By Chip Rogers, AAHOA President & CEO
The past 12 months have been a whirlwind of growth and development for AAHOA. Together, we watched AAHOA membership top 16,600 and AAHOA PAC donations exceed $1 million – in an election cycle – for the first time in our history. We launched more professional development opportunities and cemented more industry partnerships than in any previous year. Vendor-partner investment in AAHOA is also at an all-time high; we added nearly 200 new Allied Members and well over a dozen Founding Members.
Even outside of AAHOA, hoteliers have much to be optimistic about in 2017. Instead of the soft landing that experts had predicted as late as last fall, it now looks likely that the industry will see performance similar to 2016. ADR growth will hover around 3 percent, RevPAR will grow at a 2.5 percent rate, and occupancy is likely to finish at 65.3 percent.
The industry is also in the throes of an all-mobile revolution. Guests want to text with staff rather than call the front desk, and submit requests via a smartphone app instead of a full-scale website. Additionally, technology that was once seen as groundbreaking, such as mobile check-in, is now commonplace. Hotel guests are well-accustomed to a tech-heavy stay, with one caveat: any technology implemented should contribute meaningfully to the guest experience.
But while industry performance and trends are important to AAHOA members, the fact remains that legislative advocacy is still our top priority. The relationships we cultivate with decision-makers at every level of government are key to ensuring AAHOA’s voice is heard when the time comes to create or amend laws and regulations.
In 2017, as always, our advocacy efforts are aimed at creating a more favorable business environment for hoteliers, and the issues driving those efforts are manifold.
- Drive-by lawsuits and the unscrupulous attorneys and plaintiffs who bring them continue to threaten both industry stability and the integrity of the law they claim to defend. In response, AAHOA has doubled down on its support of the ADA Education and Reform Act – and we strongly encourage AAHOA members to communicate their own support to their elected officials.
- Tax reform in the United States is long overdue. Small business owners cannot wait any longer for relief from arbitrary and overly burdensome occupancy taxes, and for a tax code that accurately reflects the pivotal role job creators play within the American economy. As a crucially important step in that reform, 1031 like-kind exchanges must be protected.
- Workforce relations – including the joint-employer initiative, extreme minimum-wage hikes, healthcare and unfair overtime regulations – must also be decisively addressed. There is a striking disconnect between the individuals tasked with regulating these aspects of the workplace and the employees and employers who must live with them.
In 2017 and years to come, AAHOA will work relentlessly to advance our policy agenda at all levels of government and shape our industry into one we’ll be proud to leave to the next generation of hoteliers. When we have sound policies in place and make the right resources accessible to American business owners and entrepreneurs, hospitality will thrive.