Supporting ALBERTA’S TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY
Current News & Information
August 14, 2015
Check In Canada Increases Your Online Bookings Through TravelAlberta.com
Visitors can now search hotel listings and book directly with you through travelalberta.com as a result of Check In Canada's partnership with Travel Alberta. Travel Alberta will continue to update their website to include more features, such as Green Key & Star Quality ratings, and consumer feedback. You can find out more about Check In Canada here or contact Jordan McKay at 780.423.9248.
August 14, 2015
Think Your Hotel Is An Employer Of Choice? Don't Miss Out!
Last year, the AHLA recognized 110 hotels and motels with the Employer of Choice designation. Will you be one this year? The deadline is still three months away – but don't leave it to the last minute! Your employees need to complete the Employee Opinion Survey for you to be eligible to receive the EoC designation.
Applying for the EoC designation helps you:
- Attract, recruit & retain the best employees;
- Show your staff and guests that their satisfaction matters to you; and
- Be recognized as an industry leader!
Show that you are a great place to work and stay by participating in the 2016 Employer of Choice Program today!
"The AHLA's Employer of Choice program made us aware of many industry best practices and helped us to have a stronger HR program. It has helped us make sure that our team feels valued. We are very proud to be an Employer of Choice!" – Shona Karas, HR Director, Comfort Inn & Suites Airdrie
Every property that participates will receive a comprehensive report that will help you to improve your HR practices, even if you don't receive the designation. Employer of Choice award recipients will be recognized on Tuesday, April 19 at the AHLA's 96th Annual Convention at The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
If you have already started your application, please remind your staff to do the Employee Opinion Survey. If you haven't started yet, now is the perfect time to get started! If you have any questions about the EoC program, please contact Zainub Siddiqui at 1.888.436.6112 x 249.
July 09, 2015
Meet Your New MLA
There are 70 new MLAs in the Legislature. As such, it is important that we work to educate them on the issues that are important to the tourism industry, including the history of the Tourism Levy, minimum wage, and liquor & gaming. We need to connect with all MLAs to build and foster relationships. By informing your elected representative about the role and importance of the tourism/hospitality industry in Alberta, you can help them see you as a trusted constituent.
The AHLA suggests that you:
- Contact the MLA for both your personal constituency and the one where the hotel is situated. If you are able to get a meeting with either or each of them, that is a win.
- Invite them for a tour of your property at their convenience. You may have better luck getting an earlier meeting if you are willing to go to their constituency office (usually Fridays are constituency days).
- Whether you go to them or they come to you, treat them like they are a guest or potential guest.
- Get to know your MLA & understand what is important to them (and their party).
- Inform them about the tourism & hospitality industry in Alberta. Remember that MLAs, their party, and the government have multiple stakeholders to satisfy. Don’t expect them to give you an answer or to commit to a position with you.
- Be respectful even if you don’t agree with their position.
- Thank them for meeting with you and remember that this is only one issue – there may be others in the future where their support and understanding is even more important.
We encourage you to connect with other hoteliers in your area to try and arrange a meeting together.
June 18, 2015
AHLA Presents Premier with Minimum Wage Recommendations
Last week, the AHLA submitted our position at a consultation with Alberta’s Premier Rachel Notley and the Honourable Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Job, Skills, Training and Labour.
We believe that the slowdown in Alberta’s economy and the corresponding fiscal challenges faced by our newly elected government will provide an opportunity to consider our minimum wage policy recommendations.
The tourism industry is stronger when AHLA members take initiative to deliver a common message to their MLA's. Be sure to talk to your MLA about how Alberta’s minimum wage increase will impact your business.
May 27, 2015
Fox Creek Bylaw Update
Recently the Town of Fox Creek passed a bylaw raising hotels’ business licence fees to an amount equal to their annual Tourism Levy remittance.
The AHLA recognizes that municipalities require predictable and sustainable funding for their infrastructure needs. Like all other businesses, hotels contribute to municipal revenues through their property taxes. However, Town Council has only included the business licence fee for hotels, from $75 per year to 4% of their annual room revenue.
Click here to view the AHLA's position on the Town of Fox Creek's business licence fee.
The AHLA encourages you to monitor your city or town council for similar legislation and inform us immediately if this arises in your community.
May 27, 2015 – Edmonton Journal : Business Licence For Fox Creek Hotel Goes Up 133,233%
May 27, 2015 - Edmonton Journal: Making Guests Pay For Road, Water Fixes Offside, Alberta Hoteliers Say
May 28, 2015 – 770 AM CHQR: Robin Cumine, AHLA Board Member, on Fox Creek Business Licence Fee: http://www.newstalk770.com/audio-on-demand-2/ (search May 28 at 8:45 a.m.)
