Leaders of the 2021 AHLA and AHLA Foundation Boards weighed in on their top priorities in the new year and share with LODGING what aspect of industry recovery they are most focused on at the start of 2021.
President and COO, G6 Hospitality, Chair of the AHLA Foundation Board
Years in the hotel industry: 25+
When he first got involved with AHLA: Joined the AHLA Board of Directors in 2018
What he doesn’t leave the house without: “I’m a hotel operator—so my phone is surgically attached to my hand 24/7. But I usually have a caffeinated beverage in my other hand.”
Best advice he’s ever received: “Seek first to understand—then to be understood.”
“We need to build consumer confidence and get back on the road. We all know that we have been in a Golden Age of travel over the past decade. This generation values experiences over material things—and travel is widely recognized as perhaps the best way to undertake new experiences.
“While 2020 brought about a hiatus from certain elements of the travel experience for many (like airplane travel, out-of-town gatherings, and face-to-face business meetings), there is definitely pent-up demand globally. As vaccine adoption accelerates and as consumers regain confidence to travel, the industry will see a sharp uptick in both leisure and business demand.
“This outcome requires continued diligence from hotel companies, reassuring practices and messaging from the travel industry, and a little faith from travelers to get back on the road. I believe it’s really more a matter of when recovery occurs as opposed to if it will—and I am fully confident that the hotel industry remains ready to do its part throughout the recovery process.”
President & CEO, RLJ Lodging Trust, Secretary/Treasurer of the AHLA Board
Years in the hotel industry: 20
When she first got involved with AHLA: 2012
What she doesn’t leave the house without: “My cell phone.”
Best advice she ever got: “Earn your way to the table every day.”
“We will be focused on advocating for the industry and the need for the entire industry to be invested and involved with AHLA. Through its advocacy and results, AHLA has demonstrated the necessity of our entire industry speaking with one voice relative to our various interests. Increased input and involvement from all industry participants will help us weather this period of uncertainty and bring back our colleagues sooner, as the vaccine helps to normalize travel trends.”
President and CEO, Apple Hospitality REIT, Vice Chair of the AHLA Board
Years in the hotel industry: 20+
When he first got involved with AHLA: 2013
What he doesn’t leave the house without: “A face mask and my cell phone.””
Best advice he ever got: “The best advice I have ever received was to look for opportunities in challenges. Thinking about things this way enables progress, even during difficult times.”
“Since the onset of the pandemic, we have been intently focused on the safety and wellbeing of guests and hotel associates, and as we begin a new year, we will continue to work with the brands and our third-party management companies to deliver the safest possible environment at our hotels. We are optimistic that ongoing initiatives to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, combined with our efforts, will encourage an increase in both corporate and leisure travel as we progress throughout the year. This operating environment is unlike anything we have seen, making us rethink all aspects of the hospitality business, and we anticipate the long-term operating model of our hotels will evolve to become even more efficient while continuing to exceed guest expectations.”