Simply by virtue of maintaining an AAHOA membership, independent hoteliers have the ability to acquire extensive industry knowledge while making invaluable connections with fellow independent hoteliers along the way. For all the different corners of the industry AAHOA represents, it’s possible the independents are the ones best served by maintaining a membership in the association. After all, there’s strength in numbers, and we can accomplish more together than we can alone, even if our preferred business model has us flying solo much of the time.
Ultimately, many hands make light work, and there’s a reason why there are so many independent hoteliers among the AAHOA ranks. Creating and nurturing relationships with vendors, legislators, and fellow hoteliers are vital to long-term success because none of us operate in a vacuum, whether we own one property or 20.
Much like a rugby team working in unison to advance the ball down the field despite an overwhelming and determined opposition force, AAHOA’s leadership is united with members in achieving a common goal, while making a unified run toward success that’s clearer than ever based on the relationships built at events, Town Halls, Regionals, community gatherings, and AAHOACON.
THE PURPOSEFUL PIVOT
Within the past year, AAHOA has shifted priorities a bit to focus more on advocacy issues at the national, state, and local levels, and this is already proving to be a prudent adjustment based on what seems to be a growing number of national news outlets seeking AAHOA feedback on industry issues.
But, advocacy has served as a key component of AAHOA’s agenda year in and year out, and being connected to that creates a value-added benefit for any independent hotelier. Relationships with other hoteliers and vendors are a huge plus, but harmful laws often create the most industry distress.
Staying abreast of key legislation – proposed, passed, rejected, etc. – is a huge part of what AAHOA does. For example, approximately 100 Ambassadors and Regional Directors recently traveled to Washington, D.C., in a concerted effort to reach politicians and educate them on the individualized and specialized needs of the hospitality industry. In today’s world, government representatives want to hear real-life stories, not theoretical scenarios and what ifs. Having a direct line of communication to your local representative is worth the value of the membership alone.
While all the brands have lobbyists, communications departments, and PR teams at their beck and call, they always will seek to protect the brand first, which is perfectly understandable. Conversely, as hoteliers, our priority is to protect our properties, but independents, especially, don’t have a similar trove of resources and must get creative, which is a key reason why the value proposition AAHOA brings to the table should be irresistible for nonbrand-affiliated properties.
Sure, many of those same brand resources trickle down and benefit the franchisees, especially when it comes to vendor relationships, which are a key factor in growing any business. Since the moment the association came into existence, vendor relations have played a key role in the growth of individual businesses seeking to provide great service to customers. It can be difficult for independents to adequately source trustworthy and reliable vendors on their own, but building those relationships at AAHOA – and knowing a large number of members also give that vendor a stamp of approval via their ongoing business – is crucial to finding the best vendor for a job. Would you rather work with someone based on one recommendation or thousands? Don’t forget, AAHOA Members own 60% of all hotels nationwide.
Even the best-connected independent hotelier can feel isolated from the political process without the heft of an organization behind him or her. With AAHOA Members representing close to 2/3 of the country’s properties, government representatives are more accessible and, thus, aware of the industry’s needs with regards to legislation.
Sure, this is all great news, but the bigger story is that it’s not all that difficult to put a price on connections and access like this. All it requires is an AAHOA membership.