studies for proposed hotels, appraisals of existing assets, and analysis and appraisal of proposed and existing large-scale multiuse developments with a hotel component.

Intelligence
ABOUT THE ANALYSTS

45 STEPS CULINARY INN

ST. PETER’S BAY, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

I’M BOUNCING DOWN A COUNTRY ROAD near St. Peter’s Bay, Prince Edward Island and my cell phone’s GPS doesn’t seem to be working.

I’m looking for a new-ish hotel called 45 Steps Culinary Inn, but I’m not sure I’m on the right track. I drive down a dusty road and see a large home that rests on top of a bluff overlooking the water. I don’t see a sign, but I drive into the parking lot and see a car with 45 Steps stencilled onto the side. As the Talking Heads once said, “I guess that this must be the place.”

It takes a bit of guesswork to find this isolated inn in Goose River, Prince Edward Island, but it’s worth the effort.

The inn opened last year on the north shore of eastern P.E.I. and sits on a bluff above a nice beach. Owners Barbara Hasenbohler and Thomas Range (she’s from Berne, Switzerland, and will happily tell you it’s the best city in the country, and he’s from northern Germany) bought the property after visiting eight years ago.

Hasenbohler and Range worked in the hospitality industry in Europe but dreamed of leaving their comfort zone and operating a small, unique inn of their own.

They visited P.E.I. in 2015 and fell in love.

“We felt the magic of the island,” she said. “We fell in love with the friendliness of the people and the east coast lifestyle. We knew immediately we wanted to live and work here.”

They didn’t want a place on a tranquil bay, but instead desired a spot with wide open ocean for their view. They found a massive, private home for sale and were able to buy it and convert it into a sevenroom inn. But Covid delayed their ability to get to Canada, and they weren’t able to open until July of last year. Alas, two months later Hurricane Fiona, stormed ashore and did considerable damage to the property.

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A fine breakfast buffet. Photo by Jim Byers. Barbara Hasenbohler & Thomas Range. Photo courtesy of 45 Steps Culinary Inn.
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A place to relax near the water. Photo by Jim Byers.

It hasn’t been easy, but I didn’t hear either Range or Hasenbohler complain about their bad luck during my one-night visit.

There are four “deluxe rooms” in what used to be a private home, all between 366 and 400 square feet. They’re designed in a beautiful mix of clean, Nordic lines with blonde wood, and soft, beachy colours like oatmeal and seafoam green. A small, round, wooden table had a series of small rocks placed on top, presumably ones rescued from the beach. Our deluxe room had a large desk, a very comfortable king-size bed, a good-sized desk (yay), lots of closet space, and fancy lighting and windows. There was also an espresso machine, a sofa bed, and a large

bathroom with a nice shower. There was no screen door, so we had to keep the sliding glass door closed, but we did have the patio.

All rooms have an ocean view and a patio, and you can catch both the sunrise and the sunset. I sat out on one of the patio chairs and watched beautiful purple and pink lupines swaying in the breeze as a golden sun sank into the water. Given the small number of rooms and the superquiet location on the water, it would make for a wonderful honeymoon spot or romantic getaway. They allow children, but they don’t market the place to families.

I asked Hasenbohler about the modern room design and she smiled.

“We didn’t think P.E.I. needed another Victorian B&B.”

A perfect European-style breakfast buffet is included with every reservation, with everything from flaky croissants and German breads to cheeses, cold cuts, yogurt and smoothies. Hasenbohler also laid out six types of jam in proper jars, not little plastic containers.

Guests also can arrange a three-course dinner for $55. When we were there in

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45 Steps Culinary Inn on Prince Edward Island. Photo by Jim Byers.

late June we had a melon and cucumber salad, perfectly cooked scallops with a strong balsamic glaze and a fine rhubarb cake that uses Hasenbohler’s grandmother’s Old World recipe, including raisins and ground almonds.

The dining area is bright and sunny, and offers restful lawn and ocean views.

Hasenbohler handles the cooking in the modern, open kitchen, while Range takes the orders, serves up the wine (they’ve got a nice, eclectic wine list that includes PEI offerings), does laundry and cleans the seven rooms (four deluxe, two executive suites and a tower suite).

