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April 22, 2015
Canadian Business Travelers Find Hotels Lacking on Important Priorities

New study reveals perceived value of accommodation is chief deciding factor in hotel selection by business travelers

Toronto, ON—Hotels are missing the mark in a couple of key areas, according to a recent study of Canadian business travelers commissioned by Active International Canada. Respondents to the survey suggested their hotel experience could be improved with more free services: reliable Wi-Fi, parking, more "extras" such as newspapers, and either a complimentary or a better breakfast.

Free Wi-Fi an Expectation, Not an Option
Complimentary Wi-Fi is now an expectation amongst all types of business traveler and is the most common suggestion given to improve the hotel experience. In addition, ambience and amenities play a large role in differentiating one hotel from another. One in five travelers surveyed recommended hotels improve their restaurants, undertake renovations or modernizations, or invest in better fitness centers.

"Overall, hotels are doing a good job meeting the needs of Canadian business travelers," says Nikki Stone, vice-president business development, and head of travel at Active International Canada. "Good customer service and friendly, knowledgeable staff were commonly mentioned by the survey respondents when describing positive hotel experiences—while the top reasons for requesting different accommodation typically related to the quality and cleanliness of their room or poor service."

Decentralized Travel Decision Making
The Active International study also reveals that travelers, not companies, most often make business travel decisions, including when to travel, what airline to fly with, which hotel chain to select and the type of hotel room to book. 

Less than 20 per cent of people surveyed said their company has a central travel coordinator who must make all bookings. A large majority place their bookings directly with the hotel through the internet, telephone, or mobile app.

"Decentralization is an important consideration for hotels and airlines when deciding how to allocate sales and promotional budgets to reach key decision-makers," adds Stone. "To be effective, they will need to target individual business travelers, as well as corporate travel departments and organizations."

According to the study, price, room cleanliness and location are all important factors when travelers select a hotel, but not the only criteria travelers consider when making their decision. Loyalty programs, reliable Wi-Fi and online reviews are also important drivers.

Combining Business and Pleasure
Along with the trend to individual decision-making, blurred lines between business and personal travel are the new normal. Two-thirds of those surveyed have added personal days to a business trip and close to half sometimes or usually bring a spouse, friend or relative.

"Taking a personal day while traveling or bringing a friend are appreciated perks companies can encourage their traveling employees to enjoy at little or no cost to the organization," says Stone. "Hotels could also profile this activity by seamlessly integrating a traveler's business and personal stay—and reaping the benefit of extra revenue streams."

As the world changes, so does the business traveler's expectation of their hotel and what they are willing, or unwilling, to pay for. "The power is ultimately in the hands of the traveler," says Stone. "Successful hotels and their banners will pay attention and cater to these traveler's needs."

About the Study
Hotspex Inc. conducted the Business Traveler Study for Active International Canada from March 5-10, 2015. Results are based on 250 online interviews with respondents who traveled overnight in Canada for business at least twice in the past year, and who work for a company with a Canadian office and at least 100 employees worldwide. Results are accurate to +/- 6%, 19 times out of 20.

About Hotspex
Based in Toronto, Canada, Hotspex delivers research-based, strategic recommendations throughout the brand cycle. Their work empowers clients to develop, position and execute ideas, products, services, packaging and communications that truly connect with consumers. Learn more at

About Active International
Active International Canada consults with the Fortune 1000 on ways to optimize their assets, typically excess consumer packaged goods, real estate and capital equipment. As the global leader in corporate trade, Active has successfully helped many of the world's leading brands recover value, reduce costs and increase market share.

April 22, 2015
IACC’s 2015 Copper Skillet Awards go to Australian and Danish Chefs

London, UK—One of the highlights of the 34th IACC-Americas annual conference was the 12th annual gathering of IACC conference centre chefs from around the world to compete for the prestigious culinary award – the Copper Skillet – and the distinction of becoming the IACC Conference Centre Chef of the Year.  For this year’s winners, it proved to be an emotional triumph for Michael Greenlaw (AUSTRALIA) and Trine Thybo Tamussen (DENMARK) who had competed in country and chapter finals, against 82 other competitors to reach this year’s final. Michael and Trine received a rousing and enthusiastic ovation from the audience of IACC members from nine countries.

The competing IACC conference centre chefs included: 

Global Winner - Senior Category

Michael Greenlaw (Australia), Lindenderry at Red Hill

Global Winner - Junior Category

Trine Thybo Tamussen (Denmark), Hotel Koldingfjord

Three judges included Dave Hackett, Executive Chef, Biltmore Hotel Coral Gables; Klaus Mueller, Corporate Chef at Swiss Chalet Fine Foods & Corporate Executive Chef for Haco-Swiss; and Michael Cheng, PhD, CHE, Professor and Director, Food and Beverage Program, Florida International University.

Judging criteria included originality of the creation, presentation, texture, flavour combinations and hygiene standard of the work area.  Chefs were presented with pantry items including fresh produce, grains and other ingredients to use in their preparation.  The mystery basket of proteins included baby octopus, hanger steak, and bream. Vegetable options included: asparagus, Swiss chard, peppers, green beans, tomatoes, pears, mushrooms, shallots, potatoes.  Each chef was given 15 minutes to review the items and plan their dish, and then 30 minutes for the cook-off.  

