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A Year Of Progress

AAHOA Makes Gains On Capitol Hill, As Well As In Membership

Thursday, February 18, 2016
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At the end of next month, AAHOA (Asian American Hotel Owners Association) will hold its annual convention in Nashville at which time current Chairman of the Board Jay (Jimmy) Patel will hand over the reins of the association to incoming Chairman Bharat (Bruce) Patel. But not before completing what he describes as a year of significant progress for the association in a number of respects, ranging from political progress to increased membership.

For example, hospitality’s largest organization--which was founded in 1989--added roughly 1,000 members last year bringing AAHOA’s total to 15,200 and exceeding its goal of 15,000 members by 2015. Other highlights include nearly doubling its PAC donations by collecting more than $430,000 during the year as well as posting a 95 percent victory rate for all AAHOA PAC-supported candidates. In addition, the organization’s revenues increased by almost 20 percent during the past year.

The aforementioned achievements notwithstanding, Patel noted it’s the association’s political victories that have been the “most rewarding.” For example, Patel pointed out that AAHOA has worked closely for several years with Congresswoman Judy Chu, who was the driving force behind getting the SBA 504 refinance option for small businesses permanently reinstated. “The SBA program was crucially important several years ago and helped keep quite a lot of our members from losing their properties. That is easily our most important victory in recent memory,” he said.

In addition, AAHOA’s government affairs department met more than 500 members of Congress in 2015 and formed two key partnerships with the Coalition to Save Local Businesses and the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA).

Patel also addressed some of the more critical legislative issues moving forward, such as restoring the definition of a joint-employer under the National Labor Relations Act. “That has taken top legislative priority just because it has such massive implications for everyone in hospitality, not just hotels, and we have to put a stop to it,” he said.

Patel also addressed the proposed minimum wage hikes, which could virtually double the current rates nationally and the impact it could have as a result of lost jobs and properties closing. “I think the major obstacle here is that people aren’t seeing the big picture…I can speak for the whole industry when I say that we are 100 percent on board with paying a fair wage, but it has to be a gradual process and the discussion has to include the wage payers as well as the wage earners,” he said.

Another critical issue for AAHOA moving forward is increasing second-generation membership and ensuring a successful future for the organization. “We are definitely in a transitional period as far as leadership. AAHOA is 27 years old; that means that many of the folks that started this association are getting to the point where they want to retire and hand off to their sons and daughters…So our second gens are very much aware that it’s getting to be time to step up and take the reins, and we are absolutely encouraging that. Our Young Professionals group is very active. They’re the best and brightest of the second generation and I have no doubt that they are not only able, but very excited to assume leadership positions.”

Patel also made mention of the fact the AAHOA regional teams in Washington, DC, and Atlanta “continue to outperform similar size organizations.” These teams are led by AAHOA President & CEO Chip Rogers, who recently had his contract extended five years by the board of directors.

Patel, who was elected Secretary in 2012 and was the North Carolina Regional Director prior to that, reflected on the past several years. “It is fantastic to look back now on the past six or seven years and see how far AAHOA has come and to know that I was part of the team that drove that progress,” he said.

Patel reiterated how some of that progress has been measured. “Over the past few years, we have implemented many new initiatives. Combine this with a superb economy and AAHOA has had its most successful year in terms of membership, revenue, member participation, PAC funds and vendor renewals. Couple these records with the fact that we have implemented programs that ensure that AAHOA truly does address membership concerns and represent the concerns of the membership and you have a recipe for superior success,” he concluded.

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