Early in my career, while at my first job in hospitality, there was a lot of skepticism from the more seasoned staff members about me. I was young, but eager to prove myself. That year, I visited nearly 200 Howard Johnson hotels. I flew what was then Continental Airlines to visit those hotels and racked up plenty of miles. I remember receiving a handwritten note from the airline, thanking me for my business.
There is something about a handwritten thank-you note that seems so small yet carries a big message. As I traveled the country visiting thousands of franchisees, I shared the story of that single note. I was hoping they would engage customers in the same way.
Creating these memorable experiences is a habit I have maintained throughout my career, including when I became involved with AAHOA 20 years ago. I have gotten to know the members and built long-lasting relationships with many of them during those two-plus decades.
When the opportunity to become the interim President & CEO of AAHOA was presented to me, it seemed like an obvious transition and the perfect next step in my career.
AAHOA and its members have made a huge impact on my life and the industry that’s so important to all of us. I want to continue making strong connections while giving back to an organization that has given me and the entire industry so much through the years.
In looking back at the past year and a half, the industry has been challenged in ways none of us saw coming, and the pandemic shut down travel, hotels, and many other things. The industry that caters to guest experiences was left without guests, and there were no longer experiences to be had. The isolating nature of the pandemic also changed the way we interacted and communicated overnight.
As someone who has a passion to succeed and a passion for people, the devastating hit the hotel industry took during the past year and a half only made me want to work harder to turn things around and help hotel owners adapt in an ever-changing environment.
I have traveled to more than 50 countries, worked around the world, and have had many cross-cultural experiences. My hotel experience has enabled me to meet people from so many different cultures, reminding me that my world view is not the same as everyone else’s. There is no one way to live. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s just that. We must learn to adapt with the times. The hotel industry and hotel owners will bounce back, and AAHOA will be there to help lead the way.
As I take on this new role, I’m looking forward to leading the AAHOA team and working closely with the board of directors to support hoteliers, their guests, and employees. I’m excited to use my extensive background in hospitality and my passion for people to help AAHOA thrive and grow.
While the skepticism that comes with being young and new has long tapered off, what remains are the lessons I’ve carried with me over the years. I hope you will consider this my handwritten “thank-you” note for giving me this opportunity to serve and lead this great organization.