AAHOACON24 For Tomorrow Recap


Looking back at the 2024 installment of this industry-leading event

roving once againProving once again the might of the AAHOA network, AAHOACON24 was another entry in the record books, with 7,000-plus registered attendees, 84,500 square feet of exhibit space, 524 exhibitors – the largest number in the event’s history – and 44-plus education sessions, not to mention countless networking opportunities, social events, and so much more.

roving once againThis year’s installment marked AAHOA’s 35th anniversary, and saw attendees gathering at the sprawling Orange County Convention Center in sunny Orlando, FL, for nearly a week of time well spent. In the name of strengthening the industry, attendees learned best practices for better operating their businesses back home, made invaluable connections with fellow members and exhibiting companies, heard from numerous top-shelf speakers, and so much more – not to mention electing new members of the Board of Directors.

roving once againroving once againOpening AAHOACON24’s first General Session, AAHOA’s then-Chairman Bharat Patel cited the association’s numerous accomplishments during the past 35 years, noting the significant progress made in connecting with legislators.

“Government officials at all levels now pay attention when our members speak,” he said. “In addition, government agencies and legislators now come to us regularly to hear our opinion, learn from our expertise, and understand our point of view.”

as proof of that growingas proof of that growingroving once again

As proof of that growing relationship, Sen. Rick Scott (D-FL) and Rep. Shri Thanedar (MI-13) addressed AAHOACON24 attendees, with the latter legislator sponsoring the AAHOA-backed Loans in our Neighborhood (LIONS) Act, a bill ultimately designed to increase the amount of capital available in the form of loans to small businesses.

as proof of that growingas proof of that growing

By design, AAHOACON affords attendees numerous opportunities to rub elbows with their peers, making new connections, and building relationships and partnerships along the way. This year was no exception, as attendees enjoyed multiple events curated to foster fellowship – including the Welcome Reception, the Block Party at ICON Park, Classic Bollywood Night, and the event-closing Gala Reception, all of which featured amazing entertainment, food, and live music.

Always popular events, such as the Tech Pitch Competition, the HerOwnership luncheon, and several events for young professionals – the latter of which operates under the “Helping Young Professionals Evolve (HYPE)” banner – made their return and even expanded in their scope.

In addition to pre-existing, and hugely successful, events already established at previous installments of AAHOACON, this year saw the introduction of several new events, including the AAHOACON Hotel Turnaround Collegiate Championship, an independent hoteliers Workshop and Reception, and the Kalibri Labs Certification Training, in collaboration with HerOwnership.

as proof of that growingas proof of that growingas proof of that growingAlso, during each day’s General Session, attendees were treated to fantastic keynote presentations, including world-renowned businessman and TV personality Kevin O’Leary, AAHOA Lifetime Member, cardiologist, and tireless philanthropist Dr. Kiran C. Patel, and India’s leading mindset coach, the motivational speaker and author Rahul Kapoor.

as proof of that growing“We continue to raise the bar year after year, and AAHOACON24 exemplifies our commitment to excellence,” said AAHOA President & CEO Laura Lee Blake. “Celebrating AAHOA’s 35-year anniversary, the success of AAHOACON24 is a testament to the dedication of everyone involved, from our exhibitors and sponsors to our talented speakers, the AAHOA Board, and countless volunteers.”

Feedback from attendees, said Chairman Miraj S. Patel, has been overwhelmingly positive.

“It’s incredibly gratifying to know that our efforts to deliver a valuable and memorable experience were well-received, and it’s a wonderful way to kick off this next chapter for AAHOA as I step into my new role as AAHOA Chairman. As I continue my journey with AAHOA, I will do my very best to ensure AAHOA is united. We’re on a shared mission to help our members and that’s a promise I intend to see us keep.”

Please mark your calendars to join us in New Orleans next year on April 12-15 for AAHOACON25. It’s sure to be a time to remember.


  • 7,000+ Registered Attendees
  • 524 Exhibitors (263 of whom did not participate in AAHOACON23)
  • 44+ Education Sessions
  • 26 Sponsors (2x the amount in 2023)
  • 4 Major Networking Events
  • 84,500+ Square Feet of Event Space (The largest in AAHOACON history)
  • 100% of All Exhibiting Hotel Brands Rebooked for AAHOACON25
  • 6% Higher Event Revenue vs. 2023
  • 31% Higher Event Revenue vs. 2022


mid south

Pinal Patel, AAHOA Secretary, 2024-2025

AAHOA congratulates Pinal Patel of Goodlettsville, TN, as the new AAHOA Secretary.

AAHOACON24 marked the culmination of numerous campaigns, as one Officer position and 10 Board seats were up for election. Participants were able to cast their votes electronically and weren’t required to be physically present at the event. Thank you to everyone who ran for office and to those who voted for candidates they believe will make AAHOA stronger.

