B.C. hotel industry struggling with labour shortages, increased costs

Prince George’s role as service hub helped maintain demand for hotel rooms during pandemic

Nearly three years after the COVID-19 pandemic delivered a gut-punch to B.C.’s hotel industry, workforce shortages that prevent hotels from operating at capacity still hamper the path to recovery.

The province now has as many as 50,000 job vacancies in tourism and hospitality and federally there’s a shortage of 300,000 workers.

The federal government has adjusted its Temporary Foreign Workers policies to allow the hospitality industry to bring in up to 30 per cent of its workforce from other countries. The program allows them to work while they wait for approval as landed immigrants and that’s helped increase employment numbers, but it’s not enough to fill the thousands of jobs currently available in B.C. hotels.

“Many of the hotels are operating at 70 to 80 per cent capacity because they don’t have people to clean the rooms,” said Ingrid Jarrett, president and CEO of the B.C. Hotel Association. “This is the tightest labour market that we’ve seen and it’s not just our industry, it’s construction, manufacturing, many industries because the baby boomers are retiring and the tech sector is growing.”

Fuelled by megaprojects like the LNG Canada gas terminal, BC Hydro’s Site C dam, Trans Mountain Pipeline and Coastal GasLink pipeline, hotels in the Prince George-Prince Rupert-Fort St. John corridor avoided the precipitous drop in business during the pandemic felt more profoundly in Victoria, Vancouver and the Okanagan, whose economies are more dependent on tourism.

Prince George has significantly increased its hotel room inventory over the past five years to meet the demand for rooms, largely driven by the city’s role as northern B.C. hub for goods and services, health care, and the prevalence of large-scale natural resource projects in the region. 

The new hotels –

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Chicago hotels look to avoid labor union strike amid recovery

Hotel managers may argue they don’t need as many workers to run their properties with the COVID-fueled advent of new practices like mobile check-in and more guests opting out of daily room cleaning. Owners — many of whom are still trying to recoup hefty losses from 2020 and 2021 — may also balk at union pay-hike demands as higher costs of supplies and other goods squeeze their profits.

Net cash flow last year through October at the Sheraton Grand Chicago, for example, was running at just more than half of its 2019 level, while the W Chicago in the Loop posted similar numbers during the 12 months ended in September compared with its full-year 2019 figures, according to Bloomberg data. Spokesmen for both hotels did not respond to requests for comment.

Yet labor leaders will likely negotiate from a position of strength because many hotels still can’t find enough workers for housekeeping and other service-related jobs. A September survey of 200 hotels by the American Hotel & Lodging Association found that 87% of respondents were experiencing a staffing shortage. Many workers left the industry for other jobs when the pandemic shuttered hotels and have not returned.

Unite Here Local 1, the union that led the 2018 strike and represented more than 3,700 Chicago hotel workers as of 2021, will likely have more negotiating leverage to push for higher wages, increased benefits and new workplace rules, says Robert Bruno, a labor studies professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. But after so much upheaval in the hospitality sector over the past three years, both sides will also have to come to an understanding about the post-pandemic Chicago hotel experience for guests, he says.

“Should there be first-class room service? Should there be a full catering staff? Should rooms be cleaned on

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Bargain Travelers Beware: Hotel Rates to Remain High This Summer


Travelers hoping for a hotel rate reprieve this summer after last year’s higher room rates may need to perform some extra legwork to find a bargain. Marriott reports they will feature higher hotel rates this year per room, although travelers shouldn’t expect the percentage hikes to be anywhere near as high as they were in 2022.

Will higher hotel rates keep the guests away? Marriott CEO Anthony Capuano doesn’t believe so. During a recent Investment Summit in Los Angeles, Capuano assuaged industry professionals’ concerns that “we do not think we have tapped all of the pent-up demand that’s out there for travel.”

With steady demand and more people willing to travel as the pandemic moves further away from their primary concerns, finding a discount may be a challenging search this summer.

Should hoteliers relax this season and wait for rooms to book at any price? Travel expert and Ask A Concierge’s Sarah Dandashy believes prudence and preparation for travelers and hoteliers alike is the best bet in this current climate.

Sarah’s Thoughts

“There has been a lot of talk lately about what we can expect moving forward into the summer of 2023 regarding hotel room rates. Will they still be as pricey and expensive as we saw in 2022? The short answer is yes, although the price jump won’t be as significant as we saw last year. Marriott’s CEO recently shared this information as well.

As far as this price hike and how it will impact travel demands, it is not so significant that it will deter travelers from traveling. Travelers expect that they are going to be paying a premium. They understand and value their paid time off, and there has been this consumer travel consumer shift that they will pay the price to go and have their

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The Best Time to Book a Hotel to Save Money

The early bird doesn’t always get the worm.

<p>Flashpop/Getty Images</p>

Accommodations are one of the biggest travel expenses out there, sometimes ending up even more costly than transportation. So it’s never a bad idea to maximize your savings when booking a hotel. One way to do that is to book at the right moment. Hotel prices are dynamic, fluctuating based on supply and demand — that means the price you see when you’re searching for hotels one day might change the very next, even if the dates of your stay remain the same. So, when is the best time to book a hotel? Read on to find out.

