AAHOA Interim President & CEO
This year is a landmark year for AAHOA. As many of you know, 2019 marks our 30th Anniversary as an association, and an achievement I hope all of us will be celebrating together at this year’s annual Convention. Every AAHOACON is special because of the accomplishments that each year brings. But when I consider the growth from the first Convention I attended years ago to the industry-leading event that we have become, I know this will be our most successful one to date. I’m excited that we can honor this anniversary at such a promising time for AAHOA. This milestone truly serves as a monument to our longevity and the many triumphs we have realized in our three decades of representing the hotel industry.
While I haven’t been a part of AAHOA for all 30 years, 2019 also is my personal anniversary with the association. I was first introduced to the world of AAHOA 20 years ago in 1999. One of the benefits for members back then was an opportunity for free limited legal consultation with outside counsel. I was one of the attorneys who consulted with mostly new and prospective hoteliers on franchise negotiations and termination, as well as other business needs. It’s hard to imagine now, but the process of franchising was still unfamiliar to some of the most experienced hoteliers.
My admiration for AAHOA grew from the pride and determination that I observed in each of these members. The drive to build a business and create success for their families is the reason why our members have made so many strides forward in such a short span of time.
Now, AAHOA Members are always at the forefront of innovation within the industry, in everything from opening the first of newly launched brands to best practices to technology development. For example, I remember when dual-branding simply meant having a separately branded restaurant inside of a hotel. Today, our members are leading the way in dual- and tri-branded properties that incorporate multiple brands under the same franchisor into one hotel. By blending more than one brand that can offer more options to guests, such as a family-friendly extended stay brand paired with an express brand geared toward business professionals, hotels can appeal to a wider range of consumers and save on expenses. The significance of this cannot be overstated. Over the years, I have witnessed our young, eager entrepreneurs evolve into exceptionally experienced business owners who are now experts in market demand and can quickly adjust to industry trends as they come.
AAHOA’s progress, however, is not limited to industry expertise. The body of our membership also reflects an industry that is becoming more diverse. Not too long ago, there were hardly any women at AAHOA events and even fewer who identified as hotel owners. This year, not only will Jagruti Panwala take the reins as AAHOA’s first Chairwoman, but more women than ever are becoming hotel owners and joining the ranks of our association and filling leadership roles as Board Members and Ambassadors. We also have a membership that reflects the many different backgrounds of hotel owners as well as the changing face of the hospitality industry. Advancements like this continue to solidify us as the true voice of America’s hoteliers.