Historic flood taking its toll on hotel occupancy rates in Calgary's core

ditulis oleh : Jomblo Terhormat 25 Juli 2013
The hotels aren’t full of water — but they’re hardly flooded with guests either.

Less than a week to go before the Calgary Stampede rises like a corn dog-fed Phoenix from the ruins of the city’s worst river disaster ever, and it seems the only thing missing will be guests from out of town.
The Stampede grounds are on a fast track to being repaired, ticket sales for what’s hoped to be the driest outdoor show on earth are strong, and all indications point to a city aching to let loose in relieved celebration.
Never mind the Calgary Stampede: This one is going to be Calgary’s Stampede.
The problem is, it seems only Calgarians know it so far.
“Obviously, the situation has changed the visitor dynamic, in that some people are a little more cautious about travelling here or have changed their travel plans,” said Joseph Clohessy, general manager of the Calgary Marriott Hotel.
Days before the Bow and Elbow decided to do their best impression of the Nile Delta, hotels in downtown Calgary were filling up fast in anticipation of the Stampede’s 101st anniversary show, starting July 5.
This time last year, as tourists flocked to town for the big Stampede centennial, hotel owners were turning a love of the Wild West into wild profits, with prices of up to $600 a room at downtown’s top inns.
Even at that price, most hotels were packed like the dance floor at Cowboys — and there were strong hopes this year would be almost as good.
The flood sure took care of that dream.
With mere days to go before Stampede, downtown rooms are not only readily available, those trying to sell the beds have been forced to slash prices and offer incentives to nervous guests, including no-fee cancellation insurance.
Hotel Le Germain, for example, is listing its best rooms for $359 a night, down from the $736-per-night the exclusive hotel expected to charge on what was supposed to be their busiest week of the year.
The Hyatt Regency, another swank inn right in the core, has dropped its room price from $590 to $314, while Expedia.ca also shows the normally packed Palliser has dropped rates from $484 a night to $299.
It’s a telling sign of some very soggy times that those hotels that are hardest to book in Calgary that first weekend of Stampede are all far from the flood zone, including Hotel Blackfoot and Coast Plaza, both listed as limited or no vacancy online.

Clohessy uses words like “soft” when describing the Stampede weekend outlook so far, which is hotel-speak for not nearly busy enough.
But optimism is the name of the game when you rent rooms, and the former Calgary Hotel Association chairman says a soft opening weekend could easily turn around, given the right publicity.
“Come Thursday and Friday, once the state of emergency is lifted, it will change the dynamic and send a different message to the world,” said Clohessy.
Tourism Calgary is planning an advertising blitz this week to combat negative perceptions the news coverage has wrought — but it’s going to be Calgarians themselves who help the city rise above the flood.
That’s the belief of Cindy Ady, the former provincial Tourism minister who now runs the show at Tourism Calgary.
Slow hotel business for Stampede is a certain sign of the flood’s impact, but Ady says it will be the Stampede itself which shows the world Calgary has bounced right back to normal.
“How do you let people know? You go from crisis to recovery, and one of the beauties of Stampede is it gives you that opportunity,” said Ady.
“We need the Stampede.”
The media coverage of what’s expected to be Calgary’s biggest citizen celebration since the Red Mile is the key, she says — and that will show the country how quickly we’ve gone from catastrophe to celebration.
“Everyone said the 100th was the big one, but I think the 101st Stampede is going to really show the character of Calgary.”

Source : http://www.calgarysun.com/2013/07/01/historic-flood-taking-its-toll-on-hotel-occupancy-rates-in-calgarys-core

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