The dining room and lobby/living room area for guests are gorgeous, and there are tons of books in a library-like setting (complete with a ladder) and natural light for reading. The beach is just, well, 45 steps down a metal staircase that was being repaired when we visited.

The inn boasts two large executive suites (495 square feet) and a fabulous Tower Suite, which has a tall fireplace, two large decks that both overlook the beach, a

Oh, one delightful touch; room keys are attached to miniature, high-top running shoes (like Converse) in shades of soft pink, robin’s egg blue and other colours. Prices range from $180 per night for a deluxe room In the off-season, to $590 a night for the Tower Suite. All prices are excluding tax.

Deluxe rooms have a two-night minimum stay from June to September but can be booked for a single night at other times of the year. Suites require a three-night stay from June to September, and two nights at other times of the year.

The price includes breakfast for two people only.

The inn is just a short drive from P.E.I. Greenwich National Park, where you’ll find a floating boardwalk that takes you to a beach with towering sand dunes. St. Peter’s Bay is just a few minutes down the road. It’s a fine place to rent a bike and head out on The Confederation Trail, a 449-km-long, hard-packed gravel trail that can take you from one end of the island to the other. Brudnell River and Dundarave Golf Courses are both within

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A lovely library room. Photo by Jim Byers. A view of the beach. Photo by Jim Byers. Fresh rhubarb cake. Photo by Jim Byers.
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Room keys. Photo by Jim Byers. A Deluxe room. Photo by Jim Byers.
Technology 28 | staymagazine.ca | July August 2023

ENHANCING HOTEL BUSINESSES WITH AI-POWERED CHATBOTS

CHATGPT—AND AI IN GENERAL—IS BECOMING UBIQUITOUS IN INDUSTRY. We’re using it enthusiastically, even before we fully understand its power and potential. While that may sound a bit ominous, it isn’t meant to. Remarkably, industrial applications are leading this nascent period of AI adoption and this begs the question—How are hotel businesses using AI in their business and operations?

How might hoteliers in Canada use applications like ChatGPT to augment/enhance their efforts?

To test the functionality and credibility of ChapGPT—I went straight to the source. I tasked the open source artificial intelligence chatbot to write the following article for me about employing itself in hotel operations. I then verified the responses against other substantiated sources.

Not bad, ChatGPT, not bad at all…

Technology
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HERE’S WHAT THE CHATBOT HAD TO TELL US ABOUT LEVERAGING AI IN CANADIAN HOTEL OPERATIONS

In today's digital era, hotels are constantly seeking innovative ways to deliver exceptional customer experiences and stay ahead of the competition. As technology continues to advance, one powerful tool that hoteliers can harness is ChatGPT, an AI-powered chatbot. With its natural language processing capabilities, ChatGPT can revolutionize the way hotels engage with guests, streamline operations, and boost overall guest satisfaction. In this article, we will explore how hoteliers can leverage ChatGPT to enhance their businesses and create memorable guest experiences.

Efficient and Personalized Customer Service: ChatGPT can serve as a virtual concierge, providing instant and personalized assistance to guests. By integrating the chatbot into a hotel's website or mobile app, guests can quickly get answers to common questions, such as room availability, amenities, or dining options. ChatGPT can also handle reservation inquiries, process bookings, and offer recommendations based on guest preferences. With 24/7 availability, guests can receive prompt responses, enhancing their overall satisfaction and reducing the workload on hotel staff.

Seamless Communication and Language Support:

Hotels cater to guests from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. ChatGPT's multilingual capabilities make it an ideal tool for providing seamless communication. The chatbot can understand and respond to queries in multiple languages, eliminating language barriers and ensuring that all guests feel welcome and understood. Additionally, ChatGPT can be programmed to provide translations, making it easier for hotel staff to communicate with non-native speakers.

