Travel Agent Appreciation

Canada Is Rocking It!

13th Annual Best Western Leisure Summit Tracks The Trends

There’s no doubt about it, Canada is hot and getting hotter according to three top travel industry experts on the panel at the 13th annual Best Western Leisure Travel Summit that was held in Toronto yesterday (May 16).

The trio of panelists – Dorothy Dowling, chief marketing officer and senior vice-president from Best Western Hotels & Resorts; Susie Grynol, president of the Hotel Association of Canada; and Brad Payea, head of industry relations for TripAdvisor – covered everything from forecasting summer season performance and trends to the importance of travel rewards programs to Airbnb to branding and a whole lot more.

HAC’s Grynol told those on hand for the 2018 Summit that the Canadian hotel industry is breaking records, posting a 66% occupancy figure in 2017 – and that trend — and occupancy level — is expected to continue well into 2018.

Grynol also cited the continuing growth of Canada’s hotel room supply; Canada’s ranking as a top travel destination by a host of internationally well-known media outlets; and event the so called “Trudeau Effect.”

All in all, Grynol said: “It’s a great time to be in the hotel business.”

For Best Western’s Dowling, the headline these days is short and sharp: “Canada is rocking it!”

She noted that the company’s forward bookings are up 8% over the previous year and the Canadian economy and a number of other factors are all good.

TripAdvisor’s Payea told the gathering that the market is strong and Canadian destinations will continue to see growth this summer.

“Canada,” said Payea, “is a really strong brand.”

In other news from Best Western, 2018 is a big year for the company as it celebrates the 30th anniversary of Best Western Rewards (BWR), which has grown from 180,000 members in 1988 to 32 million members in 2018. Each year, BWR has continued to raise the bar, and today, it offers the industry’’s lowest point threshold, free nights with no blackout dates and seasonal promotions. Plus, BWR points earned don’t expire.

To mark the 30th anniversary of BWR, Best Western gift lifetime Diamond Select Status to close to 3,000 members who have remained a loyal part of the program since its inaugural year. Diamond Select Status offers 50% bonus points per stay, a choice of a thank you gift or points upon arrival and guaranteed free night availability.

Best Western has also released results from its Second Annual Hotel Loyalty Program Study – conducted by U.S. News & World Reports Marketing & Business Intelligence teams – which reveals key indicators for how travellers choose the best possible loyalty program, as well as what drives them to book with one hotel brand versus another.

Commenting on the findings, Dowling said: “The results of this study confirm that loyalty programs remain a meaningful, driving factor in customer consideration of hotel brands.”

Best Western’s CMO & SVP pointed out that: ““Just as Best Western has grown and evolved to exceed the expectations of today’’s travellers, so, too has BWR. Today’’s BWR reflects the voice of our valued customers more than ever, providing industry-leading offerings such as points that never expire, low point redemption thresholds to help our guests earn free room nights faster, and access to discounts, instant rewards, and rich promotions throughout the entire year.”

And Dowling added: “BWR continues to reimagine the hotel loyalty landscape, and we keep getting better.””

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Seen in the photo, from l to r, are Summit moderator, Bryson Forbes; Best Western’s Dorothy Dowling; the Hotel Association of Canada’s Susie Grynol; and TripAdvisor’s Brad Payea.

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