Related: The Best Time to Book a Flight for Domestic, International, and Summer Travel

<p>Frank Rothe/Getty Images</p>

When to Book a Hotel to Save Money

Figuring out the best time to book a hotel isn’t an exact science — there’s plenty of variation throughout the industry. But if we’re looking at statistics, the lowest prices for hotel rooms are typically found just 15 days before your stay. Yes, last-minute bookings are (usually) better. A 2022 NerdWallet study analyzed more than 2,500 hotel room rates from 2019 through the first half of 2021 and found an average of 13 percent savings for those who booked 15 days in advance as compared to those who booked four months in advance.

Keep in mind this is just an average and doesn’t take into account busy travel periods, such as the holidays, when you should definitely book in advance. And according to data from the travel app Hopper, the 15-day benchmark is a good one for big business cities, such as New York and Chicago, but it’s not as accurate for vacation destinations like the Caribbean or Hawaii. In those destinations, Hopper notes that hotel rates are usually lowest about

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Hotel Giants Ramp Up Push To Take Over Competitor Hotels Via Conversion

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Hilton’s new conversion-minded brand, Spark by Hilton

The country’s largest hotel brands are looking to convert more existing hospitality properties than in previous years as their development pipelines slow.

Hilton Worldwide Holdings launched Spark by Hilton last month, its 19th brand but the first aimed at attracting independent and competing properties, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Two-thirds of new BWH Hotel Group properties, which include Best Western hotels, are conversions, up from its historical rate of 50% conversions and 50% new construction, BWH CEO Larry Cuculic told the WSJ. 

Marriott International’s global development officer said it is adding more rooms by conversion than it has historically. A conversion can allow an owner of an older property to renovate to standards of a lower-cost segment if it is expensive to meet the requirements of its existing brand.

The push to convert existing properties to new brands comes as the pipeline and projections for new hotel supply have diminished. In its annual hotel market forecast released last week, CBRE projected hotel room supply growth to sit 40% lower than historical trends over the next five years.

At the end of 2022, there were approximately 612,000 hotel rooms in the pipeline, down 2.6% from 2021 and 6.1% fewer than in 2019, according to Lodging Analytics Research & Consulting data cited by the WSJ. 

While the largest hotel brands are looking to take over properties via conversion, there have been a handful of significant sales of smaller hospitality brands in recent months.

Last month, Sortis Holdings, an Oregon-based hospitality firm, paid $85M for the Ace Group International hotel brand, which has 11 locations in markets like Japan, LA, New York and Seattle. Sortis plans to increase the Ace portfolio to 30 hotels.

In November, Hyatt Hotels

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A few hotel changes to expect

With airline turmoil taking headlines, it’s easy to overlook the fact that you’ll likely spend more on hotels than air tickets in your travels this year. And the main expectations in hotel travel will probably be no surprise: continued inflation, reduced service and more new “brands” from the giant chains. The main saving grace in facing hotel prices is that trading down a bit is easier and less painful than it is with airlines. If your main need is simply a place to get a good sleep, today’s economy hotels o ffer a pretty good value.

That fact is likely behind Hilton’s announcement that it is launching a premium economy brand, the company’s first foray into a marketplace currently dominated by Choice, Wyndham and Best Western. “Spark” will open its first properties this year, priced below Hilton’s former lower-end Hampton brand. As far as I can tell, most initial locations will be conversions of properties previously operating as other brands rather than new builds.

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If you can’t keep all the different hotel “brands” separate in your mind, you’re not alone. Hilton’s new brand brings its total to 19; Choice is up to 13 brands with its new Radisson combination, IHG has 18, Hyatt has 16, and Marriott boasts 30. Some classifications are easy to understand, such as “economy,” “midscale,” “suite” and “extended stay,” but the more recent innovation is “lifestyle” hotels, which, as far as I can tell, are conventional hotels with a thick application of nonsense.

In Europe, giant Accor is focusing on its popular Ibis brand, now divided into at least three price sub-brands. And in the U.K., both midprice giants, Premier Inn and Travelodge, have segmented their offerings into different price levels.

On the price-comparison front, I’m not

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World’s best hotel to be crowned this year in new list

The World’s 50 Best lists are famous for turning restaurants into household names. Take Noma, which went from a little-known Copenhagen restaurant to international phenomenon after it was crowned No. 1 in the world in 2010.

Now the company that has become a kingmaker for the globe’s top restaurants and bars is preparing to do the same for hotels.

The inaugural list of the World’s 50 Best Hotels will be released at a ceremony in September. As usual, the company will do its best to drive the hype: The winners will be revealed during a live countdown, culminating in the announcement of the No. 1 destination.

UK-based William Reed Business Media, which operates the World’s 50 Best rankings, sees an opportunity to fill a gap in the market.

