AAHOA and the American Hotel & Lodging Association have created the American Hospitality Alliance advocate for hotels on state and national levels. Chip Rogers, AHLA’s president and CEO, left, and Ken Greene, AAHOA’s interim president and CEO, will co-chair the AHA.

WITH THE HOSPITALITY industry facing numerous issues even as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, two major associations have formed a new partnership to address that need. AAHOA and the American Hotel & Lodging Association have created the American Hospitality Alliance advocate for hotels on state and national levels.

AAHOA and AHLA announced the formation of AHA during the summer meeting of the International Society of Hotel Associations in Boston on Tuesday. The purpose of the alliance is to pool resources and streamline efforts, the associations said, and it also will work with state hotel associations.

The mission

“The majority of hotels are small businesses. That is why the owners and operators are particularly well-suited to inform lawmakers about policies and regulations that will accelerate the industry’s resurgence. This coalition could not have come at a more important time as the hotel industry prepares to welcome back guests,” said Ken Greene, AAHOA’s interim president and CEO.

Greene was appointed to the interim position in early June following the resignation of Cecil Staton, former AAHOA president and CEO. Rachel Humphrey, the association’s executive vice president and COO, also will be resigning on Aug. 7, the day after AAHOA’s 2021 Convention and Trade show in Dallas finishes.

“AHLA has long recognized the importance of state and local governments in policy issues affecting hoteliers, and it is imperative that growing our industry’s state and local presence remain a priority as we look toward the future,” said Chip Rogers, AHLA president and CEO. “AAHOA and our engaged state hospitality associations understand how critical a thriving hotel industry is to reviving the economy at the local and state levels, and we are proud to unite every segment of the industry around this effort.”

On the board

AHLA and AAHOA will co-chair AHA, working with an advisory board of 17 industry representatives and staff serving one-year terms. Key issues the new alliance will address include COVID-19 liability, short-term rentals acting as illegal hotels, drive-by lawsuits, tax reform and workforce development. Advisory board members include Aimbridge Hospitality and Champion Hotels.

“AHLA and AAHOA have long recognized the importance of state and local governments in policy issues affecting hoteliers, and the formation of the AHA will be an invaluable resource for hoteliers and lodging associations across the country,” said Laura Vesely Aimbridge Hospitality senior government affairs officer.

Strengthening partnerships among state and national hospitality associations also will be key to AHA’s mission, said Harshil Patel, Champion Hotels’ vice president.

“COVID-19 wiped out a decade of growth in an industry that creates millions of jobs and generates billions of dollars in tax revenue for local economies. AHA’s creation is an investment in communities across the country,” Patel said. “As governments engage with businesses to spur growth, AHA will be there to help hoteliers and lodging associations make the most out of stimulus measures and other programs designed to rebuild the economy.”

Members’ reactions mixed

Former AAHOA Chairman Mukesh Mowji’s reaction to the new alliance was more lukewarm.

“Not sure why another layer of administration is required,” he said. “Plus, AHLA is an industry advocate and AAHOA is an owners advocate.”

However, Sunil “Sunny” Tolani, California hotelier and AAHOA member, said the AHA is very necessary.

“The hotel industry is a battlefield, and I have over a decade of stories and mental scar tissue to prove it,” Tolani said. “Hoteliers are being hit on all sides by OTAs, the destruction of rates, PIPs, construction cost increases, labor shortages and wage increases. We learn to be resilient and focus on our hearts with hospitality and respect for one and all as our guiding light. We want ‘just and fair’ policies. We have nowhere to hide and do not proselytize publicly as our guests are best served by us  doing our job well quietly with our heads down.”