Home Hospitality AAHOA Chairman Bharat Patel kicked off AAHOACON ’24

AAHOA Chairman Bharat Patel kicked off AAHOACON ’24

Bharat Patel addresses AAHOA attendees.

AAHOA Chairman Bharat Patel kicked off AAHOACON ’24 by highlighting a number of examples of the progress and increased clout of the association as it celebrates its 35th anniversary milestone.

Patel—who referenced “compound success” as a prevalent theme of the event, which drew more than 6,500 attendees—further stressed that this is just the beginning for the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA).

“I realize that for millennials 35 is middle age, but be assured that AAHOA will be forever young because it is forever growing and improving. For our association and our members success is an ongoing journey, a journey that will take us to greater heights and major milestones,” he said.

Patel later added, “Compound success has provided the framework for AAHOA’s progress during the past 35 years and it will shape our progress for the next 35 years and beyond.”

First and foremost, Patel touted the association’s progress when it comes to political advocacy.

“Government officials at all levels now pay attention when our members speak up and speak out. Government agencies and legislators now come to us regularly to hear our opinion, learn from our expertise and understand our point of view. This leads to real results that positively impact the lives of our members,” said Patel.

As an example, Patel cited the LIONS Act, which is a proposed bill designed to amend SBA loan limits from $5 million to $10 million. Michigan Congressman Shri Thaneder has been a staunch proponent of the bill.

Meanwhile, Patel also acknowledged the importance of brand relationships while pointing out both AAHOA’s value as well as the balance that needs to be struck between franchisors and franchisees. 

“AAHOA members generate a lot of income for brands and that deserves a seat at the decision-making table. We absolutely must work together with brands as close business partners in a transparent, equitable and productive way,” he maintained.

In the spirit of that sentiment, Patel made mention that Marriott International returned to AAHOA this year after an extended absence. Liam Brown, group president, U.S. & Canada, Marriott International, pointed out that his 35th year as a hotel executive happens to coincide with AAHOA’s 35th anniversary as hereinforced the franchise company’s commitment to the association delivering the following message to members.

“I want to reaffirm my commitment to you, my admiration and the inspiration you’ve given me for all that you have achieved. You are all the epitome of the American dream and I’m here as a friend and an ally ready to help you however I can. So let’s continue to work hand-in-hand to get a brighter future for the hospitality industry,” he said.

Also on the franchise company front, Patel pointed out that the power of AAHOA’s voice was recently heard by the Federal Trade Commission with regards to Choice Hotels’ potential acquisition of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. The deal was eventually scrapped as Choice chose to walk away from the hostile takeover.

Patel, meanwhile, listed six examples of how AAHOA grew its legacy during the past year with initiatives designed to help members run their hotels and build their businesses.

  • The association launched an all-new version of MyAAHOA.com with expanded tools and resources.
  • AAHOA raised more than $500,000 in PAC funding so it “could be more effective and visible on federal, state and local levels,” according to Patel.
  •  There were more than 25 AAHOA regional conferences and trade shows, which included some 5,000 hoteliers.
  • AAHOA held its second annual HerOwnership Conference, which Patel described as a “valuable vehicle to elevate and open doors for women.”
  • A new initiative, HYPE (Helping Young Professionals Evolve), was launched by AAHOA as well. According to Patel, it is “helping to pave the way for the next generation of leaders.”
  • Lastly, AAHOA continued its Back of the House tours for members of Congress and elected officials “so they can experience first-hand what it takes to run a hotel,” noted Patel.  

Meanwhile, current Vice Chairman and incoming Chairman Miraj Patel described his mission for the coming year by underscoring the importance of unity.

“Outsiders and distractors cause us to be divided and only we have the ability to ignore and unite. As I continue my journey with AAHOA I will do my very best to ensure AAHOA is united. We’re on a shared mission to help our members and that is a promise,” he said.

In conclusion, outgoing Chairman Bharat Patel reflected on exactly how far AAHOA has come in its 35 years.

“Indian-Americans started as outsiders in the hotel industry, now we are the hotel industry. And our impact and our influence are going across virtually all arenas,” he noted.

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