Nishant (Neal) Patel Becomes Youngest Chairman in AAHOA History

Texas hotelier Nishant (Neal) Patel, CHO, CHIA, is the new Chairman of AAHOA’s Board of Directors. Patel became chairman at the conclusion of the 2022 AAHOA Convention & Trade Show in Baltimore, which was the second major convention AAHOA has held since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The convention was held at the Baltimore Convention Center.

“I’m thrilled to be stepping up to the role of chairman and honored to serve as the association’s youngest chairman in history,” Patel said. “AAHOA has gone through a lot of changes over the past year, and I’m looking forward to helping lead this great organization into the future.”

Patel became an AAHOA Member in 2012 and soon volunteered to serve as an AAHOA Ambassador. He joined AAHOA’s Board of Directors in 2016 after being elected as the Young Professional Director Western Division, a position he held for three years.

“If you’ve ever wondered to what extent AAHOA serves its membership, I am a perfect example,” Patel said. “My parents didn’t have the opportunity to have AAHOA as a resource, but thankfully, when I took over the family business, AAHOA was there for me as I navigated the hospitality industry. AAHOA provided me with the educational tools I needed to run a hotel successfully.”

Patel grew up in Surat, India, and nearly two decades ago, his family left everything they knew to start a new life in Mississippi. “Like the majority of AAHOA Members, we were in search of the ‘American Dream,’” Patel said. “My parents wanted to create a better life for their children and leave a legacy that generations to come would be proud of.”

Patel is a second-generation hotelier who grew up in the industry wearing many hats as he helped his family run their first 20-room independent property in Laurel, MS.

These days, Patel calls Austin, TX, home and is the managing partner of Blue Chip Hotels, which owns and operates multiple hotels. Blue Chip Hotels has more than 1,200 rooms in several states among both branded and independent properties.

“My parents always told me that if you don’t try, you won’t succeed. If you talk too much, you’re not learning,” Patel said. “As I step into my new role, my focus is on our members and serving them well. Going forward, I will be the facilitator to make things happen.”

Patel is inspired to give back to the hospitality industry through service. He serves on the HITEC Advisory Council and promotes organ donor awareness through his volunteer work with Samaj Saves Lives.

“AAHOA helped us create generational success,” Patel said. “After all that AAHOA has given me and my family, I’m looking forward to serving this great organization and giving back to the AAHOA community through listening, learning, bringing new ideas to the table, and enacting change at every level of the organization. Thank you for placing your faith in me as AAHOA’s next Chairman. I am here to serve you, our valued members.”

AAHOA Announces New Secretary and Board Members

Kamalesh (KP) Patel of Santa Cruz, CA, is the new AAHOA Secretary. Patel is the CEO of Aarav Hospitality, LLC, and AKS Hospitality, LLC.

AAHOA Members also elected the following ten members to the Board of Directors:

Alabama Regional Director: Sanjay M. Patel

Central Midwest Regional Director: Arti Patel

North Carolina Regional Director: Pinkesh Patel

Northeast Regional Director: Preyas Patel

Northwest Regional Director: Taran Patel

Upper Midwest Regional Director: Kalpesh Joshi

Washington DC Area Regional Director: Deepak Patel

Director at Large Eastern Division: Pinal Patel

Director at Large Western Division: Hitesh Patel

Young Professional Director – Western Division: Tanmay Patel

“I’m thrilled to welcome our new AAHOA Secretary and all of our newly elected board members. Over the last 30 years, our volunteer leaders have worked tirelessly to make AAHOA a leading hotel association in the U.S. and advocate for initiatives that help the hospitality industry thrive,” said incoming AAHOA Chairman Nishant (Neal) Patel. “As we continue on this road to recovery, it is encouraging to see so many members rising to the occasion and serving America’s hotel owners. I can’t wait to start working alongside the new AAHOA Officers, our Board of Directors, and the entire AAHOA Team. Together, we will work on taking this great association to the next level.”

AAHOA is the largest hotel owners association in the nation, with Member-owned properties representing a significant part of the U.S. economy. AAHOA’s 20,000 members own 60% of the hotels in the United States and are responsible for 1.7% of the nation’s GDP. More than one million employees work at AAHOA member-owned hotels, earning $47 billion annually, and member-owned hotels support 4.2 million U.S. jobs across all sectors of the hospitality industry. AAHOA’s mission is to advance and protect the business interests of hotel owners through advocacy, industry leadership, professional development, member benefits, and community engagement.

