On September 20 and 21, the AHLA hosted our first in-person Ascend conference at Edmonton’s JW Marriott ICE District. After 18 months of isolation and uncertainty, it was invigorating to gather with members and partners for two days of learning and connection.

With a long road to recovery ahead, attendees gained insight into the forecast for our industry and networked with other hoteliers. By closely following Alberta’s Restrictions Exemption Program (REP) on the first day of its implementation, the AHLA and its members were industry leaders in showing that in-person events can resume in a safe (and fun!) environment. The ability to hold events like this will be a key indicator of success for hotels as our industry recovers and rebuilds.

Attendees had the opportunity to gain market intelligence from several hotel industry, political, and real estate experts:

  • Glenn Haussman, host of the No Vacancy podcast, encouraged innovation and forward thinking in a number of areas:
    • Considering new solutions for fostering, hiring, and retaining talent.
    • Leveraging technology to automate tasks like bartending and cleaning.
    • Focusing on the value-added offerings that customers really
  • David Ferguson, Director of CBRE Hotels Valuation and Advisory Services Group, reported on industry trends, how economic activity is impacting hoteliers, and the need for hotels to avoid a race to the bottom by cutting rates. The Alberta Accommodation Outlook is now available to help you plan for the coming year.
  • David Goldstein, CEO of Travel Alberta, shared Travel Alberta’s renewed focus on destination management and tourism, revenue generation goals for hotels and other tourism businesses, and their plans for contributing to the recovery of Alberta’s tourism industry.
  • Alana Baker, Vice President of Policy & Public Affairs at the Hotel Association of Canada, reviewed the previous day’s federal election and discussed the government’s response to the call for support from the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses. She highlighted the need for hotels to work together for effective advocacy now more than ever.
  • Journalist Paul McLoughlin shared his insights on Alberta’s turbulent political environment, at the very moment the government announced a cabinet shuffle.

AHLA President and CEO Dave Kaiser, capped off the event by sharing how the AHLA is responding to the trends our members are facing. We will continue to serve our members by:

 “Congratulations on putting together such a wonderful AHLA conference. You and your staff accomplished something quite incredible within all of the constraints. I commend all of your members for the resiliency they continue to demonstrate during the pandemic.  Your team does so much for our province and I thank you for that. I wish nothing but the best for all of your Members. The health of the hotel and lodging industry is a key indicator for the overall health of Alberta.”

– Len Rhodes, AGLC

We want to thank our incredible speakers and sponsors—without them, this event would not have been possible. We also want to recognize the entire team at the JW Marriott Edmonton ICE District for hosting us this year, and all our attendees for making Ascend a success!