Let’s tell our story


It was amazing to see everyone in sunny Orlando, FL, for this year’s annual Convention & Trade Show – AAHOACON24.

During the past two years, since I have been leading this association, I have been faced with issues that constantly bring me back to my roots.

As a leader, you step back and you often ask, “what is the answer here?” when faced with a problem. Back when I worked for AAHOA more than a decade ago, I remember AAHOA had been trying to reach out to Senator Chuck Grassley to talk about AAHOA’s suggestions for comprehensive immigration reform and the potential impact on the hotel industry.

Since I am originally from Iowa, and he was my U.S. Senator, I flew to Iowa to catch up with him as he hosted town hall meetings throughout the state.

I went to a few meetings with AAHOA’s then Upper Midwest Regional Director Satish (Sunny) Gabhawala and a dedicated team of hoteliers. Senator Grassley listened carefully to our recommendations, and later we took a photo together. Afterward, Senator Grassley said he would continue to address the topic of immigration reform, and appreciated our efforts to meet with him in person to openly discuss the issues.

Needless to say, even though we were unable to reach a resolution at that time, he kept his word. We are still talking about immigration reform nearly two decades later because of the impact on this country, including the travel industry.

In the end we got the photo, and in April of that year, that photo ended up on the front cover of AAHOA’s then Lodging Business Magazine for the April issue.

To this day, AAHOA continues to discuss important issues with our government officials that will impact AAHOA and hotel owners across the country. Even though sometimes these things do not work out like the way we intended, we got our name out there and established relationships.

We are not going to win every battle, and we are not going to always change a politician’s mind. But In the end, we continue to grow the influence AAHOA has in this industry, and we will continue to strive to make a difference.

Since that time, AAHOA has helped to strengthen the hospitality industry and influence public policy many times on issues that matter most to our members and the industry at large.

If you remain true to yourself and what you believe in, sticking to the goals you set out to achieve, you might not be able to change someone’s mind, but you may end up on the cover of a magazine and have a good story to tell.


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