Moving forward, together


Uniting to face the top concerns in our industry

The industry tosses challenges at us every day. The latest seems to be “Is AI safe or not?” But, despite all these challenges, I fear our biggest challenge is the seeming demise of hospitality at its core.

One of the greatest advertising slogans of all time in hospitality is “We’ll leave the light on for you.” It was added, non-scripted, at the end of a commercial recording for Motel 6 almost 40 years ago. It also describes the hospitality industry with one of the greatest elevator pitches of all time. That one slogan says so many things to a guest: We welcome you, we want to protect you, we are eager for you to arrive, and we are committed to providing you service.

frank wolfe

Frank Wolfe, CAE CEO, Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP®)

But, in today’s litigious atmosphere, it seems like our industry’s “lights” are being controlled by so many external forces it’s becoming almost impossible to serve the guest. Major companies in the industry do not like independence and penalize it. Those who take the most risk share less of the reward. It’s extremely difficult to develop long-term relationships with guests and staff when we must follow “rules” out of our control. We spend so much time working on internal issues caused by these forces we can’t keep our focus on the guest. For example, I’m writing this column from a branded hotel, connected to the hotel’s high-speed internet. During the sign in process, I had to read some legalese and agree not to share intellectual property downloaded over the hotel’s servers. How tragic we must treat our guests like potential criminals just to use the internet.

One of the greatest things about running a non-profit association in the hospitality industry is the opportunity to work with other like-minded organizations like AAHOA. HFTP and AAHOA are two associations who succeed via strong networks. These networks are made via families, colleagues, and industry segments.

At our core, we’re driven to help each other succeed in a way of life that can be rewarding and profitable. Both associations have high ethical standards and place great value on relationships. As members of the hospitality family, we’ve been entrusted with securing the future of the industry. While we face many challenges from labor shortages, legal issues, developing appropriate education, and regulatory issues, we need to ensure we do our best to protect our industry and “leave the light on” for the next generation.

AAHOA and HFTP are working together as friends to preserve the industry and move it forward. While it’s an arduous task requiring a considerable amount of effort, there are several opportunities for us to keep hospitality — hospitality as we know it.

1 Education and information: Continuing education programs and news and information resources – whether virtual, in-person, or part of your regular reading rotation – relay current trends, regulations, technological advancements, training, and more. Understanding the evolving landscape will help you adapt and make informed decisions to preserve the industry, and help you offer a better guest experience.

2 Innovation: Identify opportunities for implementing new technologies, processes, or business models enhancing efficiency, productivity, and competitiveness. Often, the upfront investment is high, but the long-term return exceeds many times the initial investment.

3 Collaboration: With a shared interest in enhancing and progressing the industry, the partnership of our associations and their stakeholders (and other friends and family) puts into play an extremely valuable network of expertise covering multiple segments.

As an individual, be sure to collaborate with industry peers, family members in the business, and guests to address challenges and pain points. Such efforts will overall strengthen the industry.

4 Embrace innovation: Embrace technological advancements and innovation for hospitality. Identify opportunities to incorporate these, because innovation can help your business stay relevant and adapt to changing market demands.

5 Advocate for the industry: Nobody does it better than AAHOA!

6 Invest in education and talent development: Support education and training programs to develop a skilled workforce. The more education you can offer an unskilled workforce, the greater sense of loyalty is established, making it easier to retain the trained employees.

7 Promote public awareness and perception: Let your community know how your company positively impacts your area. This not only is great for your business, but it helps draw awareness and interest in the hospitality industry.

These suggestions for keeping our industry relevant and hospitable aren’t exhaustive. However, implementing them can create much goodwill and move the industry forward. In the words of the famous Motel 6 commercial, implementing these will “keep the lights on for you.”

Frank Wolfe, CAE, is the CEO of Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP®), an allied association of AAHOA. He has served the hospitality industry for more than 40 years and received many honors, including Association CEO of the Year, HFTP Paragon Award, Honorary Alumni of the Conrad Hilton College at the University of Houston, inductee to the HFTP International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame, Forbes Business Thought Leader, and has been recognized as an industry champion of education.


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