AAHOA Members also elected the following 10 members to the Board of Directors:

Gulf Regional Director:
Vimal Patel

Mid Atlantic Regional Director:
Mahendra (MZ) Patel

Mid South Regional Director:
Ajay Patel

North Florida Regional Director:
Jayesh (Jay) Patel

South Carolina Regional Director:
Fenil Desai

South Pacific Regional Director:
Nilesh (Neil) Bhakta

South Central Texas Regional Director:
Vikash K. Patel

Southeast Texas Regional Director:
Bhavik Patel

Southwest Regional Director:
Dharmesh Ahir

Women Hoteliers Director Western Division:
Shetal Zina Patel

The AAHOA Board of Directors also elected the following three members to serve as Industry Partners on the AAHOA Board:

Amir Ahmed, Executive Vice President, DISH Business
Kevin Sloan, Managing Partner, Gauthier Murphy & Houghtaling, LLC
Abraham Tieh, Director of National Commercial Property Tax, O’Connor & Associates


tech pitch competitionAAHOA’s annual Tech Pitch Competition, Co-Powered by HFTP (Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals) aims to discover and promote companies with groundbreaking ideas and products poised to assist the hospitality industry amid ongoing challenges, such as workforce shortages and the evolving needs of hotel-staying guests. Notably, this year’s competition introduced a unique focus on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in hospitality technology, highlighting solutions geared toward enhancing hoteliers’ operational efficiency and profitability.

At AAHOACON24, Kings III Emergency Communications ultimately took home the top prize for its pitch, which highlighted how the company helps bring hotel elevator communication devices up to recently updated ADA codes for sight- and hearing-impaired guests.

tech pitch competition“We are in our third year hosting the AAHOA Tech Pitch Competition, I am continually impressed by the caliber of entries and the innovation in our industry,” said AAHOA Immediate Past Chairman Bharat Patel. “As a second-generation hotelier committed to staying abreast and at the forefront of innovation, I’m proud to honor and congratulate Kings III Emergency Communications for their dedication, ingenuity, and creativity in helping to solve issues related to emergency communications.”


Each year, AAHOA recognizes the exceptional endeavors of hoteliers who exemplify service and excellence, selected by an esteemed Independent Awards Selection Committee.

The prestigious AAHOA Awards Program serves as a beacon, illuminating the path of excellence within our industry. As we celebrate this year’s award recipients, we pay homage to their unwavering dedication, tireless efforts, and remarkable leadership, which continue to drive our industry and association toward continued prosperity and success.

This year, the following deserving winners were bestowed with one of AAHOA’s highest honors:

aahoa award of excellence

AAHOA Award of Excellence: Dr. Jay S. Patel, COO, NashBuilt Construction, AAHOA Lifetime Member, North Florida Region

cecil b. day community service award

Cecil B. Day Community Service Award: Hitesh Patel, Sai Ram Hospitality, LLC, AAHOA Lifetime Member, North Texas Region

cecil b. day community service award

Cecil B. Day Community Service Award: Prakash Saraf, Founder, Friends of Sparsh, AAHOA Lifetime Member, Washington DC Area Region

outreach award for philanthropy

Outreach Award for Philanthropy: Amit Bhakta, Founder and CEO, Nansad Group, AAHOA Lifetime Member, North Texas Region

outstanding herownership award of excellence

Outstanding HerOwnership Award of Excellence: Dr. Ruby Dhalla, President & CEO, Dhalla Group of Companies, AAHOA Annual Member

outstanding hype award of excellence

Outstanding HYPE Award of Excellence: Dhruv Patel, Director of Operations, Lotus Hospitality, AAHOA Lifetime Member, Central Midwest Region

political forum award for advocacy

Political Forum Award for Advocacy: Ray Patel, Owner, Welcome Inn Eagle Rock, President, Northeast Los Angeles Hotel Owners Association, AAHOA Lifetime Member, Greater Los Angeles Area Region

iaha independent hotel of the year award

IAHA Independent Hotel of the Year Award: Lexen Hotel in Hollywood, CA Armaan Patel, Founder of AGA Hotels, AAHOA Lifetime Member, Greater Los Angeles Area Region

All photos from

are available at AAHOAevents.com


collegiate turnaround championshipAAHOACON24 featured in industry-first competition with its inaugural Hotel Turnaround Collegiate Championship, which challenged university students from across the nation to compete in making the kind of operations and investment decisions all hotel owners must make to turn things around when performance is lagging. The competition is part of AAHOA’s commitment to supporting the next generation of hospitality leaders.

thrilled to honor the skilledEleven teams of two students, each representing seven universities from all around the country, battled it out the championship, navigating a unique simulation program, HOTELsim, powered by Russell Partnership Technology, which enabled them to make decisions mirroring real-life challenges faced by all AAHOA Members. These included staffing, operations, marketing, and capital investment decisions. Each team of students “acquired” a hotel that was financially identical in terms of performing in the same market and having the same key performance indicators. Teams used HOTELsim to implement ownership strategies to improve hotel valuation and future profit potential.

After two days of hard work, Grand Valley State took home The People’s Choice Award, and Oklahoma State received the Judges Championship Trophy.

“We are thrilled to honor the skilled and innovative winners of AAHOA’s inaugural Collegiate Championship: Hotel Turnaround Competition,” said AAHOA President & CEO Laura Lee Blake. “This groundbreaking event showcased the exceptional talents and creativity of students representing outstanding hospitality management programs as they tackled realworld challenges in hotel ownership. Witnessing their teamwork and problem-solving skills is truly inspiring. AAHOA is proud to lead the industry in providing unique opportunities to elevate and celebrate the next generation of hospitality leaders, and we thank everyone involved in bringing this vision to life.”

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