OCTOBER 15, 1979
Hospitality: Past, Present and Future
AN ADDRESS BY J. K. Dakin, EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT, CP AIR
JOINT MEETING The Canadian Club of Toronto and The Empire Club of Canada
CHAIRMAN E. G. Burton, President, The Canadian Club of Toronto
The meeting was opened by Mr. Burton, who saluted The Royal York Hotel as follows:
Ode of Sorts to The Royal York Hotel On the Occasion of its Fiftieth Anniversary
Oh Royal York, oh granite inn
What feasts our memories share!
Our clubs unite, as kith and kin -
The Empire, and Canadian -
To speak your praise with gratitude
In verse of greatest latitude.
In twenty-nine, when you were new
And tall--the tallest yet
Within the Empire (sun n'er set),
You lured the club red, white and blue
With service at a clip
That nowadays ... just pays the tip!
Oh Royal York, oh host the most,
All the way from Neale to Burton ...
McKinnon. Cardy. CP Hotels boast
A retinue able, of that we're certain -
With twenty-eight hundred to sleep in the house, and
Meals to prepare for no less than ten thousand!
Oh Royal York, you call the roll
Of monarchs, stars and statesmen.
The Royal Standard's flown your pole;
Gable's been here . . . so's Bergen.
Lemmon, Liberace, Hope and Davis,
Crawford ... Englebert Humperdinck ... saints save us!
When toasts are quaffed, this is the place,
With thirteen bars to raise them.
When words are preached with ease and grace,
A score and eight rooms praise them.
When Grey Cup comes, the twain do meet
Within your stripped-down lobby,
As East meets West, the sports to treat -
Football's a risky hobby.
Out on the field, the players choose
To gain their yards with glory.
Within these walls, all hell breaks loose,
But that's another story!
Whate'er the game, the house rule's propriety,
And guests must remain in a state of sobriety!
Oh Royal York, you've met our need
When shelter must be given
To refugees from fire and flood,
And wintry snows--hard-driven.
For fifty years your reign has been
A time of grace and favour.
It is our hope, our toast to you:
That you go on ... forever!
Mr. Burton, distinguished head table guests and ladies and gentlemen: In the division of labour for this joint meeting two assignments have fallen to me. They are to propose a toast to The Royal York Hotel and to introduce the man who will respond on its behalf.
The introduction comes first. J. Kenneth Dakin is Executive Vice-President of Canadian Pacific Air Lines. I recall with amusement my own first exposure to CP Air. Shortly after finishing university and beginning my career a senior officer of our firm, who fancied himself a gourmet, asked me to accompany him to Regina. I was instructed to purchase two first class tickets. Checking the airline schedules I found that only Canada's other national airline flew directly to Regina, so I confirmed two seats on one of its flights.
My superior was horrified. Was I not aware, he asked, that CP Air's first class service included the best cheese tray of any airline in the world? I was sent back to the travel agent to amend the reservation. As a result we took a CP Air dinner flight to Winnipeg, collected our luggage, then changed planes to a regional carrier to get from there to Regina.
The experience is a small example of how attention to detail has established CP Air's reputation for fine service and has convinced thousands of businessmen and women to travel with CP Air whenever and wherever possible.
As Executive Vice-President of CP Air Ken Dakin is the man responsible daily for hundreds of small and large details in such areas as marketing, sales and service, technical services and flight operations. He is a busy man who has worked his way through the ranks of the company which he joined almost thirty years ago.
It is an honour to both the Canadian Club and the Empire Club that Canadian Pacific Limited has chosen an individual of Mr. Dakin's stature and experience within the group of companies to represent them in responding to the anniversary toast today. Mr. Dakin, we welcome you here this afternoon from Vancouver and we are looking forward to hearing from you shortly.
Now if I may turn briefly to the toast.
The sarcastic George Bernard Shaw once observed that "The great advantage of a hotel is that it is a refuge from home life."
I doubt that many members of the Empire Club or the Canadian Club come to weekly luncheon meetings in this hotel seeking refuge from their home lives, but we do come seeking a respite from the work and concerns of our everyday professional lives and to escape briefly into the varied worlds of the prominent men and women who come to address us.
