Source: Hotel Business
By Adam Perkowsky
August 11, 2020
NATIONAL REPORT—On the opening day of AAHOACON20, Chairman Biran Patel welcomed guests (viewers) to the first-ever virtual conference for the organization.
“As you can imagine, this isn’t exactly what we envisioned when we began planning our convention,” he said. “We were prepared for four festive days of celebrating your accomplishments and our industry in sunny Orlando, FL. So many Americans are facing a tough new reality because of COVID-19, and we’ve had to make some changes. This pandemic is having a profound impact on our industry and our country.”
He continued, “Over 160,000 of our fellow Americans have lost their lives from this virus. Big parts of our economy and our society are on pause. Businesses are struggling and millions of people in our industry are out of work. Hotel owners are struggling to keep their lights on and stay current on their mortgage. It’s easy to get down in these challenging times, but we hoteliers are resilient people and a resilient industry.”
Jagruti Panwala, AAHOA’s immediate past chair—who pointed out that the group’s membership has risen to nearly 20,000, the highest in its history—discussed how important political advocacy is to the association and its members.
“When I first became involved in AAHOA over a decade ago, I saw just how important advocacy is to our industry. Advocacy became a passion of mine,” she said. “As entrepreneurs living the American dream, we have an incredible story to tell. We can use our story to share valuable insights into the laws and regulations that govern our industry. When we engage in advocacy, we put faces to our names, to our businesses, to our issues and to our contributions in our communities. When our elected officials know who we are, our hotels cease to be just part of the landscape.”
She continued, “Over the past year, we achieved great things in Washington, DC. We worked with our coalition partners to help with the reauthorization of Brand USA. We also mobilized hoteliers to inform the new rules of joint employer, which will fundamentally strengthen the success of the franchise business model. And AAHOA officers stood with the president at the White House as he announced the important initiatives that help small businesses. We must keep building this relationship and increase our footprint in the political sphere, especially as the crisis challenges our livelihood.”