The judges awarded the Senior Category Copper Skillet to Chef Michael Greenlaw for his creative dish of Filet of Hog Snapper, Seared Scallops, Hearts of Palm, Purple Brussels Sprouts and Asparagus.

Junior category Copper Skillet went to Chef Trine Thybo Tamussen for her creative dish of Soufflé Crusted Beef Striploin with Scallops, Crispy Potato, Mashed Potato, Asparagus and a Duo of Sauces.

Competition organisers, Al Morgan of Ivey Spencer Leadership Centre and Ron Stoddard of Summit Executive Centres commented, "The professionalism of all six finalists this year was incredible. What stood out particularly was how much value our new junior competitors brought to the competition, and also in their participation in the food and beverage workshops at the conference."

IACC’s popular Copper Skillet competition was introduced in 2004 to highlight the artistry and skill of the best chefs from IACC-member conference centres around the world and to honour their contributions to the shared goal of providing an outstanding conference centre experience.

April 08, 2015
A good year for tourism in Montréal in 2014

Conventions, business meetings, and sporting events lead the way

Montreal--Tourism, a big part of the Montréal economy, turned in a great performance in 2014 according to figures compiled by Tourisme Montréal for the period of January to December 2014. Key performance indicators for the year are up, particularly starting in the second quarter.

Key statistics for 2014
-- Montréal is estimated to have welcomed 9.2 million tourists, up 2.2% over 2013.
-- Spending by tourists increased 4.6% in 2014 to stand at $2.7 billion.
-- The average hotel occupancy rate was 71.24%, up 3.32 percentage points from the previous year1.
-- The average room rate was $148.40 compared to $141.48 the year before, a 5.17% increase2.

Higher average occupancy and room rates are partly attributable to the drop in hotel room inventory on the Island of Montréal.

"It's encouraging to see that tourism continued to grow in 2014 after a good year in 2013," said Yves Lalumière, President and CEO of Tourisme Montréal. "A lot of the growth came from business meetings and major conventions, so we owe a vote of thanks to the hard-working convention professionals in Montréal. The sports event market also turned in a good performance, a result of efforts in that regard in recent years."

"Montréal hotel owners saw occupancy rates rise in 2014. This good performance was in large part driven by the synergy between the hotels and Tourisme Montréal," added Eve Paré, President and CEO of the Hotel Association of Greater Montréal.

International travel up 4%
As for international visitors (United States and other countries) entering Canada through Québec border checkpoints,3
-- totals were up 4.0% for January to December;
-- the number of American tourists using some form of transportation other than automobiles to cross the border was up 5.0%; and
-- the increase was 5.9% for tourists from countries other than the United States.

Passenger traffic at Montréal-Trudeau International Airport up 5.2%
Arriving and departing passenger traffic at Montréal-Trudeau International Airport4 between January and December 2014 increased 5.2% in all markets (domestic, transborder, and international).

Cruise ship market up 1.54%
The cruise ship market also performed well again, attracting some 71,000 passengers and crew members to the port last season, an increase of 1.54% over 2013. Montréal continues to position itself as a premier cruise turnaround destination on the St. Lawrence River.

Business tourism drives performance during year
Business travel appears to have been a big part of Montréal's performance in 2014. Tourisme Montréal notes that there were 27 multi-hotel conventions during the year versus 17 the year before, for a total of 55,830 convention-goers. That put shoppers in stores and drew visitors to city attractions. The sales efforts of Tourisme Montréal's business sales team on the convention, business meeting, and sporting event markets generated a little over 333,000 overnight stays in commercial accommodations.

For the full report on tourism in 2014 (in French) from Tourisme Montréal, see

About Tourisme Montréal
Tourisme Montréal is responsible for providing leadership in the concerted efforts of hospitality and promotion in order to position the "Montréal" destination on leisure and business travel markets. It is also responsible for developing Montréal's tourism product in accordance with the ever-changing conditions of the market. For more information, please visit

April 06, 2015
American Express Meetings & Events and North American Meetings Industry Day

American Express Meetings & Events will be supporting the inaugural North American Meetings Industry Day (NAMID) on April 16th by hosting four online educational sessions in a series titled ‘Educate to Elevate' supporting the education and professional development of the industry. The sessions are open to all meeting professionals, as well as anyone else interested in learning more about the profession. Also, American Express Meetings & Events is one of CIC’s Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) Preferred Providers and participants are eligible to receive one CIC credential per session. Below is a breakdown of the sessions for your reference: 

11:30am EST: Global Hotel Developments: The Impact of Thousands of New Meeting Destinations
1:00pm EST: Stand For Your Brand
2:30pm EST
Event Apps 101: Five Things to Consider When Shopping for Event Apps
4:00pm EST: What You Don’t Know Can Be Risky

Participation is free, however, limited to 100 participants per session: