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Hotel industry recovering from recession, facing new problems

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After every recession comes new hotels. That’s what the Chief Operating Officer of Holloway Lodging Felix Seiler says that is the pattern their industry sees.

Seiler gave an update on the hotel industry Friday and says they are seeing occupancy around 60 per cent again. He says that would be around the point that his industry would start to break even.

At it’s peak in 2014 Grande Prairie occupancy rates were hovering around 70 per cent. Fast forward to 2016 and that number is around 40 per cent.

He adds that recovery is really only been this year. Seiler says now in Grande Prairie there are more than 3,000 hotel rooms. More than 1,900 of those rooms were built between 1998 and 2018.

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Seiler says he has also noticed camps in the region present an interesting challenge especially because they can be built in three months.

“You know you’re full because you can be much closer to the action. If something goes south you take it down and you walk away. Some of these camp operators obviously they didn’t do as well either in the last few years.”

Seiler adds they are also dealing with less regulations to build camps. He says locally the camps have been doing better than the hotels overall.

He says technology is also something they are struggling to keep up with. Now one of the most important things to customers is wifi connectivity according to Seiler.

“Even cable is not that important anymore. What’s more important now [is] can I connect my own devices into the T.V. Can I play games on them? And simple things like phones. Phones used to be a revenue centre for us. Now they just cost money because nobody uses them and everybody has a cell phone.”

Seiler also worries about a labour shortage. He says that will be an issue in and around Grande Prairie but also for the hotel industry in general.

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