May 26, 2015
Recruit & Retain Aboriginal Workers
Your hotel needs stable, dependable workers. Did you know that Canada's Aboriginal population is growing at a faster rate than any other segment of society? You can meet your hotel's need for staff by tapping into the pool of trained, capable Aboriginal workers.
The AHLA is offering five FREE workshops to help you recruit and retain Aboriginal workers. The first workshop takes place at the AHLA office on June 9th, from 9 a.m. to noon. Speaker Dan Martel will discuss:
- Recruiting & retaining;
- Legal considerations;
- Cultures within Aboriginal groups; and
- Common myths about Aboriginal people.
Registration is limited! To secure your spot in the workshop, contact Zainub Siddiqui at 780.423.9249.
April 8, 2015
The AHLA's 2014 Annual Report Is Now Available!
Want to know how the AHLA has been serving you over the past year? Take a minute to flip through the 2014 Annual Report for a breakdown of the AHLA's activities, targets, accomplishments, and goals moving forward!
Click here to start reading now!
March 27, 2015
The 2015-16 Board Of Directors Results Are In!
Perry Wilford, Governance Committee Chair, is pleased to announce that the following candidates have been elected a two-year term in the North Zone:
- Ken Mealey (83 votes)
- Shazma Charania (51 votes)
March 16, 2015
Scam Alert: Take Your Power Back
The AHLA often hears of aggressive tactics used by salesmen to convince hotels and motels to buy power and gas from them, and not through the AHLA. By being part of our programs with trusted suppliers like ENMAX and Gas Alberta, you get the best available rate on the market that day. Remember, you benefit from strength in numbers when you purchase these commodities through the AHLA—regardless of the size of your property or group. Know how to deal with utility companies & consultants to protect your business!
Did you know most door-to-door and telephone salespeople are paid on commission? This motivates them to push their sales. One tactic salespeople often use to assess your power or gas rate is to review your most recent invoice and divide the total amount of your bill by your consumption. Then they tell you that you're paying way too much and they can cut your costs. This is not an accurate measure of what you pay!
Does that approach seem a little too easy? That's because it is.
Regardless of who you buy power and gas from, you will pay fees for distribution and transportation. Make sure you compare the actual cost of the commodity over the entire period of the contract.
How to avoid this approach:
- Understand your bill: distribution and transmission charges on your invoice are fixed charges that no supplier can reduce;
- Test the competition: get the salesperson to compare rate-to-rate; and
- Take notes: when you sign up for Power and Natural Gas, remember that we are offering you the best available rate on the market that day.
While consultants are highly knowledgeable on the power and natural gas market, they do not necessarily provide their services for free. Consider this— why would you pay consultants an upfront fee when the AHLA offers an independent, highly-respected consultant for you to use at any time, including an audit process to ensure that you’re getting the best available prices? Keep in mind that commodity retailers are private companies that work for their stakeholders. The AHLA is a non-profit industry association that works for you, our members.
If the consultant is not charging you a fee, then the power and gas company you sign up with is receiving commission off your contract. This begs the question, who are they working for? Who will you turn to if you have billing issues in the future?
If the numbers don’t add up, it’s because they don’t make sense. Don’t be fooled by salespeople with an agenda—the numbers don’t lie.
For more information, contact Libby van Rossum at 780.423.9232.
March 16, 2015
Learn How Express Entry Can Help You Get The Workers You Need
In December, Government of Alberta presented a series of webinars to provide information on the Express Entry system. This presentation is now available online for you to review.
The video will help you:
- learn about Express Entry and how it works
- learn how this system can help your business
- have a better understanding of Express Entry through various example scenarios
To view this presentation, please click here.
March 6, 2015
Communicating The Impacts Of The TFWP On Our Industry
Temporary Solution, Permanent Problem
Over the last year, there has been a lot of talk surrounding the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP). On March 2, Perry Batke was featured in the cover story of Alberta Venture's article, "Temporary Solution, Permanent Problem." In this article, Perry illustrates, from a general manager's perspective, how the TFWP directly affects his properties.
February 27, 2015
AINP/TFWP Bridging Agreement
A letter from Ric McIver, Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour
The Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour, Honourable Ric McIver, informed the AHLA of the following:
The Government of Alberta has reached an agreement with the Government of Canada on temporary foreign workers (TFWs) awaiting assessment by the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP).
Alberta’s position remains steadfast that Canadians have the first opportunity at available jobs. This agreement allows a portion of TFWs who are already working, contributing to our economy, and have applied for permanent residency, an opportunity to remain in Alberta.
While the agreement does not cover everyone who has applied to the AINP, it helps mitigate the challenges employers and some TFWs face following the federal overhaul of the TFW program.
