I don’t believe that what was the traditionally busier summer “high season” exists anymore.
That’s not to say that there aren’t specialty destinations and resort areas that have clearly defined “high seasons,” whether in summer or at other times of the year.
Nor am I suggesting that there aren’t client shifts throughout the year where we see definitive peaks and valleys of demand from different market segments.
What I am saying is that for centres that used to see a specific, significant rise in their transient or IT business in the summer, those days are gone, or at least for the foreseeable future.
Time was when we could sit back and wait for the (much) higher rated summer season travellers to start trickling in, starting in the latter part of May, and continuing throughout the summer, until the end of September.
You could count on it, you could have set your watch by it, and as a result, we would confidently turn away or limit lower rated business during that period, because this was the time to generate some significant revenue for the year.
And conferences and major conventions weren’t booking during this period either, usually because it was cost prohibitive, assuming that their delegates didn’t mind holding their conference in the summer in the first place.
Now, you just don’t see those dramatic increases in the transient or IT business in the summer, there are just too many factors preventing Mr and Mrs Smith and their 2.5 children from taking that (perceived to be expensive) vacation in the summer.
You could argue what those factors are, and there are lots of opinions about what is causing the current reductions in travel to Canada; increased international competition, strength of the Canadian dollar, the continued negativity in the US economy, and Canada’s reliance on the US traveller.
Regardless of the reasons, it’s a fact, or at least that is my position.
To further support my position, I can tell you that we have had more city-wide conventions this summer than ever before, and, I know what the average rate was for many of them at the downtown 4 star Hotels, and it certainly doesn’t compare with the traditionally higher transient rates that I referred to earlier.
The other basis for my opinion is the market intelligence that I gather on the street.
I am in and out of the downtown Hotels every day, and I always stop and talk to the front staff, the bellmen and doormen in particular, and I ask them how it’s going, and what their telling me just reinforces my argument.
They are very clear that they are NOT seeing the levels of business in the summer that they used to, and specifically not from what was that summer leisure traveller that I alluded to earlier. It just isn’t happening.
The bell curve just isn’t as dramatic anymore. Sure, there is still more business, overall, outside of the colder late-fall and winter months, than there is when the climate is perceived to be better in the Spring and Summer, but the curve just doesn’t have that mid-year spike that it used to.
It’s just another reason that I think Hoteliers need to re-think their business models and adapt to the changing demands of the market.