BW Leisure Summit: Canada truly rocking it!

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Bryson Forbes, moderator of the Best Western Leisure Summit

Bryson Forbes, moderator of the Best Western Leisure Summit

By Colleen Isherwood, Editor

TORONTO — Asked to describe future Canadian leisure travel in one word, TripAdvisor's Brian Payea said “mobile”; HAC's Susie Grynol said “opportunity”; and Best Western's Dorothy Dowling said “rewarding.” They all agreed that Canada is rocking leisure travel this summer!

The three formed a panel moderated by Best Western You Must Be Trippin' blogger, Bryson Forbes, at Best Western's 13th Annual Leisure Travel Summit, held at Arcadian Loft, Toronto on May 16.

From left: Bryson Forbes, Dorothy Dowling, Susie Grynol, Brian Payea.

From left: Bryson Forbes, Dorothy Dowling, Susie Grynol, Brian Payea.

Here are some of the statistics presented by HAC president Susie Grynol at the Summit.

World Travel By the Numbers

• Total international arrivals into Canada reached 20.85 million in 2017, the best on record – Destination Canada

 • From January to December 2017, arrival from overseas markets registered a 4.4 per cent gain over 2016 including the US (+3 per cent), Asia-Pacific (+11 per cent), Latin America (+39 per cent) and Europe (+1 per cent).

 • Seven countries in particular registered their highest level of visitation to Canada ever during 2017: France, Australia, China, India, South Korea, Mexico and Brazil 

 • The growth rate for visitation to Canada is stronger than the U.S., with a Compounded Annual Growth Rate of 2.6 per cent, more than 1 point higher than the U.S.’s 1.6 per cent, over the past four years. 

Canadian Hotel Industry By The Numbers

• Canada’s hotel industry broke records last year. 

• The Canadian hotel industry hit 66 per cent occupancy in 2017 and is expected to hold at those levels in 2018 with supply and demand in balance in most markets. 

• Record RevPAR rate of over $100 CAD was hit in 2017 (revenue per available room)

• Over the past four years, Canada’s hotel supply has grown by approximately 4,500 to 5,700 rooms per annum. It is projected to grow by another 5,700 rooms in 2018 – or 1.3 per cent.

• Over the last three years in Canada, there have been about 550 hotel transactions representing about $10 billion in sales volumes.  

Susie Grynol, HAC — “Opportunity”

Our Canadian story also has strong indicators, said Grynol.  It was named the top country to visit by Lonely Planet and New York Times; it was Travel + Leisure’s destination of the year for 2017; and CNN Style named Toronto (as “the tech star of the North”) as one of its top 7 design-savvy cities to watch in 2018.

“The Trudeau effect” has also had a measurable impact, said Grynol. “People are viewing Canada as a welcoming place to visit, that is safe, with a stable government. This has resulted in uptick in group business travel – now looking at Canada as a less risky option in North America.”


Brian Payea, TripAdvisor — “mobile”

The future of leisure travel in Canada will include more artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in millions of businesses around the world, said Brian Payea, head of industry relations at TripAdvisor. The new technologies will have more and more personalization — what's relevant to each person's experience. 

“Mobile is the word of the year for people looking for travel information. There's been growth in the move to making purchases more mobile — it's now the dominant platform.

Dorothy Dowling, Best Western — “rewarding”

This is the year of Best Western Rewards, said Dorothy Dowling, SVP and chief marketing office for Best Western. “Our $20 gift card offering is compelling, as is our partnership with Disney. This year will see the re-release of The Incredibles, and the superhero is a woman!”

It's also a great year to promote Canada's urban experiences to millennials.

“The top end of the millennials is now 37 years old,” said Dowling. “Best Western has found that millennials are frugal value seekers. They seek out the urban experience and Canada has some remarkable cities that are very affordable. In addition, the baby boomers are living a lot longer — 70 is the new 50, etc.  They are aging in a different way, and are also attracted to the Canadian urban experience.”