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Exploring the perspective of the independent hotelier

Welcome to a brand-new Today’s Hotelier column. Thanks for stopping by. In multiple issues each year, we plan to devote this space to exploring issues specific to independent hoteliers but relevant to the industry at large. We will hear from veterans across a wide swath of the industry, all of whom have direct experience in the development and operation of independent properties. Unfortunately, it can be too easy for the industry, and the media, to give more attention to the brands and franchised properties, but there’s an enormous chunk of the industry that operates outside the often more-publicized brand-franchisee relationship.

Like many AAHOA Members, I’m a second-generation hotelier. Based in Los Angeles, CA, I’ve been a South Pacific Region Ambassador for five years and have served on the Independent Hotelier Committee for four years, this being my first year as IHC Chair.

One core trait that’s common among many independent hoteliers is the need and ability to pay attention to the basic elements of day-to-day operations. Just like the franchised properties, solving the unique problems we face takes a great deal of patience and a fundamental understanding of the industry. These two skills, patience and know-how, are vital when dealing with uncertainty in the economy, especially without many of the low-hanging resources afforded by the brands. But, just like franchised properties, independent hotels have also experienced the many ups and downs of this cyclical industry while trying to keep heads in beds, maintain respectable service, and create a sustainable business strategy to get through any downturn largely on our own. And focusing on the basics is what is helping lead us through the continuing recovery.

All across the nation, it’s evident that independent properties have been able to remain in business for decades. For some, operating an independent property is a stepping stone, but for many, it’s the backbone of their family business and growth. The practices learned at that first property become a lineage of experience for future generations of independent operators.

The experience of operating an independent hotel often leads to a very close customerto-operator relationship, and those strong relationships across the independent hotelier community grew this industry into what it is today. Whereas competition is an unavoidable – and often welcomed – aspect of our economy, continuing to build this industry takes hoteliers of all stripes coming together to help each other out.

Just like many other industries, there are aspects of knowledge, experience, and patience acquired throughout the process of growing a portfolio that starts at the smallbusiness level. Accordingly, it’s crucial to consider the perspective of an independent hotelier because many of the practices implemented by the most successful brands today were birthed in the independent hotels of yesterday.

Ultimately, the intention with this space is to feature the voices of independent hoteliers across the nation, and showcasing members of the AAHOA Independent Hoteliers Committee is a great way to shed light on what works for us, offer best practices, and generate creative ideas to help everyone in our industry. After all, at the end of the day, regardless of the name on the sign in front of our properties, we’re all hoteliers.

As you will see, this committee holds a lot of knowledge and experience, and these contributions will feature independent hoteliers across the nation who understand the deep roots of our industry and its future. And while the topics will be presented from an independent point of view, they will be of interest to everyone in our industry. Time to get to work.

Do you have a story idea or topic you’d like to see covered in this new column?
Share your ideas by emailing us at [email protected].

Ravi B. Patel is an AAHOA Member and currently serves as chair of the Independent Hoteliers Committee.


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