Supporting ALBERTA’S TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY

Current News & Information

May 18, 2016

Minimum Wage Update

The Government of Alberta announced today that they will be hosting consultations over the next month on how to move forward with changes to minimum wage. They will be consulting on future increases, meal and lodging deductions, and the phase-out of the differential liquor server rate. The AHLA will be participating in those consultations on behalf of our members.

In June 2015, the government announced its plan to raise Alberta's minimum wage to $15 per hour and to eliminate the liquor server differential. Shortly after, the AHLA submitted its position on minimum wage at a consultation with the Honourable Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour.

Over the last year, the AHLA has worked to connect with and inform government and elected officials on the devastating impacts such a drastic increase in minimum wage could have on your business. We have met with a number of MLAs who have listened to our concerns about the potential impacts of significant increases in our current economy. 

The AHLA will remain active in communicating with government about its position on minimum wage, continue to monitor the issue, and keep you informed. In the meantime, we encourage all of our members to talk to their MLA about how changes to minimum wage will affect your business.


May 10, 2016

Important Information For Fort McMurray Hotels

You and your team are in the thoughts of the Board, staff and membership of the Alberta Hotel & Lodging Association during the unprecedented events of the past week. We offer you our support, and want to help in any way we can. The AHLA has provided a list of all properties in Fort McMurray, including emergency contact information, to those who are handling logistical support to the emergency response.

If you have not already done so, the AHLA suggests:

On May 5, Alberta Treasury Board and Finance, Tax and Revenue Administration released a special notice regarding the Tourism Levy Act and natural disasters. Because the Fort McMurray wildfire and evacuation is considered a natural disaster:

  • The TRA will waive interest and penalties associated with filing and payment deadlines for all tax returns due from the area on May 3, 2016 and after until further notice;
  • You are required to submit your Alberta tax return and make your payment as soon as you are able; and
  • If you are assessed a penalty and/or interest, you may submit a request for a waiver of penalties and/or interest to the Tax Services Branch of TRA.

Information and updates on the situation and available supports can be found at http://www.alberta.ca/emergency.cfm.

If the AHLA can be of assistance to you now or when your property starts to reopen, please contact Tracy Douglas-Blowers at tdblowers@ahla.ca.


May 9, 2016

Town of Fox Creek Seeks Support For Bylaw Taxing Hotels

With the support of members across the province, the AHLA has been working with hotels in Fox Creek to fight a bylaw that hikes business licence fees by as much as 100,000%. More than 450 AHLA members have already raised over $100,000 to fight this tax.

In late March, the Town of Fox Creek sent a letter to a number of communities around the province asking for their support for the bylaw. Ask your local council whether they have received this request, and how they will be responding.

The Town of Athabasca and the City of Cold Lake have declined to support the bylaw. Other councils have simply accepted the letter for information, and have not taken any further action to date. So far, the AHLA is not aware of any councils that have indicated they support Fox Creek's bylaw, or that they would contribute their taxpayers' revenues to support the Town of Fox Creek.

If you have any questions, would like tips on talking to your councilors or MLA, or wish to contribute to the legal fund, please contact any member of the AHLA's Board of Directors or Tracy Douglas-Blowers at 1.888.436.6112 x 227.


May 4, 2016

Alberta Hotels Respond to Fort McMurray Wildfires

The AHLA is deeply concerned for the residents of Fort McMurray in light of yesterday’s wildfires. Evacuees from Fort McMurray are making their way south, and many people have already arrived in Edmonton and other communities.  It is estimated 18,000 people are in Edmonton or on their way now.  Officials are allowing those who went north for safety yesterday to go south today. That means another 20,000 – 30,000 could come to the city over the next few days.

Our sincere thanks all who took in those fleeing the wildfires last night, including the lodges and camps who sheltered evacuees north of Fort McMurray.

We are currently reaching out to the operators of the 36 hotels in Fort McMurray for an update on their status. Alberta’s hotel community will be called upon to provide evacuees and displaced residents with food and lodging and some simple comforts to get them through a time of great uncertainty.

