One of our contributors, Dale Moll and his wife Koreen recently traveled through Calgary and decided to stay at the Fairmont Palliser Hotel.
We (Koreen and I) have been subscribers to the Fairmont Hotels great rates and great dates email notifications and when October dates came out, I saw that the Palliser had a great number of dates that were available and the basic price was $159. We were going through Calgary for a late family Thanksgiving holiday and decided to book into the Palliser for one night. I agreed to the $20 upgrade to a larger room and we got upgrade to the Gold (concierge) level. While this was Sunday night to Monday morning and so perhaps not peak time – it was very, very quiet; there was almost no one else in the lounge.
So the metric is low occupancy in the Palliser indicates to me there are significantly fewer business people staying in it and therefore are trying to draw in more “tourist” traffic through offering low rates and upgrades.
This account tends to confirm the oft-repeated story that except for Alberta’s mountain parks, life is rough for Alberta’s hoteliers. Business travel to Calgary and Edmonton is down mainly due to declines in oil prices reducing investment opportunities and also the need for corporations to limit any type of discretionary spending, like travel and lodging.
The above chart illustrates three measures of business travel. What is most interesting about the chart is the plunge of non-routine business travel. This statistic may be a good proxy measure of business travel that is based on the exploration of business opportunities. The other lines show that conference and convention business actually increased from 2014 to 2015. Major conference and conventions are usually set a year or more in advance and reflect the success of the major convention centres in attracting professional groups for annual meetings. Such groups typically move from one Canadian city to another but city convention authorities compete vigorously for the business. Convention business is also good for large urban hotels which compete to attract conventioneers staying overnight.