Holiday Inn adds on

Holiday Inn Worldwide is looking to expand its share of the Canadian market by adding as many as seven new hotels before the end of the year.As part of its expansion plans, the middle-of-the-road hotelier plans to introduce to Canada its...

Holiday Inn Worldwide is looking to expand its share of the Canadian market by adding as many as seven new hotels before the end of the year.

As part of its expansion plans, the middle-of-the-road hotelier plans to introduce to Canada its economy Holiday Inn Express brand, which has performed successfully in the u.s. for a number of years.

While the supply of hotel rooms in Canada currently outstrips demand – occupancy rates are running at 57% according to the Hotel Association of Canada – Patrick Field, Holiday Inn’s regional director of marketing for Canada, believes that an aggressive marketing effort will enable the firm to steal market share from rival middle-of-the-road chains such as Ramada Hotel, Howard Johnson and Best Western.

Field notes that Holiday Inn does not plan to build new hotels. Rather, it hopes to convince existing hotels to adopt the Holiday Inn banner.

As in the U.S., Holiday Inn Express in Canada will be targetted at businesspeople and families who are traveling on a budget but still prefer to stay in a hotel they trust.

Atlanta-based Holiday Inn operates 53 hotels in eight provinces. The hotels are spread among 11 independent franchise holders.

A key factor in the Atlanta-based firm’s new market push in Canada was the February appointment of Field to head up its newly-formed national marketing department.

For the past 17 years, Field has been employed by Commonwealth Hospitality, a Toronto-based hotel management firm which controls 17 Holiday Inn franchises in Canada. Most recently, he was director of marketing with responsibility for Holiday Inn.

Concurrent with the hiring of Field, whose offices are located in the Holiday Inn Crown Plaza – Toronto Airport, Holiday Inn has also opened a national sales office and hired two salespeople to pursue new business accounts.

‘What we are trying to do now is build the brand in Canada,’ Field says.

He says, in the past, Holiday Inn’s Canadian marketing was handled by the independent franchises, with the predictable result that the hotel brand was not represented to consumers as effectively as it might be.

In order to bring more focus to the brand, the company has rolled its Canadian marketing function into its u.s. operations and given Field the responsibility of representing the Canadian market as a whole.

Field says one of his primary goals is to find ways the Canadian marketing program can ride on that of its u.s. counterpart.

‘I hope to be able to join in with a lot of the u.s. programs, so we are able to stretch the Canadian dollar,’ he says.

Additionally, Field, who is a member of the board of directors of Experience Canada, an association of travel advertisers dedicated to promoting Canadian tourism, says he intends to focus on developing joint marketing programs with other advertisers in the travel industry.

‘I’m a strong believer in relationship marketing,’ he says.

‘I feel that with advertising dollars shrinking, major travel advertisers are going to have to get together when they have a common audience.’

Holiday Inn’s first marketing activity under Field is a consumer magazine ad campaign, created by Promanad Communications of Toronto, that began this month and runs until July.

The company is working on a new campaign that will launch in the fall.