Hotels around Alberta now have more data and resources to help manage today’s economic challenges, following the AHLA’s first annual Ascend conference for industry leaders on September 21 and 22.

Held virtually this year, attendees heard from top tourism, real estate, and financial advisors in two jam-packed days that included:

  • Energy sector investment expert Josef Schachter sharing an in-depth analysis into when Alberta boom days will come again. Many of us were relieved to hear that it may happen sooner than we thought.
  • David Ferguson & Brian Stanford from CBRE Hotels Valuation and Advisory Services Group giving us a glimpse into the recovery of the Alberta accommodation industry.
  • Shaun Jones (Altus Group), Raymond Swonek (GEF Seniors Housing), and Lynda Cuppens (Ministry of Seniors & Housing) talking about converting hotels into affordable housing (something that 33% of poll respondents said they were considering).
  • Shaun Brennan (Enmax Energy), Larry Dykstra (Gas Energy Alberta), and Grant Ostir (Western Financial Group Insurance Solutions explaining how buying together can help hotels better manage their costs. To find out more about any of these programs, contact the AHLA at
  • Chris Heseltine, Shelley Grollmuss, and Karen Soyka sharing more details about Travel Alberta’s re(Bound) Strategy to rebuild the tourism industry.
  • Susie Grynol, President & CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada (HAC), updating hotels about HAC’s advocacy efforts with the federal government to ensure that the hotel industry is not left behind during the COVID-19 recovery period.

Ascend concluded with AHLA President & CEO Dave Kaiser talking about what the AHLA will be doing for hotels over the coming months in the areas of:

  • Advocacy for COVID-19 support and labour legislation changes,
  • Changes to the AHLA’s membership model to ensure membership is fair and affordable, and to ensure that the AHLA can continue to deliver the advocacy, programs, and resources that members need, and
  • Facilitating opportunities for hotels to convert into affordable housing.

Chris Barr, Chair of the AHLA’s Board of Directors, thought the conference was a great success. “Although Ascend was virtual this year, it was great to see almost 100 participants join us to gather insight into our industry and economic situation. Although it’s not all good news, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you to all who joined us and to the AHLA for bringing industry together once again during this difficult time.”

The AHLA would like to thank all of the speakers and sponsors who made Ascend possible. Please remember to check out the Ascend virtual trade show for the next couple of weeks!

Attendees will receive links to the videos from each session soon, and we’ll be sharing session videos with all members over the coming months.

Key Links:

Ascend Virtual Trade Show (open until October 6, 2020)

Ascend Speakers

Ascend Sponsors & Partners

What the AHLA is Doing for Hotels