Canada Connects at Wyndham Hotel conference

Master of ceremonies Dave Kelly, Geoff Ballotti and Marc Staniloff.

Master of ceremonies Dave Kelly, Geoff Ballotti and Marc Staniloff.

LAS VEGAS — Superior Lodging Corp. had a meeting called Canada Connects, with 170 people from its 240 properties, at the Wyndham Hotel Group conference at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas last week. Superior is the largest Wyndham master franchise development holder in Canada, with Super 8s, Travelodges and Microtels.

Geoff
Ballotti, president and CEO of Wyndham Hotel Group, addressed the meeting in both English and French, saying it was an exciting
conference, and that Wyndham would soon become the largest pure-play hotel franchising and hotel management company on the New York Stock exchange.

“The
growth is positive — we need quality growth,” Ballotti said. He added that he didn’t think any
country he has looked at has as many quality hotels as Canada.

Performance of Canadian properties

“Microtel has a 4.3 TripAdvisor average in Canada — it’s off the charts. Super 8 Canada is among the highest in the world — there’s close to 100 per cent compliance on their Innov8te package,” said Ballotti. Innov8te is Super 8’s design package that showcases a unique headboard with iconic images from each hotel’s local area.

Forty three out of 124 Super 8s in Canada are Pride of Super 8 properties, four times the system average. System-wide the tally is 179 out of 1,800.

Ballotti made a plug for Signature Reservation Services. “I haven’t seen any program offered that had the immediate impact that realizing you can’t answer every call has.  SRS converts at 30 to 35 per cent.  The return on this is a no-brainer; you only pay if they deliver — 3.5 per cent or $6, whichever is higher.” He said he thought the rate could get even higher — up to 40 or 50 per cent conversions.

He also commented what makes companies great. “It's the power of an apology, how we handle things when we when we let a guest down.”

Stay twice, get a free night

Lisa
Checchio, SVP Global Brands, gave some impressive numbers for the “Stay twice, get a free night” program, which started on Feb. 5 and lasts until the end of
June.  There have been 700,000 visits to
the rewards site, compared to 220,000 normally. 
They have given away 500 million points and 33,000 free nights so far,
and the program only started on Feb. 5. Eight to 10 per cent of redemptions are from Canada.

“We are
getting our media into Canada,” Checchio told the Canadian owners and franchisees. “We have television and sports, and new agencies that are really targeting your ideal guest.”

AWARDS OF EXCELLENCE

Revenue Resource Maximization — Farhan Kassam, The Sterling Group, Super 8 Downtown Toronto

 From left: Kumar Selvaretnam, director of operations, Sterling Group; Sandra San, assistant general manager, Super 8 Downtown Toronto; Marc Staniloff, president and CEO, Superior Lodging Corp.; Farhan Kassam, president, Sterling Group.

From left: Kumar Selvaretnam, director of operations, Sterling Group; Sandra San, assistant general manager, Super 8 Downtown Toronto; Marc Staniloff, president and CEO, Superior Lodging Corp.; Farhan Kassam, president, Sterling Group.

In his acceptance speech, Farhan Kassam noted that the Super 8 Downtown Toronto have finished their renovation, and it has improved the entire staff’s morale.
Many members of their team are the same as when the hotel opened 12 years ago. 

“It’s
a situation where we all get along,” said Kassam.  Theirs is a unique property – it’s located on
the third, fourth and fifth floors of a shopping mall on Spadina, in the middle
of Toronto’s Chinatown. 

“The rooms are great,” said Farham. “We have 92 rooms and they are all different. The building was built as a large
banquet hall — we are proud to have a hotel in downtown Toronto.”

Team Motivator — Naja El-Khoury, GM, Travelodge
Montreal

Naja El-Khoury and Marc Staniloff.

Naja El-Khoury and Marc Staniloff.

Naja El-Khoury
told the delegates that in the hospitality industry the team is the product.  If you working in a factory making microwaves, it doesn't matter if you are in a good or bad mood. But in the hotel, the service the team
offers IS the product. Their moods reflect the final outcome. 

The rewards program is a generous program that
sells itself, El-Khoury said. There are incentives, where the top enrollers get Wyndham
rewards. Sometimes they have 200
enrollments or more.

Staniloff added that the gross revenue on Travelodge Montreal's 240 rooms was $7.7 million this year.
This property is part of the Tidan Group, which has three Travelodges in
Quebec.  One is a 230-room hotel in
Quebec City. 

Technology and Innovation Award — accepted by Xavier
Icardo on behalf of Fort McMurray Microtel

Xavier Icardo and Marc Staniloff.

Xavier Icardo and Marc Staniloff.