The AHLA encourages all accommodation providers to:

  • Ensure you extend your very best rates to evacuees and those affected by the wildfires. 
  • Work with guests who may be without identification due to the sudden evacuation.
  • Relax ‘no pets’ policies for evacuees with pets.
  • Remember that guests and staff alike may feel the emotional strain of this event and its consequences.
  • Communicate with your fellow hoteliers to ensure you can assist travellers with accurate information and availability options if your property is full.  Real time availability for properties in communities all over Alberta, including information about pet friendly hotels, is available at www.CheckInCanada.com.

The situation remains fluid, particularly with the hot temperatures and winds expected today.  For up to the minute information on the situation, visit www.alberta.ca/emergency.cfm.  The site includes information on evacuation centres between Fort McMurray and Edmonton.  

Families and individuals who have been evacuated can call the Red Cross with inquiries or to register. The toll-free number is 1-888-350-6070. Registering helps reconnect family members and enables response agencies to mobilize resources.

Edmonton Northlands is a designated reception and registration centre for evacuees.  They have beds and can accommodate RVs and trailers in their parking lots.  They are working with the Red Cross and Alberta SPCA to assist travellers with pets.  You can find out more at www.northlands.com/fort-mcmurray-evacuees/.

The Alberta Veterinary Medical Association has a list of clinics between Fort McMurray and Edmonton that can assist with medical care and boarding of pets at www.albertaanimalhealthsource.ca/content/animal-medical-care-and-boarding-resources-fort-mcmurray-evacuees.

The Red Cross is accepting financial donations to assist evacuees.

Please call the AHLA office at 1-888-436-6112 if you have any questions, or if we can be of assistance as you serve the people who have been forced to leave their homes behind.


April 8, 2016

AHLA Annual Report Now Available

The AHLA's Board of Directors is pleased to release the association's 2015 Annual Report. See below for the full report, or view 2015 at a glance

 

 

You can also contact Gayle Day at 1.888.436.6112 for a printed copy. 


March 29, 2016

Hoteliers Unite to Fight Bylaw 

When the Town of Fox Creek hiked business licence fees for hotels from $75 per year to 4% of their annual room revenue, the AHLA recognized this as a serious threat – not just to hotels in Fox Creek, but for all of our members. 

Hoteliers are coming together to fight this bylaw and have already contributed close to $100,000 to help cover the costs.

We continue to receive contributions to support Fox Creek hoteliers in this fight, and thank all who have contributed to the war chest to date.

The invoice for this legal fund contribution was sent with your property's 2016 membership dues. Any funds not required to fight this action will be refunded to members. Should you have any questions, please contact any member of the AHLA’s Board of Directors or Tracy Douglas-Blowers at 1.888.436.6112 x 227. 


 

March 23, 2016

 
Talk To Your MLA About Minimum Wage

As we face continued slowdown in Alberta’s economy, we need to continue building and fostering relationships with the provincial government. It’s important to connect with all MLAs to educate them on issues that are important to the tourism industry and inform them about the role of the hospitality industry in Alberta.

One issue in particular that requires our attention is minimum wage. In June 2015, following the new government’s announcement of a wage hike to $15 by 2018, the AHLA submitted its position on minimum wage at a consultation with the Honourable Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour.

Let’s keep the conversation going.

The tourism industry is stronger when AHLA members take initiative to deliver a common message to their MLAs. Be sure to talk to your MLA about how Alberta’s minimum wage increase will impact your business.

The AHLA suggests that you:

  1. 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. 
  2. 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). 
  3. Treat them like they are a guest or potential guest, whether you go to them or they come to you,. 
  4. Get to know your MLA & understand what is important to them (and their party).
  5. 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. 
  6. Be respectful even if you don’t agree with their position. 
  7. 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.

Customize this note and email your MLA now.


