Reaching New Heights
AAHOA Continues To Grow Presence On Capitol Hill, Membership
Monday, April 17, 2017
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The Asian America Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) last week hosted its largest annual convention to date while its leadership chronicled much of the association’s recent progress, which included continued membership growth, additional educational efforts and, most notably, substantial advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill.
Taking place at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, the event drew some 6,500 attendees. AAHOA Chairman Bharat (Bruce) Patel, who is now Immediate Past Chairman, framed the group’s progress.
“The position of AAHOA in our industry has never been higher, the relationship with AAHOA partners has never been stronger, and the value to AHHOA members has never been better. The records we achieved and the industry recognition that follows are a powerful reminder that AAHOA now has both strength and responsibility,” he said.
Patel continued, “Because of the incredible determination of your AAHOA Board of Directors; the dedication of more than 200 ambassadors; the hard work of the AAHOA staff; and most importantly, the support of over 16,500 members, we are realizing our dream. We’re accomplishing our mission, which is to be the voice of America’s hotel owners,” he said.
Patel noted one of the highlights of the group’s accomplishments is the fact that it raised $1,087,725 in PAC (Political Action Committee) donations for the two-year period. He further added that in 2016 more than 1,100 members contributed to the AAHOA PAC, more than 50 percent more than the year before.
Chip Rogers, AAHOA President and CEO, put the accomplishment into perspective for the association, which was founded in 1996. “One year ago Bruce Patel challenged the AAHOA Board and the AAHOA team to do something honestly none of us thought was possible at the time. We set that goal to raise $1 million in PAC donations for the two-year cycle. To put this into perspective if you take all the PAC money that has been raised since PAC was created in 1997 that total was about 938,000 dollars. The goal we were seeking to reach was to raise more in two years than the previous 18 years combined,” he said.
Patel detailed some additional accomplishments in terms of advocacy. “AAHOA co-hosted, with our partners in the AH&LA, the largest single gathering of hoteliers at our nation’s capital. More than 500 participants took part in meetings with more members of congress than ever before,” he said. In addition, Patel noted that an AAHOA call-to-action initiative resulted in more than 31,000 letters from members to elected officials “urging them to support issues that are directly impacting the hotel owner.”
In 2016, the AAHOA Board represented its membership at some 218 events since the last convention, according to Patel. In addition to the five officers—which also include Chairman Bhavesh Patel; Vice Chairman Hitesh (HP) Patel; Treasurer Jagruti Panwala—the remaining 29 Board members were actively taking part in events to advance AAHOA. Patel maintained they led over 100 town hall meetings, 40 regional conference, 19 CHO events, 11 humanitarian events, and 15 local government affairs events. “Every one of these events is meant to raise the profile and effectiveness of AAHOA,” he said.
In addition, AAHOA ended 2016 with 16,655 members, the most ever for the group and some 15 members more than the year prior. In addition, the association saw a 27 percent increase in lifetime membership. “More people than ever made the ultimate membership commitment to AAHOA; that’s proof of professional development,” said Patel.
Patel asserted the association received its highest approval rating ever as he referenced a survey of AAHOA members. A record 90 percent of members confirmed that they find membership “valuable.” In 2015, the number came in at 83 percent.
On the educational front, the association created 45 industry specific webinars, which had more than 3,200 registrants, designed to help owners “make money, save money and protect their investments.”
Meanwhile, the CHO program produced a record 420 graduates and/or recertifications and netted two-day learning workshops. Patel summarized, “more than 7,000 members engaged in some form of professional development in this past year alone.”
Patel further added that during the past year the AAHOA staff helped almost 400 individual members on issues that were affecting their business.
During the convention, AAHOA elected Texas hotelier current North Texas Regional Director Biran Patel as the new secretary. Patel defeated Cabot, AR, hotelier and director-at-large Jayesh (Jay) Lallu. Patel has been an AAHOA member for more than 15 years and he has served on five AAHOA committees. He was previously an AAHOA regional ambassador and has led North Texas as Regional Director since 2014.
Officers are elected to the position of secretary, and ascend through the treasurer and vice chairman roles before becoming Chairman. Patel will become Chairman at the 2020 AAHOA convention.