Growing its base to nearly 20,000 members, a handful of digital initiatives and a record number of political advocacy donations were among the highlights of the past year for AAHOA (Asian American Hotel Owner Association), which kicked off its 2020 Virtual Convention & Trade Show yesterday.
AAHOACON20 was initially scheduled to take place in Orlando before being forced to switch to a virtual event as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. “Like so many Americans facing the tough reality of COVID-19 we’ve had to make some changes. This pandemic is having a profound impact on our industry and country,” said Biran Patel, Chairman of AAHOA.
Jagruti Panwala, Chairwoman of AAHOA for 2019-2020, detailed the association’s progress prior to the outbreak. “2020 will forever be remembered for COVID-19 and it’s impact on our country and our industry, yet AAHOA’s achievements and growth before we shifted our attention and our resources to address the impact of the pandemic are a testament to our strength and they must not be overlooked. Over the past year we continued to make our mark on hospitality industry,” she said.
As an example, fueled by continued growth of its membership, which nearly reached the 20,000 milestone. AAHOA created a new region out west in the greater Los Angeles area.
Panwala added that member engagement with AAHOA education more than doubled in the past two years nearly topping 17,000. In addition, attendance at town halls, regionals, educational workshops and other events saw 92 percent increase year-over-year. She further noted the association trained more than 6,000 people for human trafficking awareness during the past year.
Meanwhile, the association called attention to a number of achievements which leveraged the latest technology. Panwala cited the launch of MYAAHOA.com as one of its “biggest accomplishments. It is a game changer for our members and for our association. It’s a one-stop shop to manage your membership and take advantage of all that AAHOA has to offer and it allows us to harness the power and resources of all our members to tell the story of AHHOA in ways like never before.”
She added, “the better we understand our members the better we can represent your interest to industry partners to vendors and, perhaps most importantly, to lawmakers.”
In February, Panwala noted the group launched a new AAHOA certificate in hotel ownership, which includes an entirely digital platform that allows users to customize their learning experience and go at their own pace.
“In the five months immediately following the launch we saw more people use the CHO than in the last two years combined and those numbers continue to rise,” she said.
Also on the technology front, Panwala noted AAHOA has held over 150 webinars since the outbreak of the pandemic to specifically address COVID-19.
Political advocacy continues to be a top priority for AAHOA and Panwala, who chronicled some of the association’s progress, particularly as it relates the pandemic.
“We fought for and won flexibility for hoteliers to use PPP loans to cover more expenses. Our advocacy team continues to press Congress and the administration to give hoteliers targeted economic stimulus and real relief for CMBS loans. We are working with our state and local partners on property tax relief and other initiatives to help hoteliers get through this difficult crisis,” she commented.
Panwala noted that AAHOA PAC donations “reached new heights” recording the most $5,000 donors in the association’s history. She spoke to members about the importance of their support.
“Your engagement is absolutely vital to the success of efforts to help elect those who understand and prioritize issues of importance to small business owners like you. It is critical to the long-term success of our industry and to your business. Every single dollar that goes to support AHHOA PAC (Political Action Committee) is an insurance policy against bad loss,” she said.
Panwala concluded her address by thanking AAHOA’s membership. “Serving as AAHOA Chairwoman and as AAHOA’s first female chair has been the honor of my life,” she noted.