MISSISSAUGA — Seven months into his role as Hotel Association of Canada chair, IHG’s Jonathan Lund says his role is “not work if you feel good about what you’re doing,” and that “it is a privilege to fill this role.”
This has been a fun year, Lund, regional vice-president for IHG, told CLN in an interview. “We’re bracing for any challenges in 2020.”
Lund has spent four years on the HAC board of directors, including time as vice-chair. “In four years, I have seen a complete transformation of the organization. It’s an exciting time to be part of the HAC.”
He noted that Susie Grynol is back from her maternity leave. “Susie has been a big part of that transformation. She is such a dynamic leader with a dynamic vision.” At the same time, “While Susie was away, we had two interim presidents, but her team didn’t miss a beat. It’s a compliment to Susie and the board that we have such a capable team in Ottawa.”
The HAC board is bigger and stronger, than before, with representation from the provinces, chains and independent hoteliers and ownership groups. “We have more diversity, which is really good,” said Lund. “In 2019, we added five new women to the board, beating our goal of 20 per cent representation by 2020. We hope to have 30 per cent women by 2022. We have signed an agreement with Catalyst Accord, an international organization that supports different boards in reaching new diversity targets.”
The association has also significantly changed its membership model, opening membership up at the property level, and charging individual hotels just $2 per room per year. Under the old membership model, HAC had 41 members, including some very large chains. Today, it has 1,045 members, an increase of 2,693 per cent. “It’s amazing the engagement people have with the new model. There’s a real need to have a national body that represents the industry, and it adds credibility to the work we have done already.”
Short term rentals have become a national issue, as shown by the recent announcement by both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Progressive Conservative leader Andrew Scheer regarding the way digital economies are taxed in Canada.
“We have a robust strategic plan for short-term rentals and a lot of work has been done by the HAC working with the Fair Rules campaign. There’s been a lot of presence and information sharing,” Lund said.
Destination Employment addresses the second of HAC’s major issues: labour. The original video showing what has been done at the Atlantica Hotel in Halifax has been updated, including information on The Courtyard by Marriott Toronto and its GM Murray Kelsey. The program currently has 71 new Canadian employees in hotels, and is very positive, said Lund. Next steps include looking for other ways to engage other labour experts and get more people into the program.
“Hospitality offers such a diverse range of jobs, and there’s a sense of community in hotels. It’s not only the work, but the people,” Lund said.
Asked about the extra workload generated by his commitment as HAC chair, Lund said: “I travel all the time. The HAC meetings are a small part of my year to really support the priorities of hoteliers. The things I hear from owners, I bring to my work at the board level — it’s a perfect fit. It’s not work if you feel good about what you’re doing.
“It’s a privilege to fill this role.”