NEWS BRIEFS December 15, 2020

Zonetail launches assistance for restaurants

Mark Holmes, president and CEO, Zonetail.

TORONTO — Late last month, Zonetail Inc. launched its COVID-19 relief package for struggling independent restaurants, offering free advertising on both its condo and hotel platforms.

The Zonetail condo and hotel platforms connect condo residents and hotel guests to the amenities and services of the building through the convenience of their personal mobile device, digitizing the communications between the residents and guests with the condo and hotel. Included on both platforms is a robust “Explore” section, highlighting local businesses and services that condo residents and hotel guests are in need of, including local area restaurants.

Zonetail is now offering free advertising for independent restaurants across Canada on both its condo and hotel platforms to assist them as they manage this difficult and challenging time.

“COVID-19 has hit everyone very hard, but some businesses like independent restaurants in particular, are suffering greatly. We’re approaching what typically is the busiest and most profitable time of the year for restaurants, and now they’re facing another shutdown. Many have closed their doors permanently, and many more are likely to follow. We want to do everything we can to help these businesses survive,” said Mark Holmes, CEO and president of Zonetail. Holmes went on to say, “Zonetail is offering 100 per cent free advertising to these independent restaurants for the duration of the COVID crisis. All they need to do is go to the following website www.zonetail.com/COVIDrelief and fill out the form to get started.”

“Over the next six months, over 60 per cent [of restaurants] could be facing bankruptcy,” Holmes told CLN. “We have two verticals — hotels are one vertical and condos are the other. We have concentrated on the condo side during COVID, but will have a new platform ready for hotels in the third quarter of 2021.

“The new hotel platform will have user interchange, including mobile check-in and a whole suite of new features aimed at going touchless on the hotel stage. We are the only company offering a free mobile technology to hotels, enabling them to respond to guest requests and demands.”

Holmes continued, “In addition to our COVID-19 relief package, Zonetail has also partnered with GroundLevel Insights, alongside several City Councils, BIAs, the Ontario Restaurant, Hotel and Motel Association, and other organizations, to further assist restaurants and small businesses across the country.”

GroundLevel Insights has developed a new COVID tracing platform called CANATRACE (canatrace.com), to help provide a free, fast and secure bilingual solution for businesses to collect employee and patron information as per COVID tracing guidelines across Canada.

“We know that local businesses want to keep their customers and employees safe, and that Canadians want to support local businesses, however they are apprehensive. That’s why GroundLevel Insights started CANATRACE — a platform to help businesses restore customer confidence, supporting healthy environments while ensuring the safety of the data,” said Asif Khan, Founder of GroundLevel Insights and Founder of The Location Based Marketing Association. Khan also sits on the Advisory Board of Zonetail.

CANATRACE assists restaurants and other businesses in their compliance efforts with COVID-19 regulations by providing a free and easy-to-use platform that collects and keeps COVID-19 contact tracing data such as name, email, phone number and screening questions.

“Whether you are managing a bar, restaurant, hotel, museum, gym or any other business that requires COVID tracing for your employees and customers, CANATRACE is well suited to help businesses adapt on the fly to the everchanging government requirements for contact tracing data collection,” Khan says. “It’s easy to use, and best of all, it’s 100% free. We are very pleased to have Zonetail join our growing ecosystem of business partners who are providing this necessary service to their clients.”

“As a restaurant owner, I can tell you firsthand how incredibly difficult 2020 has been for us and our staff. We are doing everything we can just to survive the pandemic, and we need all the help we can get. We are very grateful to Zonetail and GroundLevel Insights for their efforts to assist independent restaurants in our time of need.” said Gavin Quinn, owner of Quinn’s Hospitality that owns and manages 5 restaurants including Quinn’s Steakhouse, and The Irish Embassy in downtown Toronto.

To sign up for Zonetail’s COVID relief package for small and independent restaurants, visit www.zonetail.com/COVIDrelief to get started.

To sign up for CANATRACE visit canatrace.com.

Cornell says Montreal hotels are most sustainable

Holiday Inn Montreal Centre-Ville.

ITHACA, N.Y. — The average carbon footprint of a hotel stay is down 10 per cent since 2015, according to the 2020 Cornell Hotel Sustainability Benchmarking (CHSB) Index, which has just been released. With over 14,000 participants from 55 countries from 20 international chains, this seventh iteration of CHSB saw an increase of 25 per cent in participation. CHSB, which is undertaken by Greenview, is the hotel industry’s largest annual benchmarking of energy, water and carbon. Open to hotels and hotel companies of all sizes, CHSB serves as a peer-based reference for assessing the hotel industry worldwide. Hotels were benchmarked regarding energy, water and carbon performance against competitive sets in the same geography, segment and climate zone.

The greatest reduction was across hotels in the U.K., in which carbon footprint reduced on average 23.4 percent between 2015 and 2018.

Hotels in India, Canada and the U.S. experienced a decrease of 14.4 per cent, 13.6 per cent and 12.1 per cent respectively. Hotels in China showed slightly less improvement at a 7.4 percent average reduction in carbon footprint. Of the countries contained within the index, in 2018, hotels in Switzerland had the lowest carbon intensity (20.4 kg CO2 emissions per square metre), whereas those in South Africa had the highest (209.78 kg CO2 emissions per square metre).