March 21, 2016

Check In Canada Helps You Take Back Visitors to TravelAlberta.com

Hotels across Alberta have supported Check In Canada to take back their guests since the AHLA project pilot launched in 2014. We appreciate your support for the program and have some exciting progress to report. Because of you, Check In Canada:

  • Now lists over 3,000 properties across Canada, including almost 600 hotels and motels in Alberta;
  • Is the preferred booking engine for Alberta's Visitor Information Centre network;
  • Has partnered with Travel Alberta to power direct bookings on TravelAlberta.com, allowing consumers to shop for accommodation by location and price, then book with you; and,
  • Powers direct bookings on HelloBC.com through a partnership with Destination British Columbia and BC accommodation providers.

Provincial and local marketing organizations are realizing the high costs of using Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), both for themselves and for your business. Check In Canada is now working with many of these organizations to serve up direct bookings to consumers. Your support for Check In Canada is turning the prospect of taking back our guests into a reality. 

Learn more about Check In Canada or contact Jordan McKay at jmckay@checkincanada.com or 1.888.612.2772 for more information.


March 21, 2016

Annual General Meeting

A new NDP government, municipal taxation attempts, and supporting our members withstand this economic downturn – 2015 was a busy year for the AHLA. All members in good standing are invited to join the Board of Directors and President & CEO Dave Kaiser at the AHLA's Annual General Meeting on Sunday, April 17 in Lake Louise for a full accounting of what the AHLA is doing for you. 

If you are unable to attend the AGM, you may appoint someone as your proxy. To do so, please fill out this form, which will allow your proxy to vote and act for you in your stead. The individual identified as proxy should bring the completed form with them to the meeting. 

We look forward to seeing you in Lake Louise!


March 10, 2016

Hotels Found Liable In Security Breach

The hotel involved in the Erin Andrews case were found to share almost half the responsibility with the man accused of stalking her, and will be on the hook for nearly $27 million. 

A recent report on NBC’s Today show investigated how easy it is to gain personal information, such as room numbers, in a hotel. Three of the four hotels visited during their investigative report released this information, no questions asked. 

It's just as important to anticipate criminal invasions of privacy and voyeurism as it is to anticipate break-ins and theft. We encourage you to watch the Today Show video, as well as this filming through a peephole video, with your staff and discuss with them how to handle situations like this at your property.

Be sure to review your safety and security procedures regularly with your staff to prevent these types of crimes. You can also participate in the AHLA's Front Desk Workshop or contact Zainub Siddiqui for more information.


March 9, 2016

Alberta Occupational Health & Safety Officers Tour the Province

The provincial government has announced that Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) officers will tour Alberta over the next three months to inspect stand-alone convenience stores and combined convenience store/gas station operations. 

Although the lodging industry was not mentioned, hotels may be visited or be the subject of future tours. When inspecting workplaces, OHS officers can write tickets to both employers and workers for a number of infractions, as well as write orders and chage employers under OHS legislation. Additionally, if the officers suspect an employment standards issue, they will report it back to Employment Standards for follow-up. 

To show that you care about your employees and guests; reduce employee turnover, equipment and WCB costs; minimize lost time, and to ensure you would satisfy and OHS inspection, the AHLA recommends that you:

With the provincial government taking a greater interest in the well-being of Alberta's workers, it's important for AHLA members to demonstrate that they are responsible, fair, and reputable employers who go above and beyond basic health and safety requirements – even in these challenging economic times. 

 

 


February 3, 2016 

Minister of Tourism and Culture Announces Financial Support for Olds College Flagship Program

The AHLA, Olds College, and the Government of Alberta have collaborated to create a new tourism and hospitality program that will transform hospitality education in Alberta. The AHLA's contribution of $500,000 is an investment in tourism and hospitality, increasing the amount of skilled, educated workers in the industry. We’re very excited about this learning initiative as it allows students to access educational resources from their mobile devices, meaning students can learn anytime from anywhere.

Today, February 3, the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Honourable Ricardo Miranda, announced financial support for the program. The AHLA and the government each contributed $500,000 to develop training videos for students with a smart phone or tablet. 

