WINNIPEG — The 88th annual Manitoba Hotel
Association (MHA) Convention and Tradeshow took place October 24th
and 25th at the Victoria Inn Hotel and Convention Centre in
Winnipeg. This event has always been well-attended and well-received by MHA
members and suppliers, and this year was no exception.
The event kicked off on Monday, October 24th
with the MHA Annual General Meeting, where MHA Chair Bruce MacKay and MHA
President & CEO Scott Jocelyn provided the membership with an update on the
MHA’s activities over the past year. Bruce shared the results of the board’s June
strategic planning session, while Scott informed members about the MHA’s
“Hotels Matter” campaign from the recent provincial election, and highlighted the
extensive travel he has undertaken to visit MHA members since becoming
President and CEO on January 1, 2016.
Following the AGM, the Convention sessions
got underway, starting with greetings from the Honourable Cliff Cullen,
Manitoba’s Minister of Growth, Enterprise and Trade. Minister Cullen’s
portfolio includes responsibility for tourism, and MHA members were pleased
that he took the time to attend the convention and share some thoughts about the
future of tourism and tourism funding.
Keynote speaker George Leith of Vendasta took
the stage next to speak on the topic of online reputation management. George
stressed the importance for hotels of managing their reputation across multiple
websites and social media platforms, highlighting the adverse affects that
negative reviews can have for businesses of all types, and providing tips for
dealing with and responding to negative reviews.
Next, Travel Manitoba CEO Colin Ferguson
provided an update on tourism and the activities and priorities of his
Delegates then moved into breakout
sessions. There were two choices – either a further session with George Leith
delving more deeply into their hotels’ own online reputations, or “Bar Food
101”, which brought attendees together with suppliers to explore how
high-quality, low-cost food offerings to allow them to attract new customers
and capture additional revenue for their bars.
The day’s educational offerings wrapped up
with a new session called “Meet the Regulators.” Representatives from
government and other organizations that hotels interact with on a daily basis
were invited to set up tables in a mini-tradeshow format, offering brochures
and other industry-relevant information. This informal session facilitated networking
and information sharing between government and industry representatives, and
provided a one-stop venue for hoteliers to ask questions and raise concerns.
On Monday evening, over 200 delegates,
sponsors and suppliers came together to relax and enjoy a casual “Las Vegas
Nights” themed dinner. The evening event included a delicious Las Vegas style buffet
and all the other fun and entertainment you’d expect from Las Vegas, including
a live band, casino tables and even Elvis.
Tuesday morning’s keynote breakfast got
underway with greetings from another provincial government representative –
Crown Services Minister Ron Schuler, minister responsible for Manitoba Liquor
& Lotteries. Minister Schuler then joined Scott Jocelyn in presenting MHA
Loyalty Awards to long-serving hotel owners and managers, MHA Lifetime
Memberships to former Chairs Josette Roch and David Kaisaris, and a Manitoba
Liquor & Lotteries IMPACT Award to Canad Inns. Former
Winnipeg Blue Bomber turned local restaurateur Obby Khan presented the award to Canad Inns executive chair Leo Ledohowski, and also provided an
entertaining and inspiring keynote address.
In bestowing the honour on Canad Inns, Khan congratulated the Manitoba grown and operated organization for touching the lives of tens of thousands of Manitobans annually through their contributions to hundreds of local charities as well as for their coordination and sponsorship of a wide range of community events and festivals.
“The Impact Award celebrates Canad Inns for the positive contributions they have made to our community, since 1978, and for the significant role their family of 3,500 employees plays in volunteering their time and talents to ensure that every initiative is a success,” said Khan.
The rest of the day was devoted to the MHA
2016 Tradeshow. The sold out show, featuring 30 new exhibitors, achieved even
higher attendance numbers than last year, demonstrating that it remains one of
the strongest hotel industry tradeshows in Canada. Highlights included numerous
Jets tickets giveaways and a $1,000 grand prize awarded on the tradeshow floor
at the end of the day.
The event wrapped up with an update session
from Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries for all Manitoba liquor licensees.
We were pleased that Convention and
Tradeshow received coverage in Business section of the Winnipeg Free Press (see link in email).
The Manitoba Hotel Association extends a big
thank you to all the sponsors, exhibitors, guest speakers and hotel members who
came together to make this event a big success. We’re looking forward to
another successful Convention and Tradeshow in 2017!