EDMONTON—It doesn’t have a name yet, but the working description is “HAC-approved accommodation program.” And the goal is a truly national accommodation program that provides a directory of approved properties, with the ability to book on each property website.
Last November at its annual board meeting in Lac Leamy, QC, the Hotel Association of Canada agreed to back a national program with substantial funding.
The project will start with a pilot project in Alberta and possibly Manitoba.
The four western provinces, under Alberta’s leadership, had earlier initiated the Canadian Star Quality Accommodation Rating system. The new program will be based on much of their work.
The Star Quality ratings will be moved to the new platform, Dave Kaiser, president and CEO of the Alberta Hotel & Lodging Association told CLN.
“The benefit of the new program is that it is much broader. It helps support the website and booking systems with JackRabbit. Star Quality will still be an option, offering a search function by star. The new program will provide greater exposure at a reduced cost.”
Alberta is in the process of approving properties for the pilot, and trying to work with different provinces across Canada to create their program and directory. Directory users will be able to search by place and date, get results and rates, and book directly with the property.
“Every province is to encourage the different tourism associations to participate—for example Travel Manitoba and Travel Alberta.
“There is huge potential for the industry in Canada to work with provincial governments and also DMOs,” said Kaiser.
“This is a new chapter. It’s not our program, but it will start with our province because we are in a position to transition easily. We can go right into the national program. We have had good response with governments.”
One of the biggest differences from the Canadian Star Quality program, is that the properties don’t have to be quality rated. Green Key ratings are included, and consumers can search properties by number of keys.
“We learned a lot by doing Star Quality,” said Kaiser. “Before you go live, you need critical mass. Otherwise, you lose credibility with consumers.”
The program will include a booking widget that will show up on provincial marketing sites. It will pull up information for consumers to search by region and by date. “By using the provincial marketing sites, the new program can deliver a much more comprehensive consumer experience,” said Kaiser.
“It sounds really ambitious, but if we continue to work with industry and government, it makes all kinds of sense,” Kaiser added.
“Having the national HAC brand gives legitimacy, showing the industry that the program is national in scope. It allows us to build in Green Key and a lot of other things they have achieved.”