AAHOA Conference Puts Focus on Advocacy

At its annual convention and trade show in Houston this week, the Asian American Hotel Owners Association reported record membership, revenue, and profit in 2012. AAHOA has reached 11,165 members—a long way from its humble beginnings in 1989. In addition to focusing on education, community service, and products and services for members, the organization will be strengthening its advocacy efforts in 2013.

“Our work on advocacy will have a direct impact on your business and for years to come,” said AAHOA Chairman Alkesh Patel.

Within the next few months, Patel said AAHOA will open a permanent lobbying office in Washington, D.C. “A permanent office in Washington will allow us to be even more aggressive in pursuing the issues, such as we did this year when we lobbied legislators and regulators regarding two important issues—pool lifts and SBA financing. It will also allow closer working relationships with more legislators,” Patel said. So far, AAHOA has established relationships with Representatives Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), and Ami Bera (D-Calif.).


AAHOA’s advocacy is not limited to Washington, Patel said. Last August, more than 500 Gulf Coast small business owners affected by the 2010 BP oil spill, including many hoteliers, gathered at BP America headquarters in Houston to protest being excluded from just compensation of their financial losses. In response to the demonstration, BP agreed to a meeting to discuss their concerns.

Whether on Capitol Hill or Main Street, U.S.A., the organization’s voice resonates with elected officials, said AAHOA President Fred Schwartz. Its members own more than 40 percent of hotels in the United States, with a cumulative property value of more than $130 billion. “We have our finger on the pulse of the industry, and our ear to our legislators,” Schwartz said.

During Patel’s chairmanship, AAHOA raised an initial $250,000 toward its goal of having a political action committee (PAC) with $1 million in resources. “If we wish to do more in the political arena, we must raise more,” he told members. “There is no cause more worthy than your business, your bottom line, and your future.”

The group also continues its leadership in fair franchising. Patel said they aggressively worked for the passage of California’s bill to protect franchisees from abusive franchising practices and helped move ahead a Universal Franchisee Bill of Rights ratified by the Coalition of Franchisee Associations.

Patel also discussed AAHOA’s new governance model, which will synchronize the calendar of regional meetings, legislative summits, the annual convention, and other events to increase participation and prompt more members to get involved. “Our goal with the governance model is to implement procedures to help AAHOA function even more efficiently and more professionally on behalf of you and the members,” Patel said.

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