The Agreement applies to TFWs:
• who have applied to the AINP before July 1, 2014;
• whose work permit will expire February to December 2015;
• who meet AINP eligibility criteria;
• who are with the same employer declared on the original AINP application;
• whose employer is in good standing with Employment and Social Development Canada, Alberta Employment Standards and Alberta Occupational Health and Safety; and
• whose AINP application is not scheduled for a full assessment in 2015.
The Agreement, which took effect February 1, 2015, contains two relief mechanisms for those who meet the requirements stated above:
• first, the federal government will provide a one-time exemption for low-wage TFWs from being counted towards their employer’s 30 per cent cap; and
• second, the federal government will provide a one-time, one-year non-renewable, employer-specific bridging work permit that is exempt from a Labour Market Impact Assessment to TFWs in NOC B, C and D, who are subject to the four-year cumulative duration limit.
Eligible applicants will be notified by AINP staff. AINP has already started notifying applicants. Individuals covered by the Agreement will receive a letter in advance of their current work permit expiry date.
The AHLA continues to work with all levels of government – stay tuned for future developments!
February 25, 2015
Board Elections: Update
Thank you to everyone who submitted nominations to elect two individuals to the Board of Directors. The following directors have been acclaimed in the South & Central zones:
- Chris Barr, General Manager
Banff Aspen Lodge
- Dwayne Stratton, General Manager
Holiday Inn Lethbridge
- Karen Naylor, General Manager
Super 8 Edmonton South
Ramada Sherwood Park
- Tina Tobin, General Manager
Three candidates are vying for the two seats available in the North zone:
Peter Parmar, Executive Director, Operations
Shazma Charania, Owner
Ken Mealey, Western Regional Operations
Elections take place March 23 – 27, 2015.
February 20, 2015
The AHLA Announces This Year's Employer of Choice Recipients!
For the full list of award recipients, please click here!
February 10, 2015
As announced in our recent Innsider E-blast, AHLA members will elect two Board of Directors in each of our three zones: North, Central, South. Nomination forms are now available!
Click here to see who's running for election & keep checking back!
February 5, 2015
Beware of Changing Business Licence Fees
You probably don’t think much of it when you receive an invoice for your annual business licence fee. Would you think again if that invoice was for $127,000? That's what happened to AHLA members in Fox Creek, where the town council is trying to increase business licence fees for hotels from $75 per year to a whopping 4% of their total annual room revenue. Although hoteliers are fighting to have their voices heard with the support of the AHLA, the Town of Fox Creek is still trying to push this through.
Under Alberta's Municipal Government Act, cities and towns do not have the authority to levy taxes. Councils and their administrators are seeking ways to fund their infrastructure needs, and are trying to use business licence fees – on hotels – to do that.
The AHLA believes that:
- Applying a business licence fee on any one segment of the business community is nothing less than a sales tax, which local governments do not have the right or authority to levy.
- Hotels and motels should be free to participate in destination marketing programs if they wish to do so. No hotel should be forced to participate in a destination marketing program.
- Business licence fees charged should reflect the cost of the service provided for that fee. Business licence fees should not be used by municipal governments as an alternative means of taxing hotels or any other business.
- While cities and towns may agree to use these monies to fund tourism, when financial pressures arise, there is no guarantee they won't use these funds for other priorities like roads and sewers.
The AHLA is concerned about the plan to increase business licence fees in the Town of Drumheller to $496 per guest room and $63 per campsite. While the Town has agreed to use these funds to support tourism and has the support of some local hotels, it sets a precedent that other municipalities may try to emulate. We strongly encourage all members to monitor your city or town council’s agendas to ensure they don’t try to do the same in your community.
January 22, 2015
You've Got The Power To Thwart The Scam
Service & Hospitality Industries are Victims of Phone Scam
It was recently brought to our attention that scammers are targeting the service & hospitality industries.
Scam artists are phoning businesses, stating that their electricity account is in arrears and they must make a payment to avoid immediate disconnection (typically the threat is somewhere from 1-4 hours). This includes Epcor, Fortis, and ENMAX customers. The caller leaves a number (1.800.452.0273) which leads to a recording indicating you've reached the “Disconnection Department” and to stay on the line for an agent. The victim is then asked to make payment by credit card, Paypal, or pre-paid Visa/MasterCard debit cards.
ENMAX, Epcor, and Fortis Alberta do not immediately disconnect customers in this way. If there are arrears on a customer account, all three utilities work with customers to make payment arrangements and notify them well in advance of a disconnection taking place.
ENMAX has been in contact with Calgary Police about the issue and have also spoken to Telus in the hopes of having the number shut down (though it turns out they do not host the number and we are therefore trying to contact AT&T as it’s possible this is originating in the U.S.).
Click here to listen to an actual phone call with scammers: http://globalnews.ca/news/1764419/enmax-warns-of-phone-scam-claiming-power-will-be-disconnected/
If you receive a suspicious phone call:
Do not give out any personal or business information, including account numbers or addresses.