CALGARY — Travelodge Canada hosted “Camp Travelodge,” a series of roadshows in Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Saskatoon during October and November. The smaller, more intimate gatherings provided a unique opportunity for hoteliers to network and suppliers to show off their products.
“Travelodge Hotel by Wyndham Saskatoon pulled out all the stops for our final meeting with our Camp Travelodge theme, complete with a campfire and two camp rangers to keep us in line and on time all day throughout our meeting,” said national director of marketing, Melissa Kenney. “We even had a surprise visit from Sleepy Bear!”
Trevor Hagel, executive vice-president of operations, Travelodge Canada introduced Travelodge staff members to delegates at the Toronto roadshow, which CLN attended, and then spoke about new brand standards, including uniforms, breakfast and televisions.
Nigel Lucas, executive vice-president of development, Superior Lodging Development TL/S8 Corp., gave the development update. “Since Superior Lodging Development TL Corp. purchased Travelodge Canada four years ago, we have added over 20 properties,” he told the Toronto roadshow. “Year to date, we have signed deals for Abbotsford, B.C., a former Best Western which will open at the end of November, and Blairmore, Alta., which will open in January 2019. Another Travelodge in Brandon, Man., will also open in January 2019.”
Lucas added that they have two deals in Quebec, in Rigaud and Alma, bringing the total number of Travelodge locations in that province to six. “We believe our footprint there can grow,” he said. They have opened a new-build Travelodge in Pincher Creek, Alta. The total number of Travelodge locations in Canada at the end of 2018 will be 102.
“With Travelodge, Days Inns and Super 8, Wyndham has more than 50 per cent of the market segment in Canada in terms of distribution,” Lucas said. “Ontario is the largest market for Travelodge with 34 hotels, while the Maritimes and Quebec provide a big opportunity for us,” he added.
At the Toronto meeting, Robin McLuskie of Colliers and Cameron Woof of CWB Franchise Finance, provided an overview of transactions and lending in the Canadian market.
The smaller gatherings gave suppliers an opportunity to give three-minute “elevator speeches” regarding their products. The suppliers were introduced by Jason Cheskes of Above the Line Solutions, who runs a purchasing program for Travelodge Canada, among other brands.
“My job is to help hotels, working out agreements with vendors to get you the best price,” Cheskes told the Toronto audience at the The Vue Event Venue near Toronto airport. “The reason purchasing is so challenging to do on your own is because of consolidation. Marriott/ Delta/ Starwood put pressure on the vendor procurement cycle to lower prices, and vendors have to pass that along to the smaller companies.”
While Wyndham out of the U.S. has buying clout, the deals are not always the most suitable for the Canadian marketplace. “If the vendor is Canadian, we can get better prices, delivery, etc., and we should be dealing with them.”
Vendors at the Toronto roadshow included LG, Ecolab, Gordon R. Williams, National Payments, HFA Custom Art and Mirror, Eden Textile, Foodbuy, Sysco Guest Supply, Van Houtte, Shaw, Sunco Key Card Ads, M Tech Locks, Canadian Trade House and Encore Draperies.
Melissa Kenney, national director of marketing, spoke about the new Travelodge “by Wyndham” signage, noting the Pincher Creek, Alta., is the first Canadian Travelodge to have the new signs. She talked about the new marketing approach, which is focused on highlighting local attractions, including national parks — “in this case, a perfect fit for Canada, as more and more people are enjoying the outdoors and needing that stress release.” She added that more than 60 per cent of Canadian Travelodge locations are less than one hour from a national park.
The Toronto roadshow wound up with a sales talk by Kathrin Jin, national sales director for Travelodge, and a presentation by Vas Koslovos, Expedia's market manager for Toronto on how to maximize their partnerships with Expedia.