News, Notes from AAHOACON Days 3 and 4
After a busy start to AAHOACON 2023, the final two days of the conference ramped up the action with more educational sessions and a close election for this year’s AAHOA officers.
On Thursday morning, the general session consisted primarily of candidate speeches for officer positions. The grand finale of these speeches was a quick debate between the two candidates for secretary of AAHOA, Pinal Patel and Rahul Patel.
John R. Crow, President and Founder of Crow Hospitality Investment Group, moderated the debate. He first asked the candidates what they feel AAHOA is missing. Rahul Patel said he feels the organization needs to focus on membership and bring in new voices. Pinal Patel had a similar response, as he talked about youth members.
“The youth in our industry are not coming back,” he said. “I want to bring the second and third generation back in here.”
Crow also asked specifically about labor challenges in the industry — Pinal Patel said the industry needs help on the grassroots level with help from member action and partnerships with local labor associations. Rahul Patel focused on immigration reform to allow more workers into the country.
The candidates also talked about the role of women in AAHOA, with both expressing the need for an improved presence in the organization. Rahul Patel said women “take care of our business on a daily basis.” Pinal Patel said AAHOA needs to be able to empower women to be involved in the industry.
“We should be able to use our resources to empower women today for success tomorrow,” Pinal Patel said.
Attendees could vote on all the open positions from noon to 7 p.m. PT on Thursday.
The results were announced during lunch on Friday in front of a large crowd of attendees. With 56.95% of the vote, Rahul Patel was elected
“Congratulations to our new AAHOA Secretary, Rahul Patel, and all of our newly elected board members. It is truly encouraging to see so many members volunteering to serve America’s hotel owners,” said incoming AAHOA Chairman Bharat Patel. “Together, we are continuing to showcase the value and importance of AAHOA, the largest hotel owners association in the world, and I am thrilled to start working alongside the new AAHOA Officers, our Board of Directors, and the entire AAHOA Team.”
The general session on Thursday also featured Tyler Morse, Chairman and CEO of MCR Hotels, who talked for about 20 minutes about strategies his company has adopted. He encouraged hoteliers to raise their rates — saying 87% of rooms filled at a $100 rate is better than 97% at $90 — and charge for parking. He also talked about fake grass, which he called “the greatest innovation in hotels today,” citing cosmetic, environmental and financial benefits.
Thursday also featured a few more educational sessions — one was a luncheon hosted by Wyndham Hotels & Resorts’ Women Own the Room program.
Lisa Checchio, EVP & Chief Marketing Officer for Wyndham, Stacey Nadolny, Senior Vice President for Wyndham, and Helen Zaver, Senior Vice President at Colliers International, presented during the event. Prospective women hoteliers could learn more about the foundation of hotel ownership and best practices in the industry.