Especially strong has been the broad midmarket with its mix of local or Canadian brands (Sandman Hotels, Canad Inns), brands imported from U.S.-based companies (Hampton by Hilton, Best Western, Four Points by Sheraton, Fairfield Inn by Marriott) and independents (Queen Bee Hotel, Victoria Inn).
U.S.-based brands have been expanding in Winnipeg at a steady clip because they view the Canadian heartland generally as fertile ground for development. Canada, in fact, is often the first step in their larger international expansion plans, given its proximity to the U.S. and the two countries’ shared cultural values.
Frequency programs’ broad appeal
Most of the midmarket brands are based on a franchise model. In some cases, Canadian developers have stepped forward to commit to a master franchise agreement. Attractive to the Canadian market as well are the U.S. brands’ well-established frequent guest programs, including Hilton HHonors, Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest. Consumers want to be able to collect their loyalty points with the intention of redeeming them for free stays at the brands’ wide global distribution, including sought-after resort destinations “south of the border” in the U.S.
Parsippany, N.J.-based Wyndham Hotel Group is one U.S.-based company growing strategically in Winnipeg as well as the rest of Canada. With numerous franchise brands in its portfolio, Wyndham is already represented in the greater Winnipeg market with the 89-room Days Inn & Suites Winnipeg Airport, the 75-room Travelodge Winnipeg East, the 60-room Super 8 Winnipeg East and the 43-room Howard Johnson Express Inn Winnipeg West.
In addition, Wyndham has in the market a 72-room Winnipeg Thriftlodge, a sister brand to Travelodge, though one only available in Canada. Howard Johnson Express, meanwhile, is a tier of the Howard Johnson brand designed for smaller markets.
Similar amenity profile
By and large, the Wyndham brands in Winnipeg offer the same amenities and standards available in their hotels elsewhere in North America. These include complimentary breakfast, complimentary Wi-Fi, 24-hour fitness center, 24-hour business center and, in the case of the Days Inn & Suites, complimentary shuttle service to and from the airport.
Among the Wyndham brands currently in Winnipeg, Travelodge has the largest distribution in Canada. With more than 100 properties open nationwide, the brand is the third-largest hotel chain in the country.
Looking to the future, more Wyndham brands are likely to join the current lineup in Winnipeg. One, in fact, is apt to be Microtel Inns & Suites. In 2011, Wyndham negotiated a sweeping deal with MasterBUILT Hotels Ltd., under which MasterBUILT would construct 75 Microtel hotels across Canada within 25 years. One or more are likely to be in Winnipeg. To date, the project is on track with 40 Microtels scheduled to debut by 2018.
Construction pipeline data from Lodging Econometrics confirms Winnipeg’s steady growth pattern. Two projects are currently in the pipeline, accounting for 305 rooms. One is upscale, the other upper midscale. One is in the final stages of construction, the other scheduled to start in the next 12 months.