Over the years the members of our two clubs have been able to participate in parliaments and legislatures around the world through visitors such as Prime Ministers Lloyd George, Churchill, MacMillan and Callaghan from the United Kingdom, Premier Meir from Israel, Presidents Taft and Nixon from the United States, Prime Minister Gandhi from India, Chancellor Erhard from Germany and, without naming them all, every Canadian Prime Minister to serve in this century.
We have travelled to the jungles of Samoa with Margaret Mead and to the jungles of the mind with Wilder Penfield; we have moved onto the battlefield with Montgomery and Mountbatten; and we have studied sculpture with Henry Moore, painting with A. Y. Jackson, literature with Margaret Atwood and humour with Stephen Leacock.
We have welcomed to our podium labour leaders such as Samuel Gompers, athletes such as Gene Tunney, bankers such as David Rockefeller and inventors such as Alexander Graham Bell. We have also been honoured to host such members of the Royal Family as the Duke of Windsor, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and Prince Philip.
People and institutions grow together through shared experiences. Hosting this parade of prominent individuals, along with literally thousands of others, has been a shared undertaking of the Canadian Club or the Empire Club, co-operating in each case with the management and staff of our mutual club house, The Royal York Hotel.
Our relationships have been long ones, in the case of both the Canadian Club and the Empire Club all fifty years of the Royal York's existence. When the decision to pay an extra ten cents per meal to come to this hotel was made, the President of the Canadian Club was Mr. R.O. Daly, who is present at our head table today, and I ask you to give him a special welcome.
The occasion of the Royal York's fiftieth anniversary is one that members of our two clubs approach with enthusiasm and sentimentality because we very much share the spirit of the day with representatives of Canadian Pacific and The Royal York Hotel.
The charming facilities of this hotel, its friendly staff and its understanding management have become an integral part of the traditions of our two clubs. The Royal York has become as much a part of our being as has the Gardens to the Toronto Maple Leafs, 10 Downing Street to Prime Ministers in Britain or Carnegie Hall to the New York Symphony.
During the long period of our association I have heard only one criticism of this hotel, and admittedly it has been a repeated one--it is that frequently the coffee is so strong that members are unable to sleep during Presidents' long-winded introductions of speakers. Lest guests here today make the same complaint and relate it to this toast I will conclude by reading to you a letter sent in 1929, fifty years ago, to B. A. Neale, Manager, The Royal York Hotel.
It affords me great pleasure, on behalf of the Executive and Members of the Empire Club, in assuring you that we could not wish any better service in every respect ... I would like you to convey to the assistant manager, head waiter and waiters, our great appreciation of the cooperation they gave us, and trust that our relationship will be as amicable in the future.
(Signed) E.M. Morris Secretary
The Empire Club of Canada
I am sure that members of both clubs that join here today to salute the anniversary of this great hotel will agree that Mr. Morris's trust was well placed. Our relations have been constantly amicable for the fifty years since he wrote that letter and, undoubtedly, they will continue to flourish in the years ahead.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that I ask you to rise and join with me in drinking a toast to The Royal York Hotel.
Ladies and gentlemen, The Royal York Hotel.
Ladies and gentlemen: it is a great honour, indeed, to be representing Canadian Pacific's Junior Service, CPAir, in responding to the toast to the flagship of Canadian Pacific Hotels, The Royal York Hotel, on the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary. Fifty years ago, you would have heard the words: "Now in the year of grace 1929, The Royal York opens its doors to cater ... to those who come to sojourn with us, to provide the hospitality and good cheer for which Toronto has ever been noted and to entertain on ... a generous scale all those who enter its portals." The history of Canadian Pacific Hotels Limited is inextricably tied to the history of the Canadian Pacific! Much has been written on the Canadian Pacific--there is much to write about! Next year, on October 21st, the one hundredth anniversary will occur of the signing of the contract between the Canadian Pacific Syndicate, headed by Lord Mount Stephen, the first President of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and the government of the day, led by Sir John A. Macdonald. In a year and a half, on February 17, 1981, the one-hundredth anniversary will be marked of the incorporation of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.
