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TORONTO — Josef Ebner, who has served on the Greater Toronto Hotel Association board for 24 years, was honoured at the association's 91st AGM at the Hilton Toronto on Wednesday, June 8. Ebner, who is regional VP Canada and managing director for the Chelsea Hotel Toronto, Canada's largest hotel, was praised by GTHA chair David Kelley for his influential role and extraordinary commitment. “He kept us in line,” Kelley said.
As he accepted the award, Ebner noted that the Chelsea will still be represented on the board by Robert Housez, the hotel's general manager.
Tourism Toronto update
Two hundred and eighty days into her job as president and CEO of Tourism Toronto, Johanne Belanger told the group of assembled hoteliers that she finds the industry fascinating and complex, dealing with everything from revenue and yield to global branding and managing renovations. And she now knows how essential Tourism Toronto's business is to hotels.
“These are good times, not easy times,” she said, noting that Canada has a currency advantage and throughout the country there more dollars for tourism marketing than ever before. “The opportunity has never been greater — we need to get it right,” she said.
To that end, Tourism Toronto is redesigning much of their business, redefining what they sell and how they sell and market the city. “We have a great story, but we have often been known as the 'centre of the universe,' which is not the most positive title,” she said.
Toronto's bold, new moniker is “Canada's Downtown,” and the city boasts they have the best entertainment, culture, sports and innovation, the best attractions and neighbourhood festivals.
“It's a state of mind,” said Belanger. “The foundation of the organization is changing outdates practices and approaches. We're listening to customers and stakeholders. Are we going to the right markets and customers? Are we reaching the right people? Are we maintaining and edge when it comes to internal client services?”
She added that the association needs more partners, and will be changing how they measure and report results to get long term data as well as results they can see right away.
“People talk a lot about the good old days. Trust me, these are the good old days, and we should use the good days to vault even higher,” Belanger said.