Usher in the next generation of hoteliers

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JAGRUTI PANWALA
AAHOA Chairwoman (2019-2020)

Every hotelier works hard to build a thriving business and wants to see its continued prosperity when the torch is passed to the next generation. Hoteliers have a keen eye for the future – our success as businesspeople depends on it. While no one can predict the future, building a strong foundation and staying true to one’s values is one of the best ways to guard against uncertainty. That, and a whole lot of planning.

Traveling to regional conferences and town halls and meeting with thousands of AAHOA Members offers a constant reminder of their entrepreneurial drive and the success they’ve achieved. At these events, I am also reminded of how many second- and even third-generation hoteliers are following in their parents’ footsteps. That is why AAHOA invests in our young professionals by offering education and networking opportunities so that they too can be equipped with the tools to create their own success. The number and scale of the association’s young professional hotelier events continues to grow, and I am proud of AAHOA’s efforts to engage with the future of our industry.

While AAHOA’s professional development tools can help young professionals get a better understanding of the industry, meet key players, and facilitate business opportunities, planning is key for hoteliers who wish to see their children continue a successful family business. I encourage hoteliers considering this path to develop a succession plan that not only ensures the continued success of everything they’ve built but also facilitates a smooth transition as they reduce their operational role.

There are many things to consider in business succession planning, from tax strategies to identifying a successor and planning one’s exit – far more than this space allows us to explore. Corporate structures vary across our industry as do valuations, individual estate plans, and the degree to which family members are involved in a business. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to facilitate a business’ transition, nor is there one simple strategy to ensuring the continued success and stability of a business. That’s why it is important to work with a team of professionals, including one’s attorney, banker, accountant, and financial planner to create a strategy unique to one’s business.

The process can seem intimidating. The act of stepping away from a lifelong entrepreneurial pursuit and accomplishments can be tinged with numerous emotions including joy, relief, regret, and reluctance. Yet staying true to one’s values and using them to guide the process can provide an intangible clarity that sometimes numbers on a page simply cannot bring into focus. It can also help answer the question that inevitably presents itself at the conclusion of a journey, what’s next?

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