The actual construction and initial operation of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company fell on the extremely competent shoulders of Sir William C. Van Horne. It was within one year of the date (November 7, 1885) when the last spike was struck at Craigellachie, signifying completion of the transcontinental railway line between Montreal and Vancouver, that the company entered the hotel business by opening the Mount Stephen House at Field, B.C.
Three other small dining facilities also were established in the British Columbia Rockies, all designed primarily to deal with the problem of the railway grade between Hector and Field which was the steepest ever regularly operated by a standard gauge railway. This grade was just too steep to justify operating heavy dining cars over this section of the transcontinental route.
Have you been in Banff National Park, overlooking the valley of the Bow River, surrounded by the towering magnificence of the Rockies, the blue skies in between with flecks of white clouds twisting past on the jet stream? It was here that Sir William Van Horne said, "Since we cannot export the scenery, we shall have to import the tourists."
Thus, in 1887, the Banff Springs Hotel was opened to meet Sir William's objective of importing tourists to this part of Canada. This emphasis on tourism has been a significant factor in the marketing strategies of the Canadian Pacific Hotel System ever since.
In addition to paying tribute to the imagination, spirit and wisdom of those people who laid the cornerstone for the Canadian Pacific of today, and whose foresight permits us to participate in this Royal Jubilee celebration, I want to pay tribute to all those individuals who, as members of the Canadian Pacific family of employees, over the years have provided and maintained a standard of service for the guests at The Royal York Hotel which has been appropriate for the Empire's finest hotel.
There is a history behind The Royal York Hotel which is intriguing. Here, on this site, prior to the establishment of the Royal York, there was a tradition of hotel excellence which went back for a number of years. On August 27, 1793, the Lieutenant Governor, Colonel John Graves Simcoe, in honour of the Duke of York's military success in Flanders, named the new capital of Upper Canada "York," and periodically referred to it as "our Royal Town of York." On March 6, 1834, the Town of York became the City of Toronto, regaining its Indian name, meaning "place of meeting." In 1862, buildings on Front Street, previously occupied by Knox College, a Presbyterian Church of Canada divinity school, were remodelled and the Queen's Hotel was established.
Now, the Queen's was the first hotel in Toronto to have hot air furnaces, rooms with baths, passenger elevators and a business telephone. Due in a large part to the progressive management of the Queen's, it reigned supreme as the hotel par excellence of Toronto for many years. Nathaniel Benson, a Toronto journalist, wrote: "I well remember dining at the gracious and restful Queen's Hotel with a rich young American businessman. He assured me that there were no such slow-paced dinners, such wine cellars, such veteran servitors or red velvet comfort anywhere else on the continent."
It was in 1928 that the wreckers began their attack on the Queen's Hotel to make way for the construction of the Royal York Hotel. In less than two years, the Royal York was completed. On June 11, 1929, Sir Edward Beatty, Chairman and President of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, and its directors were honoured at a luncheon tendered by the Board of Trade of the City of Toronto on the occasion of the opening of The Royal York Hotel by Lord Willingdon, former Governor General of Canada. Twelve hundred and eighty-five guests sat down to a sumptuous meal. Today, fifty years later, we are honoured to have with us some of the guests who were present at that luncheon.
1929! 1929 was not really the ideal time to open a new twelve-hundred room hotel. Some of you may remember that 1929 opened in the United States as the era of a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage. Prosperity was beautiful. The formula? Calvin Coolidge presented it: "The chief business of the American people is business." Twenty-seven million cars were on the road. Sales of radios soared from $60 million in 1922 to nearly $843 million in 1929. Stock in the Radio Corporation of America rose from a low of $85 in 1928 to a high of $549 a year later, as one and onehalf million Americans became stockholders.
In Canada, Hudson Bay hamburger was selling for sixteen cents a pound. You could purchase a new four-door Plymouth sedan for $890.
