Rooms for Improvement

Canadian hotels are bouncing back.

Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis, the global leader in commercial real estate services and investments, is predicting that Canadian hotels will be 50 per cent occupied next year, a significant improvement over the average of 30 per cent in 2020. August 2021 saw occupancy hit 65.4 per cent, the highest monthly performance level since March 2020, and the upward trend is expected to continue into 2022 and beyond as customer confidence recovers and international travel returns.

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) states in a recent report that, moving forward, travelers are likely to gravitate toward destinations perceived to be clean, healthy and safe. This bodes well for Canadian accommodations, many of which treated the health and safety of their patrons as their primary priority, even before the arrival of COVID-19.

And due to the pandemic, health and safety protocols were ramped up across all industries. The safety of guests has always been the number one priority of hotels. For the Fairmont brand, it was more a matter of enhancing their protocols than starting from scratch, as Danielle Lundy, director of sales and marketing at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald in Edmonton, explains.

Last summer, Accor, the company that owns the Fairmont brand, which includes the Hotel Macdonald among 18 other Canadian hotels, five of which are in Alberta, launched ALLSAFE, a more stringent set of cleaning standards and operational procedures developed with and vetted by Bureau Veritas, a world leader in testing, inspections and certification. The new procedures range from aggressive cleaning protocols between guest stays, including continued use of EPA-registered disinfecting chemicals proven effective in preventing the transmission of COVID-19, to contactless checkout via email, text message or phone.

“The only constant now is going to be change,” says Lundy. “I think messaging became one of the key components of successfully navigating the pandemic, especially with our ALLSAFE program. Being able to quickly get information out to our guests when guidelines change means they are more prepared and generally more confident about doing business with us.”

Demand at the Hotel Macdonald has continued to climb month over month in 2021, as people become more assured about travelling again.

“When the Restrictions Exemption Program was implemented this past fall, that’s when we started to see consistent, increased consumer confidence,” explains Lundy. “The requirement for guests to be either fully vaccinated, have proof of a negative COVID test or proof of medical exemption, in any area where guests could be unmasked in the presence of other guests, appeared to build confidence and comfort among our patrons. November was our best month yet.”

Alberta hotels are ready.