Upselling and Cross-selling Opportunities:

ChatGPT can act as an intelligent sales assistant, enabling hotels to upsell and cross-sell their services effectively. By analyzing guest preferences and purchase history, the chatbot can make personalized recommendations for room upgrades, spa services, or special packages. It can also provide information about nearby attractions, events, and partner offerings, driving additional revenue for the hotel while enhancing the guest experience.

Efficient Operations and Staff Support:

Beyond guest interactions, ChatGPT can assist hotel staff in various operational aspects. For example, it can handle routine administrative tasks like managing reservations, generating

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invoices, or processing check-ins and check-outs. By automating these processes, hotel staff can focus on delivering personalized services and attending to more complex guest requests. Additionally, ChatGPT can serve as a knowledge base, providing staff with instant access to information about hotel policies, procedures, and FAQs, thereby improving efficiency and reducing training time for new employees.

Feedback and Reputation Management:

ChatGPT can be a valuable tool for collecting guest feedback and managing the hotel's online reputation. The chatbot can proactively seek feedback from guests during their stay, allowing hoteliers to address any issues or concerns in real time. Furthermore, ChatGPT can monitor online review platforms and social media channels, alerting hotel staff to negative reviews or comments. By promptly addressing guest concerns and demonstrating a commitment to guest satisfaction, hotels can enhance their reputation and build trust among potential guests.

Conclusion:

Incorporating ChatGPT into hotel businesses presents a plethora of opportunities for improving guest experiences, streamlining operations, and driving revenue growth. By

leveraging AI-powered chatbots, hoteliers can provide efficient and personalized customer service, seamless communication across languages, upselling and cross-selling opportunities, operational efficiency, and effective feedback management. Embracing ChatGPT enables hotels to stay at the forefront of the industry, meeting the evolving needs and expectations of modern travellers, and ultimately achieving long-term success in the competitive hospitality landscape.

Editor’s note: A word of caution. While our prompt to ChatGPT produced verifiable and credible responses, it could just have easily produced a nonsensical aggregate. But don’t be afraid to play with this technology and learn how to apply it to your business and operations.

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Technology

time soon

THE RELEASE OF THE CHATGPT CHATBOT IN NOVEMBER 2022 GENERATED SIGNIFICANT PUBLIC INTEREST. In essence, ChatGPT is an AI-powered chatbot allowing users to simulate human-like conversations with an AI.

GPT stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer, a language processing model developed by the American artificial intelligence company OpenAI. The GPT language model uses deep learning to produce human-like responses. Deep learning is a branch of machine learning that involves training artificial neural networks to mimic the complexity of the human brain.

ChatGPT has a user-friendly interface that utilizes this technology, allowing users to interact with it in a conversational manner.

In light of this new technology, businesses and consumers alike have shown great interest in how such an innovation could revolutionize marketing strategies and customer experiences.

What’s so special about ChatGPT?

What sets ChatGPT apart from other chatbots is the size of its dataset. Chatbots are usually trained on a smaller dataset in a

rule-based manner designed to answer specific questions and conduct certain tasks.

ChatGPT, on the other hand, is trained on a huge dataset—175 billion parameters and 570 gigabytes—and is able to perform a range of tasks in different fields and industries. 570GB is equivalent to over 385 million pages on Microsoft Word.

Given the amount of data, ChatGPT can carry out different language-related activities which include answering questions in different fields and sectors, providing answers in different languages and generating content.

Friend or foe to marketers?

While ChatGPT may be a tremendous tool for marketers, it is important to understand the realistic possibilities and expectations of it to get the most value from it.

Traditionally, with the emergence of new technologies, consumers tend to go through Gartner’s Hype Cycle. In essence, Gartner’s cycle explains the process people go through when adopting new technology.

ChatGPT could be a game-changer for marketers, but it won’t replace humans any
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Gartner's Hype Cycle is made up of five phases. The first two phases are when consumers get enthusiastic about new technology and expectations start to build. Then consumers realize the pitfalls of the technology, creating a gap between expectations and reality. This is called the trough of disillusionment.

This is followed by the slope of enlightenment when consumers start to understand the technology and use it more appropriately and reasonably. Finally, the technology becomes widely adopted and used as intended during the plateau of productivity stage.