AAHOA Announces 2022 Award Winners

On the third day of the 2022 AAHOA Convention & Trade Show, the association recognized achievement and excellence in the hospitality industry with its annual awards.

Each year, AAHOA honors hoteliers who go above and beyond in service to the hospitality industry.

The annual AAHOA Awards Program recognizes the best of the best, and AAHOA is honored to highlight this year’s award winners’ service and commitment to excellence.

Their hard work and dedication does not go unnoticed, and it is through their leadership, grit, and determination that our industry – and association – continues to thrive.

Winners received their awards on the main stage during the general session on Thursday. The 2022 award winners are:

AAHOA Award of Excellence

This award recognizes a hotelier who has demonstrated strong leadership, has high standards of excellence, and is making a significant contribution to the lodging Industry.

Vimal Patel, President and CEO, QHotels Management, AAHOA Ambassador, Gulf Region Cecil B. Day Community Service Award

Named in honor of Cecil B. Day, the founder of Days Inn known for his commitment to community service, this award recognizes someone who has demonstrated a strong commitment to serving his or her community.

Manhar (MP) Rama, CEO, Sima Hospitality; AAHOA Past Chair (2005-2006)  Outreach Award for Philanthropy . This award is given to an individual deeply involved with helping humanity through philanthropic and charitable activities, domestically or overseas.

Babu Patel, Trustmark Park Hospitality Outstanding Woman Hotelier of the Year Award. This award recognizes a woman hotelier for strong leadership and a commitment to lodging excellence, and for her significant contributions to the industry and to her community.

Pinky P. Bhaidaswala, SSN Hotel Management, LLC Outstanding Young Professional Hoteliers of the Year Award.  This award is for young hoteliers under the age of 30 who have exemplified the spirit, dedication, and achievement of a professional hotelier.

Armaan Patel, AGA Hotels Taran Patel, Managing Principal, A1 Hospitality Group; AAHOA Ambassador, Northwest Region

“This year’s AAHOA award recipients are movers and shakers in their communities and have gone above and beyond to enhance the hotel guest experience,” said AAHOA Chair Vinay Patel. “The hospitality industry has changed over the years, especially throughout the pandemic. Despite that, these individuals have been forward-thinking and proactive in their contributions to hospitality. Congratulations to every award recipient; your commitment to excellence is what sets you apart from the rest.”

“Congratulations to the six award recipients who demonstrated exceptional work, and strived for excellence, through two unprecedented years to ensure our industry thrives and creates generational success for years to come,” said incoming AAHOA Chairman Nishant (Neal) Patel, “We are proud to honor and recognize these individuals for their tremendous impact at AAHOA and in the hospitality industry.”

AAHOA Announces Release Of Its Updated 12 Points Of Fair Franchising

AAHOA announced that it has released its updated 12 Points of Fair Franchising in the form of a new resource guide for AAHOA Member-Franchisees, “An Educational Primer: A Best-Practice Approach to Designing, Developing, and Implementing Best-in-class, Mutually Beneficial Franchise Systems.”

AAHOA’s revised 12 Points of Fair Franchising continue our mission and commitment to educating AAHOA Members, helping to fulfill our vision to be the foremost advocate and resource for America’s hotel owners. Ultimately, the updated 12 Points reflect the current business landscape and the long-term, mutually beneficial relationship between industry Franchisors and Franchisees.

“Because of the changing business environment post-COVID-19 and the ever-evolving need to educate our members, it was time for AAHOA to revisit the 12 Points and review them carefully to ensure that they’re relevant and reflective of industry changes and evolution,” AAHOA Chair Vinay Patel said.

Released via a new landing page on AAHOA.com (AAHOA.com/12Points) and a new Resource Guide created specifically for AAHOA Member-Franchisees, AAHOA’s updated 12 Points serve as an educational primer for hospitality Franchisors and AAHOA Members (current and future hospitality Franchisees) to discuss and use to continue designing, developing, and implementing best-in-class, mutually beneficial franchise systems.