Fort McMurray
Microtel has a paperless hospitality program and the ultimate Internet program, said Xavier Icardo, MasterBUILT's director of operations, Eastern Canada.
The hotel has worked from Day 1 to be much more sustainable — much greener and
to increase productivity.

Staff have found they can communicate much better
using tablets. The housekeeping department used to generate 220 pages of paper each day; with tablets for
communication, that has been reduced to four pages. 

“Customers notice that we are
much more high tech,” Icardo said. “People are excited about the high-tech
approach, and the investment was very minimal, unless you drop the iPad in the
tub — which happed once. There are seven minutes per room of productivity gains
— people are not going to get lists on another floor, and consumption of paper
has been reduced.”

Revenue
Resources Maximizer Award — Dave
Mitchell, Holloway Lodging Corp.

Dave Mitchell and Marc Staniloff.

Dave Mitchell and Marc Staniloff.

Holloway
Lodging Management has 12 Super 8s and eight Travelodges, as well as other brands.  Dave Mitchell is their director of revenue management. Whenever possible, Holloway uses a team of the directors of sales,
marketing and operations involved in revenue calls, not just the revenue
guy.  It is a well-rounded approach. “To get the right rate, we have to know the
customer and how we get it to them,” said Mitchell. “In a crisis, everyone should focus on rate
integrity. If you give a lower rate, you spend the next five years working to
get that rate back.”

Community Engagement and
Involvement — 
Ronnie Sanorjo, GM,
Microtel Lloydminster, Alta.

Ronnie Sanorjo and Marc Staniloff.

Ronnie Sanorjo and Marc Staniloff.

Everyone
in Lloydminster knows Ronnie Sanorjo, general manager of the Microtel Inn & Suites. His focus is to build strong relationships with
the community. They participate in all national and local initiatives such as
the MS Walk and Relay for Life.  Locally,
they have a Common Ground volunteer program. The things they do are good for networking and spread brand awareness. But it’s not only the
community that benefits, but also team members because they have a purpose, it
makes them happy and they are proud to be working at that hotel, Sanorjo said.

PLANS FOR GROWTH FOR EACH BRAND

From left: Dave Kelly, Trevor Hagel, Marc Staniloff and Eric Watson.

From left: Dave Kelly, Trevor Hagel, Marc Staniloff and Eric Watson.

Super 8
is looking at a good pipeline — said Marc Staniloff, president and CEO of Superior Lodging Corp., who is particularly excited that the brand now has a number of new build hotels in Hardisty and Canmore, Alta. and Winnipeg East. “We just
signed a new-build 60-room hotel at Winnipeg Airport. We have 124 hotels, and a lot of them are
in oil towns, which are finally seeing a turnaround.”

Staniloff acknowledged that some hotels are leaving the Super 8 system, partly because so many are located in resource-rich communities. At one point, there were 143 Super 8s in Canada, but they have tried to weed out the low quality ones. Consequently, they have seen a rise in RevPAR — from $50.99 in 2016 to $55.15 in 2017. 

“The economy in resource-rich communities is definitely stepping up in terms of sales and bookings — there is a positive vibe compared to the last two years, which were all negative.

“All our franchisees are having longer contracts — they have an average of 15 years remaining on their contracts,” said Stanliloff.  Contracts are generally for 20 year terms.

Andrea Watts, Marc Staniloff and Melissa Kenney.

Andrea Watts, Marc Staniloff and Melissa Kenney.

Trevor
Hagel, vice-president operations for Travelodge Canada, says growth for Travelodge has been very impressive thanks in part to the efforts of
vice president franchising and development, Nigel Lucas. Travelodge Canada expects to add 10 new locations in 2018. 

“In 2018, we have already opened four new hotels, and we have three signed to open next quarter,” said Hagel. “Our growth is really smart. The majority is organic and comes from franchisees looking to rebrand or new build. The best growth is from us in the room here,” he told the assembled owners, developers and general managers.

Travelodge continues to see growth in Quebec and are expecting their fifth location in Quebec to open this year. With a rich pipeline, they expect steady growth to continue in the years to come. 

Eric
Watson, president, MasterBUILT Hotels, said Microtel has 15 hotels open, four under construction and two opening in
May. “We’re opening our first hotel in Quebec in May, and this morning we
opened 100 rooms in a high profile location. Twenty-one hotels in the next 24
months could break ground — in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and B.C. 

“We are the only new construction brand that has gained traction in
Canada. Hilton announced Tru two years ago, and there are zero open in Canada even
though Hilton is a machine,” Watson said.  “We have
momentum from committed partners, and franchisees who love the brand. It’s all
about the passion, commitment and partners we have. It’s great to have one
hotel with a partner; but you know you are doing something right when you’re
doing two or three.”