AAHOA CHAIRWOMAN (2019-2020)
Independence is at the heart of the entrepreneurial spirit. While taking a risk to chart your own course in business can be a daunting yet exhilarating venture, the rewards are considerable. In the hospitality industry, hoteliers have options when building their business. Many choose to develop and/or operate a property by partnering with a brand, while others forego developing a relationship with a franchisor and pursue a course as an independent hotelier.
Franchise ownership has many benefits and is seen as one of the easiest on-ramps to small business ownership. In fact, more than 80 percent of AAHOA members own franchised properties. The support network and engagement that comes with signing a franchise agreement is significant, although issues such as amenity creep and ever-fluctuating brand standards can frustrate owners.
In my first venture into the hospitality industry, I purchased an independent property and, a few years later, a second independent hotel. I worked hard to make these properties profitable and deliver a guest experience that keeps people coming back. My family members in the industry provided me with an invaluable understanding of how the industry works, as well as the fundamentals of owning and operating a hotel. This was a great foundation for starting my business, but I knew there was so much more to learn.
It was around the time I bought my second property that someone suggested I check out AAHOA because it was a great resource for independent hoteliers. It so happened that the 2001 AAHOA Convention & Trade Show was in Atlantic City, NJ, a short drive from my home. It was at that convention that I discovered just how much AAHOA could help provide me with many of the resources that I would otherwise get from a brand if I were running a franchised property. It helped me realize I was not alone.
As my career as a hotelier advanced, so too did the challenges I faced. AAHOA’s education session in multi-property management helped me understand how I could run my two hotels most efficiently. The special partnerships AAHOA maintains with vendors not only gave me access to exclusive deals, they also broadened the number of vendors to which I had access and helped me lower costs by finding the best value. The networking opportunities at AAHOA events allowed me to connect with other hoteliers, discuss issues and obstacles, and learn more about how to make my business succeed. AAHOA’s events specifically for women hoteliers and independent hoteliers also helped me develop a close-knit network of hoteliers just like me where we could forge friendships, collaborate, and discuss strategies to make the most out of our hotels.
Independent hoteliers can also get the most out of their AAHOA membership by using MyAAHOA.com, the online portal for AAHOA members to access our industry-leading professional development tools, register for events, and share property information confidentially. This is perhaps the most important thing independent hoteliers can do, for the more specific AAHOA can be in talking about our members, especially ones with independent properties, the stronger our position will be when negotiating deals with OTAs and our vendor partners. Your information is confidential, and we will never share it without your permission.
AAHOA continues to build out its offerings for independent hoteliers. Whether it’s political advocacy on behalf of our industry, our vast archive of world-class education and professional development tools, discounted credit card transaction rates, free admission to more than 200 events across the country every year, exclusive deals and vendor partnerships, or other products and services such as the AAHOA PMS, there is something for every hotelier. AAHOA provides a level of support that makes it easier for independent hoteliers to make money, save money, and protect their investment.