“In order to fulfill this mission, AAHOA created the 12 Points of Fair Franchising Ad Hoc Committee, which was tasked with recommending revisions to the 12 Points of Fair Franchising,” Patel said. “And I’m pleased to announce today that, with the help, support, and input of the 12 Points of Fair Franchising Ad Hoc Committee and the AAHOA Board of Directors, we’re releasing the updated 12 Points of Fair Franchising.”

AAHOA recognizes that brands are our business partners and through the update of the 12 Points of Fair Franchising, AAHOA aims to continue the open dialogue, collaboration, and mutual understanding of franchise best practices.

The revised 12 Points can also be used by Franchisors to better understand the needs of their industry partners and Franchisees.

“I recommend every AAHOA Member-Franchisee review the 12 Points in their entirety to familiarize themselves with the content and best practices for fruitful Franchisee-Franchisor relationships and to better understand the provisions in franchise agreements,” Patel said.

ABOUT THE 12 POINTS
In 1998, AAHOA identified certain best practices for the hospitality franchise system. AAHOA called those best practices the 12 Points of Fair Franchising (“12 Points”). AAHOA has continuously updated the 12 Points to reflect business changes and the long-term, mutually beneficial relationship between industry Franchisors and Franchisees. The revised 12 Points continue this mission as an educational primer for hospitality Franchisors and AAHOA Members (current and future hospitality Franchisees) to discuss and use to continue designing, developing, and implementing best-in-class, mutually beneficial franchise systems.

ABOUT AAHOA
AAHOA is the largest hotel owners association in the nation, with Member-owned properties representing a significant part of the U.S. economy. AAHOA’s 20,000 members own 60% of the hotels in the United States and are responsible for 1.7% of the nation’s GDP. More than one million employees work at AAHOA member-owned hotels, earning $47 billion annually, and member-owned hotels support 4.2 million U.S. jobs across all sectors of the hospitality industry. AAHOA’s mission is to advance and protect the business interests of hotel owners through advocacy, industry leadership, professional development, member benefits, and community engagement.

Air New Zealand Introduces East Coast’s First Nonstop Auckland Flight

Air New Zealand is launching the first-ever nonstop flight from New York to Auckland.

Flights will begin operating out of New York JFK on September 17, flying year-round into Auckland International Airport three times per week on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner jet. Additionally, Air New Zealand is bestowing special flight numbers on the momentous route: The southbound leg will be dubbed NZ 1, while northbound flights will be referred to as NZ 2.

“Traditionally, flight numbers 1 and 2 are used for an airline’s flagship route. And that’s what New York will be—our flagship route,” Greg Foran, CEO of Air New Zealand, said in a statement. “We’ve worked incredibly hard over the past few years to make this ultra-long-haul service a reality–it’s one of the longest routes in the world.”

In fact, the southbound leg of the historic new route will become the fourth-longest flight in the world, with a flight time clocking in at 17 hours and 35 minutes. The route will also be the first-ever nonstop from the East Coast of the U.S. to the South Pacific.

On board, the airline’s Dreamliners will be outfitted with plenty of premium seats to keep passengers comfortable for the duration of the ultra-long flight, with 27 seats in business class, 33 in premium economy, and 215 in economy class. Notably, the plane will also feature 13 of the airline’s famous Sky Couch product, which is essentially a row of economy seats combined into one fare so fliers can stretch out mid-flight.

Since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, New Zealand has been largely sealed off to most travelers, with its airlines operating few—if any—international flights. Government officials recently announced the nation’s borders would reopen on May 1 to vaccinated visitors from visa-waiver countries, including the U.S.

In 2019, the airline had announced plans to launch a similar nonstop route from New Jersey’s Newark airport to Auckland, but that launch was derailed by the pandemic. “The U.S. has always been a key market for us, and this new route cements our commitment to growing opportunities for tourism between the two countries,” Foran said. “In the six years leading up to COVID, the U.S. visitor numbers to New Zealand doubled, so we expect our much-awaited non-stop service to be incredibly strong year-round.”

Americans looking to hop on one of the new flights this year should book as soon as possible: Air New Zealand executives have said that flights have been selling out almost as quickly as they’ve been adding them, with the airline’s first international flights added in earlier February between Australia and New Zealand booking up in a matter of days.

“This is a breathtakingly beautiful part of the world,” Foran said. “We’ve been keeping all the best spots and hidden gems warm for our visitors while they’ve been gone and now, we’re ready to show them what they’ve been missing.”

