Monday, October 9, 2017


From coast to coast, The Cross Canada Hotel Bar Hop in last month's EnRoute Magazine highlights some of the most well-known - and dare I say, venerable - Canadian hotel watering holes, such as the Roof Lounge at the Park Hyatt Toronto and the Library Bar in the Fairmont Royal York.

On a recent site visit to "Cowtown" this past summer my client and I bellied up the bar at ONE18 Empire, in the newly renovated Marriott Downtown, Calgary. We were duly schooled in the history of Canadian prohibition, and yes the story about the guys who died in the Empire Hotel fire in a poker stand off.

There are few others mentioned in the article that I can (memorably) cross off my personal "been there, drank that" list, including the Dom Perignon Bar in the phemomenal Palm Court of the Ritz-Carlton, Montreal - and, oh, I'm getting thirsty now - so will be adding the rest to my (ice) bucket list.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Meetings Imitate Art

On a recent site visit to Quebec City my client and I visited the Musée National des Beaux Arts du Québec (MNBAQ) and Musée de la Civilisation as off-site options for up to 400 people. Both venues have undergone recent renovations, and offer a wide range of options and experiences for groups - including access to galleries to interactive exhibits.

One of MNBAQ's Temporary Exhibit Galleries

The popular "old jail" section of MNBAQ

If you hold your meeting during the AMAZING Festival d'été de Québec your group will have access to dozens of performances on outdoor stages throughout the downtown, and on the Plains of Abraham.

The Centre des Congrès de Québec added additional exhibit space a few years ago, and is connected by indoor passageways to both the Quebec Hilton and the Delta Quebec

An exceedingly walkable city, you never know when you're going to happen upon a piece of art, or performance.

Physical comedy and acrobatics entertain kids of all ages in the shadow of the famous "castle" (Chateau Frontenac), under an almost-full moon, with Salvador Dali's elephant sculpture in the background #dalielephant  

A HUGE "Merci" to Quebec Region's Meetings & Conventions bureau for facilitating our trip, and for all they do to partner with meeting professionals to bring successful and productive business events to their destination.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Travelling for Business - Mostly

I sometimes joke that mixing business with pleasure is my super-power, congratulating myself whenever I succeed in carving out some personal time to explore and enjoy a destination outside the walls of a hotel ballroom or my guestroom.

This is a fun little spot by Crowne Plaza Hotels giving road warriors permission to take advantage of hotel amenities and services - while getting the job done.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Marwood - Brands Explained

The jokey "Brangelina"-type contraction of Marriott and Starwood continues to be used as a short-form for some of the ongoing challenges since the acquisition which created the largest hotel chain in the world.

One of the challenges is distinguishing the various brands - many of which would be considered competitors in most markets, and virtually inter-changeable in the eyes of the consumer.

This Skift opinion piece, Every One of Marriott's 30 Brands Explained is a very thorough rundown of the current Marriott and Starwood brand messages along with some commentary of perhaps where the brands will (or should) go to differentiate themselves and maintain share.

Something to keep in mind if it appears a Marriott "monopoly" will impinge competition is that the vast majority of hotels are not actually company-owned.  Individual hotel owners and hotel owning companies will continue to demand their share of the business.

And then you have *us*.  My job is to create competition for my clients' business - no matter who owns the bricks and mortar, or flies the flag on the top of the building - I will ensure hotels sharpen their pencils and offer the best possible prices and terms, regardless of who they're competing against.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Human Trafficking and "The Code"

Just this week a couple in Red Deer, Alberta was charged with Human Trafficking in a case of exploiting temporary workers - at a hotel.  Details here

In this case the victims were being forced to work long hours for meager wages - and that pay was being clawed back as rent for living in a hotel room shared with up to four other workers. In other hotels and motels around the world, thousands of children are being trafficked for sex.

The statistics are heartbreaking.
  • Average age: 13 years  
  • Average life expectancy of child being trafficked: seven years
  • 95% of recovered child sex victims ran away from an abusive home
  • 1/3 of runaways are picked up by a pimp within 48 hours
  • Odds that a victim will be rescued: 1 in 100
....and the most disturbing, for those of us in the hospitality industry:

  • 94% of all sex trafficking takes place in a hotel or motel

Which is why ConferenceDirect has created a task force to address the issue - urging all associates to educate ourselves, sign "The Code", have meaningful conversations with our hotel and CVB partners, and even include language in our RFPs and contracts:

"As a socially responsible company and signatory of The Tourism Child-Protection Code of Contact (, the Hotel is committed to combating commercial sexual exploitation of children. The Hotel stands firm in our resolve to create awareness of sex trafficking of children by utilizing our professional resources in the travel and tourism industry. We ask that our partners do the same."

The Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct is the only voluntary set of business principles travel and tour companies can implement to prevent child sex tourism and trafficking of children. The Code is a joint venture between the tourism private sector and ECPAT.
Companies that endorse The Code are supported by ECPAT-USA to :

  1. Establish a policy and procedures against sexual exploitation of children.
  2. Train employees in children's rights, the prevention of sexual exploitation and how to report suspected cases.
  3. Include a clause in contracts throughout the value chain stating a common repudiation and zero tolerance policy of sexual exploitation of children.
  4. Provide information to travelers on children's rights, the prevention of sexual exploitation of children and how to report suspected cases.
  5. Support, collaborate and engage stakeholders in the prevention of sexual exploitation of children.
  6. Report annually on their implementation of Code related activities.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

At What Cost?

Speculation about the cost - beyond the estimated 18 billion dollar hit to the U.S. economy - continues to swirl around the issue of Trump's infamous travel ban.  Job losses in the tourism and hospitality sector seem likely, at the very least. Not so tangible is the possible intellectual impact from international scientific and academic communities choosing not to meet in the United States.

See Convene magazine's article Will Global Planners Cross the U.S. Off the List? for some of the latest research figures and specific examples of lost opportunities.