The news hit the meetings industry like a bomb last week: Marriott Hotels and the B.C. Investment Management Corp. made public plans for the American hospitality giant to buy Delta Hotels & Resorts.
Still subject to approval by regulators until April 1st of this year, there was little doubt in anyone's mind at the CSAE Tête-à-Tête Show in Ottawa: the sale, most said, will go through.
Some of the show attendees I spoke with were saddened to see the "last true, pan-Canadian hotel brand" be bought out by a large American concern. They had wanted Delta succeed on its own, offering an alternative to the big global brands, especially after Delta's hard-fought battle to re-brand and upgrade its facilities and services across its 38 properties. Others felt that it was inevitable, "hotel management is really all about real estate these days," observed an association planner.
Some of the Delta sales reps I spoke with were quietly welcoming the news, especially those who have sales responsibilities in the US. "No one knows what a Delta is in the US. They think we're part of the airline! This at least will give us credibility," declared one rep, clearly delighted at the opportunities this would also present to her professionally.
A seasoned site selection specialist heartily welcomed the announcement. She said she hopes that Marriott ownership will mean Delta will apply Marriott's rules about paying commission only to planners who have gone through Marriott's training and qualification program.
Officially both Marriott and Delta sales leaders say it's "business as usual" until April. And even then, they say, Marriott likely will keep Delta as a stand-alone brand.
Time will tell how Canadian meeting professionals will be affected by the sale. What are your thoughts, Eventprofs?