8 Young Professional Hoteliers Session Topic and Speakers Set for AAHOACON22

We are pleased to announce our Young Professional Hoteliers session topic and speakers for AAHOACON22! As travel settles into the new post-pandemic normal, our industry has been predicting that this year will be the year hotel owners will be eager to buy and sell. Join us for “Development 2.0 – How to Take Property Development & Acquisition to the Next Level” (3:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 13) as Justin Knight, CEO, Apple Hospitality REIT, and Jay H. Shah, CEO, Hersha Hospitality Trust, uncover what segments currently dominate the market and the best development and acquisition opportunities to capitalize on in 2022 and beyond.

Meanwhile in a message, AAHOA Chairman, Vinay Patel stated: “AAHOACON22 is less than 20 days away. One of the top perks of this year’s convention is the wealth of new knowledge, inspiration, and connections you will make in Baltimore next month.

I am pleased to announce that Justin Knight, CEO of Apple Hospitality REIT, and Jay H. Shah, CEO of Hersha Hospitality Trust, are the guest speakers for the Young Professional Hoteliers Session on Wednesday, April 13 at AAHOACON22. Knight and Shah will discuss the current market landscape and development and acquisition opportunities.

AAHOA also is excited to have as a part of the impressive speaker lineup Tori Emerson Barnes, Public Affairs and Policy Executive Vice President of U.S. Travel Association, Cindy Estis Green, CEO & Co-Founder of Kalibri Labs, and Tyler Morse, Chairman & CEO of MCR Hotels. You will not want to miss out on what they’ll share with attendees during our General Sessions.

This year’s convention promises to be an unforgettable experience. It will open with a Welcome Reception at M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens. The celebration will continue midweek when American-born Bollywood singer Jeffrey Iqbal headlines the Block Party at Power Plant Live!. Indian superstar playback singer/actor Shaan will help us end AAHOACON22 on a high note when he takes the stage for the closing Gala. Don’t miss the excitement – register today!

But the fun doesn’t stop after AAHOACON22 – we have a lot of excellent events coming up after, including two Regional Conferences and a charity golf tournament in May. Check out our upcoming events and make plans to join us.

The credentialing process for the 2022 AAHOA Elections starts on Monday, March 28 and ends April 8. If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to update your profile in MyAAHOA today and avoid delays in credentialing. To ensure you are prepared and ready to vote in the 2022 Elections, visit the new Elections Resource Center on AAHOA.com, a hub for election information, including this step-by-step video to show you how to get started. I am proud to serve our members alongside Team AAHOA.”

With current labor challenges, price increases, pandemic-related construction delays, and more, the current landscape leaves much to the unknown. This informative session will discuss this new landscape and teach strategies on how to navigate property development and acquisition in this new era. Don’t miss it! Register today!

AAHOA Chair Vinay Patel Condemns Russia’s Premeditated, Unprovoked, and Unjustified Invasion of Ukraine

Two weeks ago, Russian military forces under the guidance of President Putin began an unprovoked and unjustified attack on the Ukrainian people. Today, more than two million people have fled Ukraine, with as many as five million expected to be displaced as Russian troops continue to advance toward major cities.

The thoughts and prayers of AAHOA Members, Americans, and the entire world are with the Ukrainian people as they suffer through this tragic humanitarian crisis. “Seeing the news – images and videos of Ukrainian people in bomb shelters, fleeing their homes, and crowding train stations to get to safety – is incredibly upsetting,” AAHOA Chair Vinay Patel said. “And I know AAHOA Members also are in shock and disbelief about this premeditated war, which is undoubtedly bringing incredible human suffering to the innocent people of Ukraine.”

It’s in times of need and suffering that our industry can really make an impact. A new initiative, #HospitalityHelps, has the single goal of providing temporary hotel accommodation to Ukrainian residents who are forced to leave their homes as a result of the war.

“The hospitality industry has always been one to step up in times of need,” Patel said. “The HospitalityHelps initiative is a true testament to what can be accomplished when we work together to help those who are suffering.” HospitalityHelps is currently connecting families on the run from the war in Ukraine with hotel owners across the world providing free hotel stays. “At the end of the day, people just need to feel safe. They need a roof over their heads and a place to call home while their country is experiencing extreme unrest,” Patel said. “This is the very foundation of the hotel industry and what hotel owners strive to do each and every day: provide solace and peace for those who need rest and a safe place to stay.”

