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Hotel Brand Veteran Greene Looks To Guide AAHOA Through Leadership Transition

By Dennis Nessler | July 14, 2021

Leveraging his extensive executive brand experience as well as his strong ties to the association, Ken Greene was tapped to guide AAHOA (Asian American Hotel Owners Association) through a leadership transition when he was named Interim President and CEO last month.

Greene’s appointment came on the heels of the resignations of Cecil Staton—who had served as the association’s President and CEO for roughly a year-and-a-half—and EVP/COO Rachel Humphrey, who is scheduled to depart in early August.

Greene was most recently President, Americas, Radisson Hotel Group, prior to departing the company in December of 2019. He explained that he felt a sense of obligation to help lead the association through this transition period as he reflected back to 2001. That was when Greene—who had just been named to lead the Howard Johnson brand—attended his first AAHOA Conference in Long Beach, CA. He emphasized that several members of AAHOA took him under his wing at that time.

“They really guided me. I’m very appreciate of the advice that I got early on from many of the AAHOA members. Those relationships run very deep and I think that they’ve been extremely helpful in my career. If it wasn’t for that one event and those relationships that I formed 20 years ago I don’t know if you and I would be having this conversation right now. So this is my way to give back to the people and association that I’m very fond of and have a great affinity for. So I actually feel like I owe them in some way,” he said.

Greene later added, “I was happy to be able to do it…It’s been an incredible month, I’ve had more conversations in the first month than I had in the year-and-a-half prior.”

In addition to Radisson Hotel Group, Greene’s more than 20 years of hospitality experience also included stints with Cendant Corporation, Wyndham Worldwide, and Delta Hotels & Resorts.

He further talked about his short-term goals with the association.

“The objective for me was to bring stability into the organization both internally and externally and make sure we have a very successful transition in terms of the Chairmanship at AAHOA [from current Chairman Biran Patel to Vice Chairman Vinay Patel]. Now we can accelerate many of the great things that we’ve been doing while going on into the future,” he said.

Greene’s current position remains effective until the end of September. He noted that AAHOA is expected to conduct a formal search for a full-time President and CEO “because that’s the right thing for them to do as an association.” Greene, however, didn’t rule out the possibility of assuming the position on a permanent basis potentially.

“We’ll see how that all plays out, I’m enjoying what I’m doing right now,” he said, later estimating that he personally knows close to half of the association’s nearly 20,000 members.

There’s been no shortage of activity for AAHOA within the past month. For starters, Greene recently issued a statement in response to several lawsuits filed by hoteliers against their respective brands. Green, who noted “nobody ever wins when it comes to these lawsuits,” referenced AAHOA’s Points Of Franchising and urged changes to the franchise model that would maximize owner ROI.

“Good communication is always really important between franchisees and franchisors and I think AAHOA can play a great role in facilitating that discussion in the early days of [brand] initiatives,” said Greene.

He further elaborated on how the association is dealing with the aforementioned lawsuits while advocating on behalf of its members. “We want to try and avoid those [lawsuits] and make it a winning situation for all parties before those things ever occur. We’re in information gathering mode right now and we’re engaging with the brands as we should be on key issues. My goal would be for AAHOA in the future to play a much more significant and meaningful role before it ever gets to the point where someone feels like they need to file a lawsuit,” said Greene.

The interim CEO commented on the importance of advocacy as well and working with AHLA (American Hotel & Lodging Association) on a number of key industry initiatives.

“There are times when our interests on certain issues are in lock step and total alignment,” he said.

AAHOA and AHLA recently announced the creation of the AHA (American Hospitality Industry Association), which is designed to promote the industry at the state and local levels. AHA’s advocacy efforts will focus on key issues for hoteliers as the industry recovers such as COVID liability, illegal hotels masquerading as short-term rentals, drive-by lawsuits, tax reform, and workforce development.

Green touted the impact of the new state and local advocacy organization.

“I think in a few years we’ll look back and say the formation of this alliance has really moved the bar probably more than anything else in the last 10 years in our industry at the state level and collectively across the United States. I’m excited about it,” he noted.

Greene enthusiastically pointed out the association was preparing for its annual convention in early August in Dallas, which is expected to draw more than 6,500 attendees.

“It’s an interesting time for me and for the industry. We’ve all lived through a lot of heartache over the last 18 months or so, but we’re encouraged by what we’re seeing in terms of business starting to come back. We will be the first conference of any scale at all in Dallas; we’re trying to lead by example. We’re encouraged by the number of people we’ll have and hopefully that’s a sign of better times to come,” he said.


Dennis Nessler

Dennis Nessler is Editor-in-Chief of Hotel Interactive, parent company of Hotel Community Forum. Nessler brings more than 28 years of editorial experience to his position, including some 17 years in the hospitality industry. As part of his duties, Nessler not only covers the industry editorially but moderates various high-level panel sessions at hospitality events and frequently conducts one-on-one interviews with C-level executives.

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