Click here for a video outlining the program and its many benefits! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


January 28, 2016 

Hoteliers Unite as Cities & Towns Seek New Revenue Streams 

When the Town of Fox Creek hiked business licence fees for hotels from $75 per year to 4% of their annual room revenue, the AHLA recognized this as a serious threat – not just to hotels in Fox Creek, but for all of our members. 

Hoteliers are coming together to fight this bylaw and have already started building a war chest to defend against encroaching municipal fees.

AHLA members have already contributed over $10,000 to help cover the costs of fighting these business licence fees. A special thanks to the members of the Hotel Association of Greater Edmonton, who wrote a letter of support and passed a motion last week to contribute $1000 over and above the individual contributions of Edmonton hotels.

Your contribution will help defeat this bylaw and create a legal precedent that protects all hotels in Alberta. 

The invoice for this legal fund contribution was sent with your property's 2016 membership dues. Any funds not required to fight this action will be refunded to members. Should you have any questions, please contact any member of the AHLA’s Board of Directors or Tracy Douglas-Blowers at 1.888.436.6112 x 227. 


January 25, 2016 

From Front Desk to CEO Suite, New Survey Shows Hotel Jobs Offer a Fast Track to Management 

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) partnered with WageWatch, Inc. to conduct a national survey of hotel pay practices (the “Survey”) and determine the career path of employees who begin their professional path in hotels. This report highlights the success stories of the hotel industry’s employees, who have been provided with significant opportunities for upward mobility and promotions, with no limitation on how far they can go. The survey reveals that throughout the hotel industry, general managers, senior executives and even many CEOs began their careers in hourly, entry-level hotel jobs. This survey shows that they have the ability to create rewarding life-long careers, and they can do it quickly – with most employees becoming eligible for promotion after only one year of employment.


January 15, 2016 

Membership Dues Won't Increase in 2016 

As we all know, the upcoming year will be challenging. Keeping this in mind, there will be no increase to your membership dues for 2016. Membership renewals will be sent to all members this month. If you have any questions about your membership, please contact Heather Janiten, Membership Coordinator, at 780.423.9244.

We look forward to serving you in 2016!


January 6, 2016 

Municipal Business Licence Fees: Hotels Unite to Fight!

The AHLA continues to work with Fox Creek hoteliers to fight the bylaw increasing their business licence fee by as much as 100,000%. This is a serious threat that could affect every hotel, motel, inn, and resort in Alberta.

A recap to one of our biggest issues in 2015: the Town of Fox Creek hiked business licence fees for hotels from $75 per year to 4% of their annual room revenue. Hotels are the only businesses in Fox Creek that have had these fees increased, effectively creating a single industry sales tax. Our lawyers have indicated that we have a strong case that the Town of Fox Creek does not have the authority to impose this fee. Fox Creek hotels have told the Town they will not charge, collect, or remit this fee. 

These properties need the help of all AHLA members to fight this bylaw and the dangerous precedent it creates for hotels in Alberta. Other municipalities are watching what happens in Fox Creek and will make the same cash grab if they believe they have the power to do so.  Be sure to monitor your local council in case they try to enact similar bylaws.

Your Board of Directors believes all hotels, motels, inns, and resorts in Alberta have an interest in fighting this bylaw, and encourages AHLA members to come together and support the legal effort to strike this bylaw. 

Funds not needed to fight this bylaw will be refunded back to members. The invoice for this legal fund contribution is being sent with your property's 2016 membership dues. Should you have any questions about this file or the contribution we are asking for to fight this on behalf of all members, please contact any member of the AHLA’s Board of Directors or Tracy Douglas-Blowers at 1.888.436.6112 x 227.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


January 6, 2016 

The Effect of Falling Oil Prices on Albertan Hotels

 AHLA President and CEO Dave Kaiser spoke to the Edmonton Journal regarding the challenges hotels face as oil prices fall, read the full article here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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