AAHOA Members and our community of hoteliers are stepping up to help the refugees affected by this senseless act of aggression. We encourage anyone who can make donations or contributions to help the refugees affected by the war at hospitality-helps.org. Alternatively, here’s a list of the top-rated charities to help the Ukraine relief effort. AAHOA Members continue to pray for the strong, brave people of Ukraine and will continue providing any help possible as the situation progresses.

AAHOA is the largest hotel owners association in the nation, with Member-owned properties representing a significant part of the U.S. economy. AAHOA’s 20,000 members own 60% of the hotels in the United States and are responsible for 1.7% of the nation’s GDP. More than one million employees work at AAHOA member-owned hotels, earning $47 billion annually, and member-owned hotels support 4.2 million U.S. jobs across all sectors of the hospitality industry. AAHOA’s mission is to advance and protect the business interests of hotel owners through advocacy, industry leadership, professional development, member benefits, and community engagement.

AAHOA Board Members On The Strides Women Have Made In Hospitality Industry

The March issue of Today’s Hotelier magazine is on newsstands everywhere, and in honor of Women’s History Month, AAHOA Female Director Eastern Division Lina Patel and AAHOA Female Director Western Division Tejal N. Patel are featured on the cover. In the cover story, Lina and Tejal share their perspectives and insights on the strides women have made in the industry and the progress still to come for the association.

As is true for numerous industries, leadership positions across many facets of hospitality have long been dominated by men. But times are changing, and women make up growing per-centages of leadership positions at hotels, within the brands, at supplier companies, and pretty much everywhere else. And groups such as the Castell Project have put considerable effort into accelerating the numbers of women in hospitality leadership and owner-ship. AAHOA also is on the front lines of this fight, its members are playing an increasingly important role in leading the industry forward in the march toward gender equality in leadership.

Here, we feature perspectives from two women who hold leadership positions within AAHOA. They stand on the shoulders of those who came before them while carrying the torch for those who will come after.

By LINA PATEL, CHO, FEMALE DIRECTOR EASTERN DIVISION

After immigrating from India to the U.S. in the early 1980s with my parents, I practically grew up in a hotel. Like many AAHOA Members, I cleaned rooms, did the laundry, worked front desk shifts, and even mowed the lawn. I vividly remember coming home after school and immediately racing to the hotel lobby to begin my shift. Today, countless shifts and many years later, I’m the owner and operator of a Days Inn by Wyndham in Cincinnati, OH, and my portfolio includes Wyndham, Marriott, Choice, and IHG properties across the Eastern U.S.

I’m also privileged to serve on the board of the Franchise Advisory Council for Days Inn, where I help fine- tune brand standards before passing them to hotel owners with the goals of maximizing revenue, saving money, and providing resources needed to operate their hotels efficiently. Through my time in this industry, I’ve become experienced in negotiating and forming international business partnerships, and I started an international company catering to international extreme adventure travel, Himalayan Glacier Trekking, in 2010.

As a second-generation hotelier, I have faced more challenges than I care to recount here, and I don’t cite my accomplishments to brag. Instead, they demonstrate the difficulties that many of us have faced on our ascent into leadership. And while the journey certainly isn’t easy for anyone in this industry, women undeniably face additional obstacles. However, as Michelle Obama said, “There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” The women of AAHOA are always ready to board the limitless learning platform provided by AAHOA, and there are many examples besides myself of women who are breaking down barriers and helping to level the playing field.

“I have faced more challenges than I care to recount here, and I don’t cite my accomplishments to brag. Instead, they demonstrate the difficulties that many of us have faced on our ascent into leadership.”

As an AAHOA Board Member and industry veteran, I want to help create opportunities for women hoteliers and provide a platform for us to learn from and inspire each other, and set everyone up for years of progress and success. For example, my team and I have hosted more than 45 women hotelier education and networking sessions across the nation, planned three women hotelier conferences, and hosted five brand-development days and six educational sessions at national conventions with 1,200 women attendees being the largest educational session on the AAHOA platform!

