by Amar Patel, former intern in AAHOA’s Washington, D.C. office
In early May, over 200 hoteliers descended upon Washington, D.C. for AAHOA’s Spring National Advocacy Conference. The successful event granted them the opportunity to meet with elected officials and policy makers and share their perspectives on several issues of importance to the hospitality industry and to highlight the hotel industry’s significant impact on the American economy.
“The hotel industry is vital to the health of the economic climate in America. It is important that we talk to lawmakers about issues important to our businesses and our communities. The relationships we build now will help with constructive dialogue and partnership down the road. It is important that we communicate with our legislators,” said AAHOA Chairman Hitesh (HP) Patel.
Issues members raised with their lawmakers included fixing the joint employer definition with a statutory definition consistent with the historical standard. AAHOA members shared their willingness to work with many partners to bring an end to predatory drive-by lawsuits. Members also conveyed the hotel industry’s commitment to fighting human trafficking and voiced support for two bills before the House that seek to provide more resources to combat trafficking and to assist and care for victims. Discussions also focused on promoting domestic and international travel, explaining the structure of the franchise industry, and sharing stories of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s impact on hoteliers’ businesses.
“Constituent input is vitally important to the legislative process. Developing relationships with lawmakers and their staffs is imperative to helping them do their jobs and create legislation that meets our communities’ needs,” said AAHOA President & CEO Chip Rogers. “Hoteliers have a unique place in our communities. Whether it’s welcoming visitors, building businesses, or creating good-paying jobs, hoteliers need to share their insight with lawmakers if they want to see real results that keep America moving forward.”
Spring National Advocacy Conference (SNAC) attendees completed AAHOA’s Human Trafficking Awareness Training, developed in partnership with Polaris. Elaine McCartin of Polaris led the training.
AAHOA Vice Chairwoman Jagruti Panwala testified before the House Small Business Committee Subcommittee on economic growth, tax, and capital access on the American travel industry, where she highlighted the contributions of hotels and discussed the challenges the industry faces. “It is a privilege to appear before the Congress and share the story of our industry and the important role that travel and tourism play in driving the American economy,” said Panwala.
For those who were unable to attend SNAC, there is another opportunity to engage with one’s elected officials later this year. On September 12-13, AAHOA is partnering with AHLA to host the Legislative Action Summit, a chance for hoteliers to meet with their representatives as brand representatives, general managers, department directors, executives, government affairs experts, and hotel owners visit Washington to educate Congress on the issues facing the hotel and lodging industry.