Going it Together: AAHOA Chairman Biran Patel on Surviving the Pandemic as an Industry

Concluding this year’s AAHOA Virtual Convention & Trade Show, AAHOA Chairman Biran Patel delivered his inaugural address on Thursday, urging members to have faith in the future and each other as resilient hoteliers working together to meet the challenges of this time.

Saying, “the road to recovery starts with AAHOA,” he described some of the ways the organization has been helping hoteliers navigate the uncertainty spawned by COVID-19 and how it is preparing to lead hospitality’s comeback. “From advocacy to branding to education, AAHOA is here to make sure you have the tools and resources you need to succeed,” he said.

AAHOA’s advocacy and mobilization efforts, he explained, focus on lobbying leaders in Washington to help hoteliers survive until there’s a recovery—one experts predict may not occur until 2023. “This is a critical time for our industry, as we face an unprecedented liquidity crisis. Hoteliers need real relief to keep their lights on. That’s why our presence in Washington is so valuable,” he contended.

Patel called the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) “a good start,” but said “targeted stimulus is what will help our industry through this crisis,” noting that AAHOA was instrumental in Congress’s passage of the PPP Flexibility Act. “This means you can use more of the funds to cover more of the costs that your business actually incurs.”

Biran Patel AAHOACON 2020
AAHOA Chairman Biran Patel addressing members at the conclusion of the 2020 AAHOA Virtual Convention & Trade Show.

According to Patel, AAHOA advocacy work goes beyond championing legislative initiatives. “To get the industry back on track, AAHOA is working with brands and vendors as well as owners. We will advocate for greater flexibility when it comes to sourcing personal protective equipment, mandates to help owners cut costs without cutting corners, and are discussing with OTAs relief for hoteliers—especially independent hoteliers. We are similarly asking brands to reconsider their agreements with OTAs during these tough times.”

Patel believes that, most of all, the industry should stick together to best stick out this public health emergency and its fallout. “We are all in this crisis together, so shouldn’t we act like it? If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my nearly two decades as an AAHOA member it is this: No one has to go through it alone.”

Patel remains confident that better times are ahead, and that AAHOA members are advantaged by their affiliation. “AAHOA will keep fighting for what hoteliers need to make it through this crisis—whether it is more changes to the PPP, CMBS relief, or working with state and local governments to get real property tax relief. When we focus on what really matters to hoteliers, there’s nothing we cannot accomplish.”


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