AAHOA provides opportunities for women hoteliers to build relationships with local officials and decision makers in our local governments to ensure they understand our businesses and our industry. Without question, women play an important role in the hospitality industry, and especially in the families of so many AAHOA Members. Although many of our mothers and sisters played an equal role in helping these businesses succeed, we have yet to see enough women serving in prominent industry roles, but I’m proud that AAHOA strives to lead by example and counts growing numbers of women leaders among its membership.

Women are the backbone of America’s hotel industry, and they remain underrepresented in the industry. AAHOA is committed to changing that, as its initiatives to help women hoteliers take their rightful place in our industry started with education and networking events. When we all work together, the opportunities are limitless.

By TEJAL N. PATEL, CHO, CHIA, FEMALE DIRECTOR WESTERN DIVISION

AAHOA Members represent the heart of the hotel industry. They are the owners and operators of more than 60% of all hotels in the country that not only provide jobs for their employees but also invest in their local communities. Their hotels are more than places where people sleep; they’re gathering spaces, community centers, and often sources of support for those who need it most.

When you walk into an American hotel, you’re most likely walking into the life’s work of an AAHOA Member, whose contributions help strengthen the economy.

Since the 1940s, Asian-American hoteliers have been planting the seeds critical to the growth and success of the industry generation after generation. The entrepreneurs of this diaspora are the American Dream personified. They are AAHOA.

The association will continue promoting and protecting the interests of its members through advocacy efforts, as it has for the past 30-plus years. However, as we enter this “rebuilding/recovery” phase, AAHOA Members are at an important juncture that will shape the industry during the next five years and beyond.

Poor prospecting of hospitality labor, increase in costs, and supply chain problems are just a handful of the myriad issues owners face. Furthermore, the need for hotel franchising reform has only been amplified by frustrated franchisees.

Our industry is no stranger to downturns and adverse circumstances. Resiliency is a key pillar of our entrepreneurial spirit. AAHOA has gone through bumps, yet we have come so far since we were founded. But, there is still work left to do.

There are many potential challenges that could threaten industry recovery, but none is more threatening than a lack of unity and teamwork from all fronts. The ability to put ego aside and seek out other ideas from others – whether inside or outside of our industry – is key to getting the best results.

“To excel today and tomorrow, each AAHOA Member must continue to learn and grow in unity.”

Success comes not just from constantly working hard and thinking strategically but working on the right things at the right time. It’s easy to tear each other down when someone has a different perspective than you or challenges your thinking.

But, that’s the critical point that allows us to collectively make impactful change. Most of our membership is rooted in the South-Asian diaspora, yet there is diversity among us. It’s important to understand that there are many different ways of thinking, and our diversity is what enables us to do great things together, united.

The impact of AAHOA Members during the past 30 years has been tremendous.

AAHOA Members were the first to own their hotels and take control of their destinies. AAHOA Members were among the first to embrace technology, globalization, and franchising. AAHOA Members took control of their businesses and turned them into profit-generating assets. They expanded their businesses, brought in new blood, and raised capital to acquire and build more hotels.

To excel today and tomorrow, each AAHOA Member must continue to learn and grow in unity. It is my sincere hope we all come together and focus on the future trajectory of our industry and association. I also hope our members’ presence will be felt in every facet of hospitality: from the guestroom to the boardroom to the halls of Congress.

AAHOA Mourns The Passing Of Jayanti P. (JP) Rama

AAHOA Chair Vinay Patel issued the following statement on the passing of one of AAHOA’s Past Chairs, Jayanti P. (JP) Rama:  “America’s hotel owners are heartbroken to learn about the passing of an AAHOA icon, Jayanti P. (JP) Rama. JP is the brother of AAHOA Founder HP Rama and past AAHOA Chairman MP Rama.

During his tenure at the helm of AAHOA, JP focused on building the association’s membership through awareness campaigns,  Town Hall meetings, and educational seminars, with sessions held throughout the country. He was known for being a staunch supporter of young people getting involved in AAHOA and the industry.

As vice chairman of the board of Auro Hotels, based in Greenville, S.C., JP focused on operations, purchasing, and design and interiors for acquisitions and new developments. Prior to Auro Hotels, JP was founding principal and vice chairman of the board for JHM Hotels, which was one of the nation’s largest hotel owner/operators. In 2017, the JHM Hotels’ name was retired and four new companies were launched to continue the family’s legacy.

