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Twenty Five Years Later AAHOA Is More Confident Than Ever

More than 12,500 members strong AAHOA is now looking to the next generation for its future success. Here’s what they’re up to at the association’s annual convention.

Thursday, March 20, 2014
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AAHOA is the American Dream and the American Dream is AAHOA. Though not the official theme of this year’s annual conference taking place this week here in Philadelphia, it is symbolic of the story behind this now 25 year organization.

It’s the story of how a generation of future Americans came to this country from India, faced seemingly unsurmountable odds and through sheer will and determination opened businesses, became citizens and gave their American born children a clear pathway to success. And now that younger second generation is living the dream to its fullest potential, taking hardscrabble lessons learned growing up in family hotel businesses and transforming mom and pop companies into vibrant ever expanding hotel companies with many properties.

Together the AAHOA community owns four of every 10 hotels in the country and according to AAHOA Vice Chairman Pratik Patel they are building eight of 10 new ones. Simply amazing.

Now after 25 years AAHOA has transformed from a ragtag bunch of struggling entrepreneurs into an organization 12,500 members strong and the effect of this upwardly mobile coalition is moving beyond the hotel industry to affecting governmental change at the federal level.

It’s pretty remarkable stuff. And though this year’s conference officially has the theme of Next is Now focusing on the next generation of hoteliers, the impact of the current and past generation is undeniable and it’s board rightly celebrated its accomplishments at the opening general session this morning.

“The next generation of hoteliers is taking AAHOA to the next level with new benefits and programs,” said Chairman Mehul Patel who is also CEO of NewCrest Image. “We are doing it now and all officers are under 40. The youngest in the history of AAHOA. We have been challenged to do better things and we have three goals: To help you make money, help you save money and protect your [hotel] investment.”

Mehul Patel shared his thoughts about the current and future state of AAHOA and how it adapting to changing times to meet next generation challenges and opportunities. “The world is changing, our guests are changing and AAHOA must change as well,” he said, noting how the association has become increasingly accountable to members and is working to prevent problems before they happen.

“We are the only association out there fighting to protect your $130 billion in assets you have worked hard to accumulate. We are here to create our future and celebrate our rich past,” said Pratik Patel. “We are reinforcing advocacy initiatives opened do office last year prominent and permanent presence in the Capitol. We own four of every 10 hotels and your voice deserves to be heard every day. In the halls of Congress we used to hear who is AAHOA? Now we hear what does AAAHOA think of the issues?”

Fred Schwartz has been president of AAHOA for 15 years and has seen much change to the association during that time. “Our success has been built on 25 years of hard work and we have seen growth from 3,000 members to 12,500 members since I arrived. A generation ago it was hard to catch the ear of an official. Now we have an office in DC and in the next 25 years we will make an impact on the political process and the American way of doing business,” said Schwartz.

AAHOA is making other strides too. They have upped staff by nearly doubling the number to 30, changed the corporate structure from flat to vertical, the group is moving into a new headquarters in Atlanta and is steadily increasing its overall ranks. The group has more than 1,000 ‘lifetime’ members now, an increase of 40 percent during the past year and graduated 348 from its CHO program, tripling the previous year’s number. The group is also re-launching the association website within six months too with a goal of making it more accessible on mobile devices such as tablets.

AAHOA fine-tuned the governance model to help the organization run smoother too and Treasure Jimmy Patel said the organization is on strong financial footing too. “Revenue reached all-time high of $9.5 million with profits of $1.6 million. We all know the importance of healthy financing and with this profit we can offer the variety of programs and services you want and deserve” Jimmy Patel told the association during this morning’s general session.

Also, more members than ever before have contributed to the association’s politic action committee (PAC), raising almost $200,000.

“AAHOA has come a long way but we are not done yet. We are pleased and proud but we will never be satisfied,” said Mehul Patel.

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