Unlocking the secrets


Leadership training and the independent hotelier


It takes a lifetime of learning and leadership training programs to transform a founder into a true leader, and it’s a journey I trust we all are undertaking. These skills and expertise, attained through an incalculable investment of time and energy, allow leaders to reinforce a company’s vision, achieve outstanding business success, drive better results, explore innovative opportunities, and make informed decisions for the company’s future.Countless universities and business schools offer comprehensive leadership and management programs to teach the skills necessary to maximize employee productivity, minimize risk, and widen profit margins across a variety of industries. Key among them, hotels and restaurants are seeing an increased urgency in the need for skilled management abilities and philosophies during just the past 10 years. In 2021, hotels in the U.S. alone accounted for an estimated $133 billion in market size – in a recovery year – so the need for strong leadership throughout the industry is indisputable.

The brands are fully aware of this need and a majority have programs in place to address it. For example, many of them offer extremely valuable college-level studies and specialized training opportunities to their executives and managers to further develop their leadership abilities, thus improving the value of their properties and, ultimately, strengthening the brands themselves.

Unfortunately, these resources aren’t as readily available to independent hotel owners, many of whom don’t have built-in leadership or hotel-management education programs on which to rely. And programs such as these are especially vital during times of economic difficulty. Instead, the independents are forced to look elsewhere for such opportunities. Similarly, the brand’s network of resources becomes even more pertinent during a crisis like the pandemic. COVID-19 has been devastating to our industry, yet branded properties, though still very much operating within the same market forces as the independents, have enjoyed the resources afforded to them by way of their extensive networks and deeper pockets.

So, then, what outside resources do independent hoteliers have at their disposal for the development of strong leaders of their own? Thanks to the nature of the modern world, hoteliers are just a click or phone call away from an ever-growing pool of online resources that can be found by way of a simple Google search or a meeting with a local business-development office. For example, Cornell University offers a wide range of hospitality-centered courses online, and it’s a strong bet the local university and/or community college do as well. Also, AAHOA offers the AAHOA Certificate in Hotel Ownership™, which includes an entire module on leadership, among 11 other learning tracks.

Another valuable resource comes by way of free online groups, such as HMBForum.com, which is a hotel, motel, and boutique owners and operators forum with a community of more than 19,000 members collectively helping to solve operational challenges.

These resources, though not as easy to locate as simply calling a brand representative, are indeed out there, and it’s up to us to ensure we take advantage of them. If there’s a commonality among us, it’s our independence, which means we are resourceful, headstrong, resilient, and comfortable working out problems for ourselves.

Thanks to scores of hardworking men and women, the hotel industry is getting back on track despite the imminent challenges we all face together. The brands understand the instability and the dynamics of the economy, and they’re training their leaders accordingly. It’s time we did the same.

timesh patel

Timesh Patel is an AAHOA Independent Hoteliers Committee (2021-2022) member, the Hospitality Director for Paloma Realty Partners, and he specializes in management consulting and brokerage services. He can be reached at or (323) 717-9698.


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