Hundreds of women hoteliers take on AAHOA’s inaugural HerOwnership Conference & Retreat
AAHOA championed its goal to elevate women in hotel ownership at its inaugural HerOwnership Conference & Retreat in October. Nearly 300 attendees gathered at the Radisson Hotel Cincinnati Riverfront for two days of inspiring panels, unique content, and networking, including an unforgettable Riverboat Cruise on the Ohio River.
Some common themes throughout the event included industry trends, negotiation, leadership, communication skills, personal branding, technology, lending, and finances.
Rachel Humphrey, industry leader and Women in Hospitality Leadership Alliance founder, moderated the first-panel discussion, which included panelists Tejal N. Patel (AAHOA Female Director Western Division), Nancy (Nayana) Patel (Kosmada LLC/EV Hotel/Triton EV), and Roshani Patel (Artha Hotels). The conversation uncovered why the time is now for women to get more involved in hotel ownership opportunities. The panelists offered great insight to charge the women entrepreneurs in the room forward in their hotel business goals.
“Our industry is relationship-focused. Cultivating your relationships outside of your usual norm is important. Cultivate relationships with franchisors and cultivate your relationships with local lenders. When I went for my first commercial loan, I got rejected. I was feeling so good about it, but I realized I went to a bank I didn’t have a relationship with,” Tejal shared. “My family had a relationship with a local lender for many years. So, when I went through that door and let them know I was a part of the family, I saw the door open a little bit.”
“Technology has changed. Innovation has changed. Dads and husbands are supporting women more in the industry. I think we’ve moved away where my mom was never as involved in the hotel business as we women are today,” Nancy explained. “My father introduced the business, and then my husband supported me and encouraged me to go beyond just cleaning rooms. My husband encouraged me to manage everything and get involved with building and selling. I think you need a good support system.”
Additionally, AAHOA President & CEO Laura Lee Blake took the stage at the event to speak on the art of negotiation as a powerful tool to improve business outcomes, confidence, and relationships. Blake shared various tips and techniques to help the women in the room achieve a win-win negotiation, including wearing rose-colored glasses.
She also discussed how two or more people are usually involved in the negotiation process.
“Taking time to get to know the other party and build rapport can help hoteliers navigate the negotiation process more effectively,” Blake added, “When you step into the other party’s shoes, trust and collaboration increase, giving you an advantage in the negotiation process.”
G6 Hospitality, Choice Hotels, Marriott International, Wyndham’s Women Own the Room, Red Roof, My Place, and Sonesta were also present, many of which were spotlighting their support and initiatives to advance women in hotel ownership. AAHOA was proud to have the support from our industry partners at the HerOwnership event.
CHANGING THE DYNAMIC
In what has been a predominantly male-dominated industry, AAHOA understands how important it is to foster, promote, and empower women entrepreneurs – and the impact that the HerOwnership Conference & Retreat can have on helping women pursue their own entrepreneurial journey.
“Seeing all of these dynamic women in all areas of hospitality come together for a few days of education and relaxation was extremely powerful,” said AAHOA Female Director Eastern Division Lina Patel. “I’m proud to have worked alongside the entire AAHOA Team in launching the HerOwnership program. This conference and retreat gave women hoteliers an opportunity of a lifetime.”
“This is an important message AAHOA is sending to the industry,” said AAHOA Chairman Neal Patel. “These women are trailblazers, and they’re finally getting the support and education they need to take their businesses to the next level and support their families.”
Earlier this fall, AAHOA launched the HerOwnership: Opening Doors for Women in Hospitality initiative, which is aimed at elevating, educating, and empowering the women hoteliers of AAHOA and across the industry. The HerOwnership program will continue to ensure women hoteliers are heard, their skills are utilized, and that there’s a seat at the table for all.