With the current public excitement surrounding ChatGPT, we appear to be nearing the peak of inflated triggers stage. It’s important for marketers to set realistic expectations for consumers and navigate the integration of ChatGPT to mitigate the effects of the trough of disillusionment stage.

Possibilities of ChatGPT

In its current form, ChatGPT cannot replace the human factor in marketing, but it could support content creation,

enhance customer service, automate repetitive tasks and support data analysis.

Supporting content creation: Marketers may use ChatGPT to enhance existing content by using it to edit written work, make suggestions, summarize ideas and improve overall copy readability. Additionally, ChatGPT may enhance search engine optimization strategy by examining ideal keywords and tags.

Enhancing customer service: Businesses may train ChatGPT to respond to frequently asked questions and interact with customers in a human-like conversation. Rather than replacing the human factor, ChatGPT could provide 24/7 customer support. This could optimize business resources and enhance internal processes by leaving high-impact and sensitive tasks to humans. ChatGPT can also be trained in different languages, further enhancing customer experience and satisfaction.

Automating repetitive marketing tasks: According to a 2015 HubSpot report, marketers spent a significant amount of their time on repetitive tasks, such as sending emails and creating social media posts. While part of that challenge has been addressed with customer relationship management software, ChatGPT may enhance this by providing an added layer of

Technology
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personalization through the generation of creative content. Additionally, ChatGPT may be helpful in other tasks, such as product descriptions. With access to a wealth of data, ChatGPT would be able to frequently update and adjust product descriptions, allowing marketers to focus on higher-impact tasks.

Limitations of ChatGPT

While the wide range of possibilities for enhancing marketing processes with ChatGPT is enticing, it is important for businesses to know about some key limitations and when to limit or avoid using ChatGPT in business operations.

Emotional intelligence: ChatGPT provides a state-of-the-art human-like response and content. However, it is important to be aware that the tool is only human-like. Similar to traditional challenges with chatbots, the degree of human likeness will be essential for process enhancement and content creation.

Marketers could use ChatGPT to enhance customer experience, but without humans to provide relevancy, character, experience and personal connection, it will be challenging to fully capitalize on ChatGPT. Relying on ChatGPT to build customer connections and engagement without the involvement of humans may diminish meaningful customer connection instead of enhancing it.

Accuracy: While the marketing content may appear logical, it is important to note that ChatGPT is not error-free and may provide incorrect and illogical answers. Marketers need to

review and validate the content generated by ChatGPT to avoid possible errors and ensure consistency with brand message and image.

Creativity: Relying on ChatGPT for creative content may cause short- and long-term challenges. ChatGPT lacks the lived experience of individuals and an understanding of the complexity of human nature. Over-relying on ChatGPT may limit creative abilities, so it should be used to support ideation and enhance existing content while still allowing room for human creativity.

Humans are irreplaceable

While ChatGPT has the potential to enhance marketing effectiveness, businesses should only use the technology as a tool to assist humans, not replace them. ChatGPT could provide creative content and support content ideation. However, the human factor is still essential for examining outputs and creating marketing messages that are consistent with a firm’s business strategy and vision.

A business that does not have a strong marketing strategy before integrating ChatGPT remains at a competitive disadvantage. However, with appropriate marketing strategies and plans, ChatGPT could effectively enhance and support existing marketing processes.

This article was previously published in The Conversation.

Technology
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Omar H. Fares is a Lecturer at the Ted Rogers School of Retail Management. Fares earned his Bachelor of Commerce and Master of Science in Management from Toronto Metropolitan University. His main research interest is in the consumer behaviour area, particularly focusing on consumers' interaction with novel digital innovations and the impact of digital innovations on retailers.

Fares has published his research in different impactful journals, such as Computers in Human Behavior, the Journal of Financial Services Marketing, and the Journal of Global Scholars of Marketing Science. His professional background combines expertise in sales, market research and planning, corporate strategizing, and leadership & training in the banking and retail sectors.

