year promises to be a year unlike any other for the American Hotel
& Lodging Association (AH&LA) and the industry as a whole. On
Jan. 31, 2010, the association officially celebrates its 100th
birthday. But the celebration won’t begin and end on that date. It will
be a year-long celebration that has already begun with the kick-off to
the celebration which took place at the Waldorf=Astoria in New York
City on Nov. 8, 2009, during the AH&LA Fall Conference and the
International Hotel/Motel & Restaurant Show.
There, the association feted its new chairman, David Kong, president
and CEO of Best Western International, and hosted industry dignitaries
to begin a celebration that will feature events and happenings
“This is an important milestone, having an organization that has been
around for 100 years,” AH&LA President and CEO Joe McInerney says.
“It’s interesting, too, that there are a lot of organizations in our
industry that have been around for a long time.”
McInerney says the importance of such stability and organization within
the industry has been of vital importance throughout the last century,
and today it is just as crucial. “Now, it’s more important than ever
because of government regulations and the current economy,” he says.
And recognition of the importance of such a milestone was evident at
the kick-off gala. Past chairmen of the association and several
luminaries in the lodging industry were on hand. The association also
debuted a new television spot that is airing on hotel TVs around the
country via LodgeNet. The TV spot takes viewers through the last 100
years of the hotel industry and outlines its growth and influence on
American culture and the country’s economy. In addition, AH&LA
debuted its new commemorative book, titled “A Century of Hospitality,”
which explores the history of the lodging industry and the growth and
development of the association.
In both the TV spot and the book, as well as in the words of industry
leaders, it has become apparent that the role of AH&LA in the
lodging industry has evolved significantly since its beginning, when 60
hoteliers met at the Palmer House in Chicago to unite in fighting
deadbeat guests, check forgers, and criminals of all descriptions.
Little could the association’s founders have imagined how AH&LA
would become a leading voice in the industry on Capitol Hill and in
educating and certifying members of the industry. Over the years, the
association has developed a significant governmental affairs
department. It also, through the work of association executives during
the 1940s and 1950s, such as Arthur Landstreet, Arthur Packard, and
Lawson A. Odde, built and developed the Educational Institute and the
Educational Foundation. “The role of the association on Capitol Hill is
a significant one,” McInerney says. “Another significant role is the
educational side. It’s become the leading source of content at the high
school and college level in training new generations of hoteliers.”
It’s also become a protector of the industry and the interests of all
parties involved with the lodging industry. “One of the important roles
the association has is to protect the industry, protect the investments
that people have made and protect the jobs,” Kong recently told Lodging.
Celebrating these accomplishments will be a 12-month endeavor. “All of our events this year are going to have a
focus around the anniversary,” McInerney says. (A complete list of
events can be found in the November 2009 issue of Lodging or on the association’s centennial microsite, www.ahla.com/100.)
This year’s Legislative Action Summit will be themed, according to
McInerney. Another significant event in the schedule will be a return
to the birthplace of the association, Chicago. The Illinois Hotel &
Lodging Association’s annual black-tie event will help celebrate the
national association’s milestone. “There’s no better place to celebrate
than in Chicago, the association’s birthplace,” McInerney says.
Another ongoing celebration will take place in the form of the creation
of a time capsule that will house memorabilia and documentation of the
association from throughout its history. It is intended to be opened in
2035, during AH&LA’s 125th anniversary. “It will give the people
then a window into what we were thinking at the 100th anniversary,”
McInerney says. “The whole world will have changed by then. So it
should be interesting for them. When you think about it, technology
that will be used then probably has not even been invented yet.”
But McInerney believes that there is one thing that won’t change in the
next 25 years—the role of AH&LA. “It’ll still play a significant
role in the industry,” he says.
AH&LA Information Center
It’s like having a research team
on your staff.
By Netanya Stutz
do you need to know to better operate your business? Whether it’s how
many hotels are in the United States, information on hotel taxes, or
how to comply with ADA regulations, the AH&LA Information Center
will answer any industry-related member inquiry at no charge. And
you’ll get your answer within three business days.
Use the Information Center when you’re
forecasting, hiring or restructuring employees, or looking to take on a
new venture. Allied members also find value in using requested
information to support presentations and proposals to hoteliers. Just
fill out an Information Request Form and our research team will
synthesize information from a number of hospitality news sources and
reports, specialized databases, and the electronic resources of the
University of Houston, where the Information Center is located.
While this benefit is exclusive to AH&LA members, a wealth of resources is available at www.ahla.com/information.
You can download the comprehensive H1N1 manual, find industry
statistics over the past six years, access guest safety tips, and more.
You’ll also see answers to frequently asked questions and find links to
government agencies, other associations, and key portals to help get
you the answers you need.