by BHAVESH PATEL, AAHOA Chairman (2017-2018)
It is a pleasure to address AAHOA members, vendor partners and industry professionals for the first time in Today’s Hotelier as AAHOA chairman. I am prouder than I can say of what AAHOA has accomplished and become in the 27 years since its founding, and it is my honor to serve as your leader in 2017.
As many of you know, member engagement is and will continue to be a top priority during my term as chairman. The reason is very simple: engagement is the vehicle that drives this association. Whether you serve on a committee, attend a town-hall meeting or join an AAHOA delegation to Capitol Hill, you are making a positive, meaningful contribution to our association. Your engagement enables AAHOA to not only continually improve its options for professional development, but to also build influence within the hotel industry and speak more effectively on behalf of hotel owners. Thanks to record-breaking engagement numbers from 2016 (73 percent of AAHOA members report attending an AAHOA event last year), in 2017 AAHOA will be dramatically expanding its options for involvement in education, advocacy, networking and brand relations.
Education. The numbers don’t lie: last year, more than 7,100 AAHOA members engaged in our educational offerings, which shows unmistakably that we are providing relevant and impactful information. The recently introduced AAHOA workshops sold out well in advance of the program date and have generated lengthy waitlists, and the newly minted online AAHOA Resource Library drew more than 3,000 webinar views in the second half of 2016 alone. That response means only one thing: AAHOA knows hotel ownership, and our members know it.
Advocacy. On the advocacy front, the AAHOA government affairs team facilitated more than 500 in-person meetings with U.S. Members of Congress and their staff last year through FNAC, LAS and regular small-delegation meetings. We regularly reached out to AAHOA members for support in furthering AAHOA’s advocacy agenda, and their response was overwhelming. More than 31,000 letters and emails were sent to elected officials at the Federal, state and local levels, which clearly demonstrates that AAHOA members trust us to build relationships with key decision makers and advance their interests.
Brands. AAHOA’s brand partnerships have grown by leaps and bounds since the expansion of our Franchise Relations department in 2015. We hold alliance meetings at your brand conferences, co-host brand development days with the likes of Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott, and facilitate productive communication between AAHOA members and brand leadership. Since 2015, AAHOA has served nearly 400 members on franchise-related issues – a number you have made possible by allowing us to be part of your ownership experience.
AAHOA has more to offer than I have space in this column to write, but there is one “catch:” We can only make it available; it’s up to you to take advantage of it. Today, tomorrow and for all of 2017 and beyond, I urge you to seize every opportunity AAHOA provides to get involved, speak out, develop as a hotelier and make your mark on our industry. Beginner or veteran, branded or independent, from 10-room boutique properties to full-service resorts – AAHOA exists to serve the needs of hotel owners. Engage with AAHOA today, and reap the benefits of membership in an association devoted entirely to helping you make money, save money and protect your investment.