Flying records were being established and broken almost every day. On June 4, 1929, Canadian Pacific launched air express service between Toronto and Ottawa using National Air Transport aircraft. Canadian Pacific Steamships added Honolulu to its transPacific operation and the Graf Zeppelin arrived in San Francisco after a sixty-seven hour flight from Tokyo.
On September 11th, the Royal Commission on Broadcasting recommended the formation of a government-controlled radio network, paving the way for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
On October 29th, the New York stock market crashed.
On November 29th, Admiral Richard E. Byrd successfully completed his flight over the South Pole.
The end of the year 1929 marked the end of North America's speculative economic orgy, and Canada and the United States entered the Great Depression. No hotels were added to Canadian Pacific's hotel chain from the early 1930s to the 1960s, but additions and improvements to the existing properties continued. The contribution of The Royal York Hotel to the success of the Canadian Pacific Hotel System was well recognized by the expansion, improvements, and facelifting programs which have been undertaken over the intervening years. Today, the dowager queen of Toronto's hotels is, indeed, in good shape to kick up her heels--with a certain stately decorum, of course--on her fiftieth birthday.
I must confess that I have always been a little puzzled about hotels. Now, unquestionably, hotel people may have similar feelings about the way an airline operates. However, in my travels to many countries in various parts of the globe, I have come across situations to which Yul Brynner would refer as "puzzlements."
For example, why is it that you are called a "guest" at hotels where you are charged $40.00 to $50.00 a day?
Do you know that the manufacturers of twenty-five watt light bulbs are kept in business by hotels?
Why is it that you rarely see a bellhop hop?
And those paper strips placed across toilet seats with signed declarations from the management attesting to the complete facility being "sanitized to your satisfaction." I can see the team coming in, all wearing masks, spray guns at the ready, the signal--ready--aim--fire. After three minutes and ten seconds, a customer service inspector arrives, in white smock, white cotton gloves, while the sanitation crew waits apprehensively. He checks, gives a brief nod, and walks from the room, a signal that the inspection has been satisfactory. I imagine that's how it works.
Isn't it a fact: You pull up to the main hotel entrance, get out of your car; your driver offloads two large suitcases and your briefcase, and the doorman always asks, "Are you checking in, Sir?" Where else could you be going?
Who designed the shelves over the toilet seat, so that when you're groping around, something invariably drops in?
Then there's the maid who knocks on the door, opens it in four seconds or less, looks at you and says, "Oh, sorry," and goes. Knocking on doors used to mean "May I come in?" In hotels, it means "Coming, ready or not."
Well, all hotels are not the same, of course. Something to watch in some of them is adequate tipping. I heard of a case where a bellman, assigned a guest's car for parking, considered his tip inadequate. So he, as was the custom in such cases, drove the car to the parking lot, but with the emergency brake on, and while travelling steadily forward at 30 m.p.h. all the way!
Now, in Canadian Pacific hotels, none of these situations can or will occur. These stories do emphasize the point that the staff and management of a hotel are responsible for customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction. The atmosphere depends upon the attentiveness of the staff. Talking of atmosphere--have you ever experienced anything comparable to the atmosphere created at the famous tea ritual in Canadian Pacific's Empress Hotel in Victoria? I mean, even in England? Incidentally, it is true that they may say "lift" instead of elevator, but it's just not true that they all own brollies, have bulldogs, fly Union Jacks, and have never heard of Guy Lafleur.
The Royal York has been designed to meet that peculiar need within people--North Americans, in particular--which has become a national or, perhaps, international pastime--the Convention. It is unfortunate that we have been unable to persuade our American cousins that they should cancel or amend the legislation which was developed several years ago to keep United States' conventioners at home. The problem of the current excess of Canadian visitors to the United States, compared to the number of United States visitors to Canada, would be ameliorated considerably if a change in this legislation were made.
In addition to playing a role in the social, business and convention lives of the communities it serves, the Canadian Pacific Hotel System has provided tourists, both within Canada and from other countries around the world, with an incomparable resort environment which has become known and in demand throughout the world. It is only natural in an industry--tourism--which is critically dependent on both air transport and facilities, that the two elements of the Canadian Pacific family, airlines and hotels, which both pride themselves on providing superior standards of service, should join together in the development of the opportunities available in tourism to and within Canada.