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Technology
36 | staymagazine.ca | July August 2023
Business Case Study

GRIST FOR THE (ELORA) MILL

Since opening its doors again in 2018, the revitalized Elora Mill Hotel & Spa has become a “go-to” destination for hundreds of people seeking sanctuary from city stressors while yearning for elevated comfort in natural surroundings. Pearle Hospitality’s Wellington County baby offers this and much more.

FOR DECADES THE VILLAGE OF ELORA—LOCATED 90 MINUTES WEST OF TORONTO—HAS BEEN A DRAW for intrepid daytrippers intent on hiking, tubing or ziplining the magnificent two-kilometre stretch of gorge where the Grand and Irvine rivers converge. Not to be outdone, the village itself also developed into something of an artists’ hub, luring visitors into the plethora of galleries and studios throughout the town, complementing the easygoing reputation Elora had cultivated as tourists wandered past charming heritage buildings and abandoned ruins that dotted its landscape.

That all changed in 2018 when a revitalized and magnificent Elora Mill opened its doors to the public for the first time in years, welcoming a new breed of tourist and rebranding itself as a destination where luxury and nature meet.

“There’s something enchanting about the whole town; it’s one of the most beautiful sites in the world,” the Mill’s managing partner Jocelyn Maurice, says over the phone. “It offers the elegance of a big town but somehow still feels authentic.”

Anchoring that elegance, The Elora Mill, which originally began operations as a grist mill in 1832, offers 27 suites

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Photo by Rick O'Brien.

Business Case Study

overlooking the undulating Grand River rapids and gorge. Its offerings include a spa, chapel and two restaurants among other attractions.

The Mill was originally converted into an inn in 1975 and changed hands eight times before 2010 when it was rescued from bankruptcy by Pearle Hospitality owner and president Aaron Ciancone.

For the uninitiated, Pearle Hospitality, formerly the Landmark Group, dates back to 1936 and counts the Ancaster Mill, which opened in 1979 and the Cambridge Mill, which opened in 2011, among its holdings. The company has acquired a reputation for offering customers threedimensional experiences filtered through mouth-watering cuisine, outstanding service and memorable settings.

With a vision of elevating service and the guest experience, the Elora Mill Hotel & Spa underwent a massive, six-year,

renovation and upgrade to the tune of $27 million.

“The Elora Mill itself required a fair amount of work,” says Maurice. “All of the stonework needed to be restored and the entire mill from the bottom to the top has been repointed”

With painstaking attention to detail, renovations included everything from uncovering ancient beams and brickwork to doubling the size of the building with an overhanging area and solarium spaces with stunning views down the gorge. Throw in a commercial kitchen and fine dining as well as a fourth-level terrace overlooking the Elora Gorge and the famous Tooth of Time natural wonder, and the finished product speaks for itself.

But it’s not just the Elora Mill that benefitted from a facelift, many of the surrounding buildings in the immediate area had also sat unoccupied for decades until Pearle came along.

Chief among these is the Foundry Chapel, a limestone building, formerly a children’s furniture factory, that’s retained its original style but has been completely modernized with details like a 16-foot custom fireplace, timber beams and topiaries and can host up to 200 people.

Likewise, the nearby Granary which sat dormant for decades has been completely revitalized with the introduction of two stunning rooms, that can host a combined 290 people with views of the Elora townscape, a rooftop terrace and other intimate details that add atmosphere and style to any special event.

A whole new spa complex sits in the space once occupied by stables says Maurice. “Guests can have a manicure while looking out over the gorge.”

“We have three rooms that offer sweeping views of this natural wonder,” says spa director Cecilia Rickman. “Our treatment

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Photo by Rick O'Brien.

room windows open to the sounds of the rushing water below and we have an outdoor rooftop pool deck that hosts a year-round pool and hot tub. Obviously, the summer is incredible here but being able to hop in the pool with snow-covered ground and sit by a fire is also a lovely way to spend a winter's eve. We know that a spa needs to be an escape – we have taken a great deal of care in making sure that the full experience is smooth and luxurious and we make sure that our guests leave feeling spoiled in all of the right ways.”

Rickman, who spent several years working as a spa manager for luxury cruise lines prior to joining Pearle in 2021, knows a thing or two about amplifying the guest experience.