“The hotel awards business has been quite locked up with advertisers/big business predominantly being the deciders of who are the winners,” says Yolanda Edwards, one of the new award’s nine unpaid regional “academy chairs” and the former creative director of Condé Nast Traveler U.S. “To have an independent award list that actually surfaces real favorites can not only bring to light incredible properties that might otherwise go unnoticed, it can also surface best practices that might have incredible impact on larger hospitality groups.”

Various companies publish star ratings or awards for hotels, such as Forbes and Condé Nast. Michelin includes hotels in its guides, which were originally produced to encourage road trips, and in 2021 expanded its hotel program. Countries or regions maintain standards for what they consider to be a 1-star to 5-star hotel.

None of them, arguably, singularly focus the public’s attention quite like a global rankings list that determines the best offering in the world.

And that raises a question: How can you determine that one

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The Strand Hotel: Sydney’s best kept secret

While you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s just another quaint pub on a Sydney corner, there is much more than meets the eye when it comes to The Strand Hotel.

The boutique hotel sits on the corner of William and Crown Streets in the bustling inner-city suburb of Darlinghurst. I stayed here with my partner and we were shocked at what a far cry the hotel was from its former self.

Now completely renovated into an elegant accommodation for visitors and Sydneysiders alike, The Strand has transformed from your regular pub with Carlton branding to a sleek black and white heritage building that boasts a mouth-watering French-inspired bistro, pumping rooftop bar and stylish hotel rooms that make it a top place to stay while getting amongst everything the city has to offer.

When we checked in we were greeted by friendly staff who took us to our room which had a surprising, modern twist. While it embraced the quirks and charms of the heritage building, it had a luxurious feel with its polished black and white finishings. Simple, yet classic.

The Strand Hotel boutique hotel room and rooftop. Source: Supplied

The Strand Hotel boutique hotel room and rooftop. Source: Supplied

We were brought a refreshing Aperol Spritz straight to our room which helped us relax into the weekend, and given a tour of the executive co-working space with twilight aperitifs, making it a perfect stay for corporate workers.

We ventured to the rooftop bar to enjoy a glass of champagne in the golden hour of Friday afternoon and were surprised others had already discovered Sydney’s best-kept secret. Couples, friends and colleagues grabbing an after-work drink were basking in the afternoon sun flooding the roof, proving it’s a popular spot for a refreshing beverage.

Afterwards, we wandered down to the French-inspired bistro for a much-needed meal

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Tips to save when booking a hotel room this holiday season

After two years of travel
restrictions and lockdowns, more people may be flying and hitting the roads this holiday
season. Industry reports say hotel rates will jump so the time to book your
room is now.

News 12‘s consumer reporter Janice
Lieberman has The Real Deal on how you can save if you need to book a hotel

Google has become famous for
tracking flight prices, but you can now track prices at hotels as well.

Clint Henderson, the managing
editor at The Points Guy, says setting an alert for the location you want to
visit can help you score the best price.

“You can get alerted when a
hotel price drops substantially or goes up substantially,” Henderson says.

Hotel resort fees add to your final

“Sometimes calling the hotel
is your best option, and you can find all sorts of interesting deals that
way,” he says.

And while planning in advance is
usually your best bet, sometimes waiting can save you more.

“The rates you see on the
hotel website are generally as good as the third party booking engines. The
exception to that rule is last minute booking, so sometimes they’ll open up
inventory last minute that they wouldn’t normally and you can get deals,”
Henderson says.

Try to be flexible when it comes to
booking your hotel.

If you find a better deal, see if
you can cancel – but check cancellation fees.

Sign up for your favorite hotel
loyalty program or social media account to get the latest deals and offers.

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Some Virginia Beach hotels already sold out ahead of Something in the Water 2023

A stay at the Cavalier will run you about $5K that weekend

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Trying to book a hotel room in Virginia Beach for the 2023 Something in the Water Festival? You might not want to wait, as some hotels are already showing they’re booked.

Just hours after Pharrell Williams announced the festival’s return on Wednesday morning, booking data shows several hotels near the festival site from 4th Street to 15th Street had no capacity for a Friday to Monday stay, including the Hampton Inn at 10th and Pacific and the SpringHill Suites at 9th and Atlantic.

Now those are properties right on the beach near the venue, but several hotels further north are also showing no vacancy, including the Comfort Suites Beachfront and Oceanfront Front Inn on 29th and Atlantic. The Holiday Inn Express at 26th and Atlantic meanwhile was showing rates more than double of the next weekend, about $500 per night. That’s more expensive than current rates for the Fourth of July weekend.

Data from an ODU study showed hotel occupancy for the 2019 festival was 90% or higher for the whole city and about 94-96% for the Resort Area. 

John Zirkle, the president of the Virginia Beach Hotel Association, said some hotels may already be officially booked and others may have closed their booking to take inventory and make sure they can accommodate larger groups also expected in the area that weekend for non-festival events.

However, there don’t appear to be any major concurrent events in the region like there were in 2019, when about 40-50% of rooms were already taken before the festival was announced. Norfolk’s Festevents, which coordinates with other local event organizers to reduce overlap, says

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