Tourism is big business in this country. I read reports that the Toronto hotel industry is on its way to a record year in 1979. Downtown Montreal hotel occupancy rates in September are reported to be in excess of eighty per cent. Tourism includes and benefits all elements that combine to form the tourist's "experience." It involves air, bus, car rental, cruise, taxi and municipal transportation systems, purchases made at retail outlets, including stores, restaurant and food services, all forms of recreation and entertainment and, of course, local provincial and federal taxes. Tourism pervades our whole life style. It generates income in Canada of over eleven billion dollars, provides over one million jobs, is Canada's sixth largest earner of foreign exchange, and is recognized as the world's fastest growing industry.
But, surely, the true impact of tourism is not simply economic, but human, social, political, cultural and educational. Tourism's role is bringing people and nations together in a vital contribution to the enrichment of all peoples. I believe that Canadians travelling within Canada, resulting in Canadians better informed on many parts of Canada, will do much to develop a Canadian sense of purpose, with full recognition of differences, but acceptance of one collectivity.
Ontario is the key tourism province. Its 8.6 million residents account for fifty-two per cent of Canada's travel revenues and expenditures. In the first six months of this year, more visitors from the United States and other countries visited Ontario than the rest of Canada combined. It is interesting to note that, in these first six months, United States visitors to Canada, staying one or more nights, actually declined compared to the same period in 1978. However, visitors from other countries increased sufficiently to provide for a net increase of visitors over the six-month period. Net increases are reported for the provinces of Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia.
Within North America, more people are travelling domestically and increasing numbers are taking two or more vacations each year. Certainly, in Canada, the devalued dollar is quite a persuasive factor in having Canadians spend their vacations within Canada, as well as making it a great bargain for foreign tourists.
Tourism is critically dependent on air transport, and air transport is completely dependent on aviation fuel. Shortages of supply, due to controlled production by producing nations and planned limitations on increases of oil imports, combined with soaring fuel prices resulting in higher transportation fares, can have a depressing effect on tourism.
Currently, fuel costs are escalating rapidly for all modes of commercial transportation. The necessity for airlines, cruise lines and bus lines to adjust their prices to offset these increases in the cost of energy is generally recognized. Certainly, within the short term, travel will tend to move from the private automobile to mass modes of transportation. En route motor hotels, catering to the needs of the automobile traveller, as opposed to hotel facilities within metropolitan areas which enjoy higher rates and occupancy levels, could face economic problems. On the other hand, car rental agencies' activities will increase due to the reduced use of the private automobile.
Airlines are making substantial progress in reducing fuel consumption on the basis of passenger miles flown. Specific fuel conservation measures, combined with the feature of larger aircraft carrying more passengers, are reflected in the fact that the air segment of the total tourism package--the total cost to the tourist of travel, lodging, food, entertainment and transportation--is the only one which has dropped in price in real terms. Airline efforts to improve efficiency and productivity will continue with bigger, more fuel-efficient aircraft, but the other elements of the total tour package--lodging, food and entertainment, must assist equally in keeping down their share of price increases on the total tourism package.
Today, we are honouring the 50th anniversary of The Royal York Hotel which, itself, has, is, and will be playing a major role in tourism development. Let's just sit back for a few moments and project our imagination in what, admittedly, is a flight of fancy, to the year 2029, the one hundredth anniversary of The Royal York Hotel.
First, by 2029, population stability will be achieved. Zero population growth will be a fact. Women will be truly emancipated, enjoying both children and careers. Inflation will be reduced by increased productivity. However, a substantial increase in the ranks of older people is forecast, as people will live ten to fifteen years longer than they do now. The number of Canadians age sixty-five and over will increase from 2.2 million to 5.5 million. Mandatory retirement at age sixty-five will not be the accepted norm as it is today. Career changes will be more readily achievable and more acceptable. It will be a period of affluence, leisure and creative work for all. Parents will have fewer children; more spouses will be working; couples will have more discretionary income.