This is reflected in the range of spa offerings including traditional massage therapy, rejuvenating body treatments, luxurious facials, and deluxe hand & foot treatments. A recent addition to the

plethora of offerings is @zentsofficial which augments aromatic experiences for our hand and foot therapy using an all-natural skincare line design for healing, says Rickman.

The Elora Mill has also become a popular wedding destination and the spa plays an important role in providing customer satisfaction in this area as well.

“We love to offer our wedding couples and their family a time of pampering before and after their wedding. We are able to create spa day/ events for an Elora Mill couple and their bridal party in advance of their wedding date or in prep of the wedding,” says Rickman.

Indeed, the Mill has played host to over 500 weddings since the service was launched says wedding consultant, Ty Sitko.

“I think we are unique in the fact that we offer a very all-inclusive experience.

With so many options available, making selections can be overwhelming when planning a wedding. We have given a great deal of thought into all of the details so that the day can flow seamlessly,” he says. “We like to say ‘We took the liberty of thinking of everything so that you don’t have to’. Our teams are also available seven days a week so that we are able to assist when it suits their schedules. We host a preferred vendor program that has been strictly vetted so that we can guarantee all of the promises will be delivered upon. We also offer the option of renting our entire Granary building for a fully exclusive experience.”

Sitko, who has worked in the hospitality industry since age 19, joined Pearle eight years ago as a wedding concierge and became a wedding consultant in 2017, has developed broad insights into what makes a wedding both unique and memorable for guests.

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Photo by Jono & Laynie.

Business Case Study

“Oftentimes service and food are an afterthought when it comes to events,” he says. “This couldn’t be further from the truth at the Elora Mill. We know how deeply important these things are to our couples but also for everyone that they are hosting. Our staff and the quality of food and service is second-to-none. Our personal and thoughtful approach to service combined with restaurant chefs and seasonal and elevated menu selections I would say are two of the top reasons that everyone at that wedding leaves feeling completely ‘wowed.’”

As if that weren’t enough, Maurice draws special attention to the restaurants housed in the Elora Mill.

“We’re a food and beverage-forward company,” she offers. “We cook as much as possible using local ingredients.” Some of the delectable temptations include homemade pasta, created daily; a brilliant selection of sourdough breads as well as the specialty paté en croute, which encapsulates all parts of the kitchen, explains Maurice.

“There are over 120 steps involved in making it,” she proudly notes.

But things got off to a rather bumpy start with Covid-19 lurking around the corner. Like much of the rest of the hospitality industry, the ubiquitous virus hit the hotel and hit hard. Barely opened one year The Elora Mill closed and reopened three times, most recently for six weeks during Easter 2021. Compared to other accommodations, the Mill managed to land on its feet fairly quickly, says Maurice.

“We reopened with 100 per cent occupancy,” she says. “We offered a retreat to people not available in other places.

That doesn’t mean there haven’t been the odd challenges and hiccups, however.

“The biggest challenge we’ve encountered is how to communicate well to the public,” says Maurice. “How do we get our message out and create those relationships and articulate that the right way?"

Finding staff has also been difficult at times although Maurice notes that since its opening, the Elora Mill has created over 400 jobs in the community.

That’s just one of the benefits created by having the revitalized Elora Mill reintroduced to the community, notes Maurice.

“We’ve brought life back into the community and made the town busier,” she says. “It’s generated quite a bit of excitement for local business.” The Elora Mill has also generated spillover benefits for nearby Fergus—which Elora has often been paired with, as well.

With all the investment, time and effort into harmonizing a business with its local surroundings, both built and natural, there can be little doubt that Pearle Hospitality’s vision for the Elora Mill is indeed long-term.