At city level, Montreal’s hotels are the best performing (24.63 kg CO2 emissions / sq m) while in Abu Dhabi the average hotel emits 251.55 kg CO2 emissions per square metre, the highest in the index.

Cornell would like to thank the following companies which contributed data to the 2020 CHSB Index: AINA Hospitality, CPG Hospitality, DiamondRock Hospitality Company, Hilton Worldwide, Horwath HTL Asia Pacific, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, InterContinental Hotels Group, Mandarin Oriental Hotels Group, Marriott International, MGM Resorts International, Park Hotel Group, Park Hotels & Resorts, Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, Red Planet Hotels, Ryman Hospitality Properties, Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, Sunstone Hotel Investors Inc, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Xenia Hotels & Resorts.

Hilton and Marriott CEOs say investors should act now

Chris Nassetta, president and CEO, Hilton.

Executives at Hilton and Marriott International say now is the time to take advantage of the opportunity to build out a diverse portfolio by snatching up bargained assets and developing at lower costs, according to an article in HotelNewsNow by Dana Miller.

Hilton president and CEO Chris Nassetta said that in an environment where everything is good, it gets harder for companies to distinguish themselves in terms of finding the right opportunities and outperforming competitors because “the rising tide lifts all the boats.” But when the tide goes down, it’s a time of opportunity.

When asked where to look for deals, Nassetta said to look in areas that have the greatest pain. For example, buying in markets or segments that people think will never be the same, such as urban or meetings-oriented hotels. Because, eventually, that demand will come back.

In terms of development, he said now is when you will find properties in the best brands and locations where owners have already done all the work but have been disrupted and don’t have the means to carry the project through.

“You’re going to build it cheaper, most likely, because you can get (subcontractors) at a better price, more of them, better quality work because they need the work … and you’re going to build it while everything is coming back in the next couple of years. Then, you’re going to deliver it to a big upswing,” he said.

Nassetta said where people go wrong in development is they take too long in a cycle to rationalize the rate structure and wait until the end of a cycle to build. Then, they deliver the product “into the jaws of the tiger.” He added that’s not as good as building at a lower price in a time of disruption and delivering in the upswing.

He said in the next 12 months, development opportunities will abate but could pick back up again by mid-next year.

Arne Sorenson, president and CEO, Marriott International.

Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International, said it’s important to recognize that in almost every stage of an economic cycle or crisis there are circumstances that can make it wise to either buy or sell. Ultimately, it will depend on location and product position.

He said some investors will be ready to proceed with underwriting a deal in 2021. But there will also be those who say, “we’re going to wait and see whether we get more clarity and make a decision only after we see what happens with group (business), for example,” he said.

There are hotels across the U.S. that are under enormous financial pressure, he said, magnified by high levels of debt. Some of those properties will come to market in 2021, he said.

Read the full HotelNewsNow article.

Tourism losing workers daily

OTTAWA — Although labour is not at the forefront of many agendas right now—where liquidity and financial relief must remain the priority since they are the lifeline keeping businesses open — the fact is that the workforce is a monumental and complex challenge that will soon take centre stage, according to a recent article posted by Tourism HR Canada.

Prior to the World Health Organization announcing the pandemic in mid March, Canada’s tourism sector was showing promising growth, poised for a record summer, with more than 2.1 million workers — our highest number ever. Within 10 weeks we lost 881,700 workers, and by the end of summer, 310,000 of those workers had not returned to jobs. By October, we started to shed workers again — with 375,000 displaced. The next few months will show a continued loss of workers.

Prior to COVID, more than ever, tourism employers were reporting shortages of skilled labour, which was affecting the bottom-line. Currently, most tourism employers are struggling financially and cannot afford to retain all workers. Although paradoxical, the challenge remains the same: the lack of workers is attributing to hampered growth, inflationary pressures, higher operating costs, and reduced productivity, and is eroding the quality of the workplace. Not having enough workers or ones with the right skills impacts the ability of tourism businesses—and the industry overall — to recover. The diminished capacity will delay recovery and mean there are fewer tourism products and services available.

As we move into a more aggressive recovery mode, our projections suggest greater labour and skills shortages than pre-COVID. One way to help mitigate this is to start investing — now — in programs and strategies to retain and bring back more workers. This requires government aid; businesses cannot do this on their own. The longer the workers are displaced, the greater the shortfall will be. They will move on to other jobs, many will retire, and attracting people to this sector will be a great challenge. It is now perceived as more precarious and perhaps unsafe work.

Recently announced Government of Canada programs — the Enhancing Canada Summer Jobs Funding and the Youth Employment Skills Strategy—may help address some of the shortfall of workers. Both programs aim to get young people in the workforce at times when the industry needs them most. The industry’s focus must now be on securing tourism as a priority for initiatives funded by these programs. As one of the hardest-hit sectors, tourism should be singled out specially to help marginalized groups gain meaningful and accessible employment.