Tourism, the world's largest industry in 2029, will be more rigidly controlled. Currently, tourists attracted by the sea coast or the tranquillity of the country environment can have their objectives frustrated by the development of roads, airports, hotels and other facilities which can destroy the very attraction which created tourism interest in the first place. For example, environmentalists have expressed concern over the oil pollution on the French Riviera arising from the large increase in motorboat and yacht traffic. Then, one can see an exercise in increased controls now developing in Egypt. When I was there about five or six years ago, touring the ancient tombs, little apparent concern was shown for the fact that the clouds of dust, the breathing and perspiring of the tourists, and the rubbing of the wall paintings by guides and visitors alike would soon result in the destruction of these priceless antiquities. Fortunately, steps are now being taken to cover these paintings with glass, the size of tour groups has been reduced, and scheduling of visits to the pyramids and the tombs is more carefully planned. In Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, the number of visitors to the Indian cliff dwelling site is being restricted. Recently, in Paris, environmental ministers of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development met and agreed to a series of recommendations designed to reduce future environmental damage from tourism.
By 2029, the energy crisis will have passed. A conversion to hydrogen, solar and fusion energy will introduce another era of cheap energy supply. Air transport, relying on portable fuels, will be moving to liquid hydrogen. The lead time for such a move is over thirty years for the development of manufacturing and distribution facilities and, so, in the year 2029, aircraft powered by liquid hydrogen probably will still be in the minority.
Space travel will be not uncommon, as thousands of people daily travel into space for both business and pleasure. Trans-oceanic flights for people and freight in suborbital space vehicles will be the developing norm. Ray Anderson, Chairman, Lockheed Corporation, visualizes giant cargo planes carrying most of the bulk freight in the United States by the year 2029.
It used to be a slogan in the airline industry that "your vacation starts when you leave"--a portal-to-portal vacation concept. People were encouraged to recognize that the airplane trip is part of the fun of travelling. But have you been out to Malton lately on a Friday night, trying to go anywhere? I understand the process is much simpler if you label yourself "Air Freight." But projections for increased passenger traffic are startling. The Hudson Institute in the United States projects air revenue passenger miles increasing between 1979 and 2029 by over 1100 per cent. Currently, in the United States, sixty-five per cent of all passenger boardings occur at only twenty-five airports. A growing number of airports are being saturated with traffic--now!
Technological advances by the turn of the century, affecting the problems of separation and control of aircraft, will help, but the problem will become acute until something is done about it! For example, the current annual cost of delays at O' Hare Airport in Chicago, alone, is estimated to be $44.3 million.
One of the more interesting developments will come from the combination of activities in the communications and information processing industries. Computerized telecommunications systems, hooked to your television set to provide video display, will permit you to shop at home. You will be able to review, in the environment of your own living room, a mass of information on destinations, accommodation, and even the airline which you would select for your vacation. You will be able to make your car reservations and guided tour arrangements from your home, insert your credit card and automatically be issued a confirmed reservation, your ticket, a boarding pass, and a free drink voucher to cover your delayed departure from congested Malton Airport.
As technological developments in information gathering and presentation techniques make travel arrangements through one avenue more practical, an even closer relationship between air carriers and hotels is projected for the future. We, in CPAir, look forward to this opportunity of even closer integration with CP Hotels over the next fifty years.
Today, in our Royal York Hotel, surrounded as we are by this imaginative and beautiful Canadian decor, reflecting the history, tradition and people of the provinces and territories of Canada, it appears fitting to me to use, with some licence, the words of Sir Edward Beatty, Chairman and President of the Canadian Pacific, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Last Spike ceremony at Craigellachie, in talking to the staff about its commitment to the future: "I firmly believe that . . . there lies before us another period of constructive national usefulness and profitable operation. Much depends upon the effort we each put forth and our continued loyalty to the high standards the past has placed before us. . . . Our country, our company, and ourselves--we shall continue to serve all three in loyalty and in zealous effort."
The thanks of The Empire Club of Canada and the Canadian Club of Toronto were expressed to Mr. Dakin by E.G. Burton, President of the Canadian Club of Toronto.