“We are focused on creating a sustainable plan for the Elora Mill and we are thrilled to be playing a part in the next evolution of the town of Elora,” says Maurice. “We love the idea of being a part of its next 100 years”

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Discover the Hyatt Difference See how Hyatt can provide long term value through thoughtful, targeted growth. hyatt.com/development Hyatt Place Montréal – Downtown, Québec, Canada
Canada
Caption By
Hyatt Beale Street Memphis, Tennessee Hyatt House Winnipeg-South/Outlet Collection Manitoba,
July August 2023 | staymagazine.ca | 41
Images by Mango Studios, and Rick O'Brien.
If you think someone is a victim of human trafficking, call the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline, 9-1-1, or your local police. Human Trafficking If you suspect that you or someone you know may be being exploited, if you want to access support, or if you want to learn more, call: 1-833-900-1010 Human Trafficking happens in our communities. www.canadianhumantraffickinghotline.ca 42 | staymagazine.ca | July August 2023

HUMAN TRAFFICKING & THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY

EYES WIDE OPEN

PART ONE in our series

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. According to the Government of Canada, the extent of human trafficking, both in Canada and internationally, is difficult to assess due to the hidden nature of the crime, the reluctance of victims and witnesses to come forward to law enforcement and the difficulty of identifying victims.

Human trafficking is the exploitation of human beings for gain. Trafficking exploitation can exist in many forms and usually entails victims being caused to provide sexual services or labour through force, coercion, deception and/or abuse of trust, power or authority.

Anyone can fall victim to this crime, although women and girls represent the majority of victims in Canada. Those who are at risk also include Indigenous women and girls; new immigrants; 2SLGBTQI+ persons; children and youth in the child welfare system; those who are socially or economically disadvantaged; and migrant workers who may be particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse due to many factors, such as language barriers, working in isolated/remote areas, lack of access to services and support, and lack of access to accurate information about their rights.

Human trafficking results in substantial physical, psychological, and emotional trauma to the victims.

Trafficking
Human
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Human Trafficking

"It happens everywhere. It doesn't matter if you're from a challenged area or an affluent area or if you're from a big city or a small town," says RCMP Cpl. David Lane, an investigator with the Nova Scotia Provincial Human Trafficking Team.

Seeing the signs in hotels: Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking

According to a report from the U.S.-based Polaris, 75 per cent of U.S.-based human trafficking survivors report having some contact with a hotel or motel during their trafficking experience. This number stresses the fact that the hospitality industry, which includes hotels and motels, but also business, casinos, amusement parks, cruises and other tourism-related events, is a known sector for both sex and labour trafficking activity. Following are some of the reasons why and the solutions that can be put in place to make the hospitality industry a less welcoming option to traffickers.

When it comes to trafficking, hotels, motels and casinos are preferred locations for the facilitation of sex trafficking activity because they can provide traffickers with a sense of anonymity and privacy. Common tactics used by traffickers to disguise the illicit activity can include selecting larger hotels with busy staff, using third-party booking sites, or reserving the room in the victim’s name and paying cash.

Although these establishments might have a hard time identifying potential victims, they can nonetheless be held accountable for what happens on their property. Hotels and other hospitality businesses can be held liable under provisions in the Criminal Code if staff knowingly permit someone under the age of 18 onto their property for the purpose of engaging in commercial sexual activity, i.e. sex trafficking. While there hasn’t yet been this type of class action in Canada, it is not outside of the realm of possibilities.

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In the United States, there have been a number of high-profile civil suits brought by survivors of trafficking who ascertain that the hotels knowingly turned a blind eye to their exploitation and thus, actually profited from their exploitation.

Human trafficking can also happen in the hospitality industry in the form of labour trafficking. In 2019, 43 foreign nationals were identified as victims of labour trafficking who had been deceived and forced to work for a cleaning service at hotels across Ontario’s cottage country. In this particular case, the victims were exploited by a third-party sub-contracting business and the hotels in which they worked had no knowledge of the abuse taking place.

Individuals who are exploited in the hospitality industry for forced labour are often brought to Canada under various work visas to fill labour shortages for housekeeping, front-ofhouse staff, maintenance and bar and restaurant personnel.

The inherent risks linked to Temporary Work Visas in Canada are numerous.

The hospitality industry must therefore do its due diligence when utilizing subtractors and recruiters to ensure they are not unknowingly contributing to the exploitation of others. Hotels and other hospitality businesses must also be aware of the potential for human trafficking in the supply chain of goods and products they purchase, including coffee, hotel linens and other equipment. Proposed supply chain legislation would potentially see Canadian businesses have to meet reporting and compliance obligations to ensure they are taking the necessary steps to keep a trafficking-free supply chain for goods and labour.

That’s why, for all the above-mentioned reasons, it is so important for the hospitality industry to ensure they are taking steps to deter sex trafficking on their grounds and human trafficking in their labour supply chain.

Human Trafficking
July August 2023 | staymagazine.ca | 45

Human Trafficking

PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS FOR WAYS THAT HOTELS, MOTELS, CASINOS AND OTHER INDUSTRY VENDORS CAN ADDRESS THIS ISSUE:

• Do yearly education and awareness training for all staff (front and back of house) that goes beyond the key indicators of trafficking, but also provides staff with important contextual information and considerations.

• Post the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline number in high-traffic places for both employees and guests (i.e. break rooms, lobby restrooms, front desk, elevators and on door hangers).

• Consult those with lived experience to ensure your establishment adopts public, person-centred policies and procedures that articulate your commitment to this issue and the steps being taken to address it.

• Ensure you have clear policies and reporting guidelines for employees should they suspect trafficking activity on the business property, within the workforce or in the supply chain.

• Develop employment skills training programs for survivors which provide pathways to legitimate employment.

• Make your establishment less trafficking friendly, i.e. have an in-person check-in for all reservations which require identification and a credit card for payment, not cash.

• Donate rewards points or vouchers to local charities or partner with local anti-trafficking organizations and/or shelters to provide emergency housing when shelters are full.

• Provincial governments should look to mandate that all employees are properly trained and that establishments keep track of transactions and post the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline number publicly as a part of their licensing process.

46 | staymagazine.ca | July August 2023

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS IN CANADA, 2020: FACTS

• Police services in Canada reported 2,977 incidents of human trafficking—that is, recruiting, transporting, transferring, holding, concealing and exercising control over a person for the purposes of exploitation—between 2010 and 2020.

• During this time, nearly nine in ten (86 per cent) incidents of human trafficking were reported in census metropolitan areas, compared with around six in ten (58 per cent) violent incidents overall.

• More than half (57 per cent) of the incidents involved human trafficking offences alone while 43 per cent involved at least one other type of violation, most often related to the sex trade.

• The vast majority (96 per cent) of detected victims of human trafficking were women and girls. In all, one in four (25 per cent) victims were under the age of 18. Meanwhile, one in five (20 per cent) were aged 25 to 34.

• Just over half (52 per cent) of all human trafficking incidents had no accused person identified in connection with the incident.

• The large majority (81 per cent) of persons accused of human trafficking were men and boys. Most commonly, accused persons were aged 18 to 24 (41 per cent), followed by those aged 25 to 34 (36 per cent).

• Based on results from a record linkage, there were 1,793 unique persons accused of police-reported human trafficking between 2009 and 2020. Three-quarters (75 per cent) of these accused had previously been implicated in other criminal activity. Following an initial contact with police for human trafficking, one in nine (11 per cent) accused were implicated in a separate incident of human trafficking during the reference period.

• Between 2009/2010 and 2019/2020, there were 834 cases completed in adult criminal courts that involved at least one charge of human trafficking.

• Human trafficking cases took almost twice as long to complete than violent adult criminal court cases. The median amount of time it took to complete an adult criminal court case involving at least one violent charge was 176 days. In contrast, it took a median of 373 days to complete a case involving at least one human trafficking charge.

• As the most serious decision in adult criminal court, a finding of guilt was less common for cases involving human trafficking (12 per cent) than for those involving sex trade charges (33 per cent) or violent charges (48 per cent).

RELATED READING

HUMAN TRAFFICKING TRENDS IN CANADA: THE LATEST REPORT FROM TCTEHT

Acknowledgements

Information contained in this article was provided by the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Statistics Canada. Special thanks to Tracy Ford and Gary Myers of Chelsea Hotel Toronto for their ongoing consultation.

Human Trafficking
July August 2023 | staymagazine.ca | 47

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