The Rama family has given back generously in India by building a school, a water purification plant, and 200 homes for the underprivileged in their native village of Sarona. They also have contributed to the design and development of a children’s park and an eye hospital in the region.

In America, they endowed “The Rama Scholarship for the American Dream” with a gift of $1,000,000 which provides tuition assistance to college students attending hospitality school.

The family’s commitment to education continues in India, where Auro Hotels built and operates Auro University in Surat, a private university that is now known as one of the top MBA colleges in India.

While AAHOA is deeply saddened by this news, we know that his memory and contributions to this association and beyond will forever be a blessing.

We thank JP for his significant contributions to our industry and the lasting impact he’ll have on the many lives he’s touched throughout his life. We are thinking of JP’s family, friends, and everyone who loved him during this difficult time.”

AAHOA is the largest hotel owners association in the nation, with Member-owned properties representing a significant part of the U.S. economy. AAHOA’s 20,000 members own 60% of the hotels in the United States and are responsible for 1.7% of the nation’s GDP. More than one million employees work at AAHOA member-owned hotels, earning $47 billion annually, and member-owned hotels support 4.2 million U.S. jobs across all sectors of the hospitality industry. AAHOA’s mission is to advance and protect the business interests of hotel owners through advocacy, industry leadership, professional development, member benefits, and community engagement

U.S. Hotel Demand And ADR Will Near Full Recovery In 2022

U.S. hotel demand as well as average daily rate (ADR) on a nominal basis will near full recovery in 2022, according to the upgraded forecast just released by STR and Tourism Economics at the 43rd Annual NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference. Additionally, revenue per available room (RevPAR) on a nominal basis is projected to be fully recovered in 2023.

“We have essentially moved up the top-line recovery timeline by one year, with the caveat that improved RevPAR projections are largely due to ADR,” said Amanda Hite, STR’s president. “ADR has risen more rapidly than we expected—in some cases, that rise was due to strong demand confronting capacity constraints, which enabled solid revenue management, while in other cases, the rise was more influenced by inflation. When adjusted for inflation, RevPAR is further off the pace and will likely remain below 2019 levels until at least 2025. Other than the first quarter of 2021, demand has mostly adhered to the forecast with strong leisure travel, slowly improving group business and an expected progressive increase in international arrivals next year. Of course, these are all national projections of top-line performance. Recovery is not playing out the same across the marketplace, and as noted in our latest monthly P&L release, the cost of labor is adding pressure on the bottom line, which is a contributing factor to many hotels driving rate. Recovery is progressing at a solid rate no doubt, but there will still be plenty of ups and downs along the way.”

“Travel activity entered the fall with strong momentum. With improving public health conditions and sustained economic recovery, additional business and group travelers are expected to join leisure travelers, supporting further gains next year,” said Aran Ryan, Tourism Economics director. “The demand recovery, coupled with successful revenue management, has supported resilient hotel pricing, helping shorten the time it will take to recover 2019 revenue levels.”

STR provides premium data benchmarking, analytics and marketplace insights for the global hospitality industry. Founded in 1985, STR maintains a presence in 15 countries with a corporate North American headquarters in Hendersonville, Tennessee, an international headquarters in London, and an Asia Pacific headquarters in Singapore. STR was acquired in October 2019 by CoStar Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: CSGP), the leading provider of commercial real estate information, analytics and online marketplaces. For more information, please visit str.com and costargroup.com.

Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company, focuses on the intersection of the economy and travel sector, providing actionable insights to our clients. We provide our worldwide client base with direct access to the most comprehensive set of historic and forecast travel data available. And our team of specialist economists develops custom economic impact studies, policy analysis, and forecast models.

India Opens To Vaccinated Foreign Tourists After 18 Months

India began on Monday, November 15th allowing fully vaccinated foreign tourists to enter the country on regular commercial flights, in the latest easing of coronavirus restrictions as infections fall and vaccinations rise.

Tourists entering India must be fully vaccinated, follow all COVID-19 protocols and test negative for the virus within 72 hours of their flight, according to the health ministry. Many will also need to undergo a post-arrival COVID-19 test at the airport.

However, travelers from countries which have agreements with India for mutual recognition of vaccination certificates, such as the U.S., U.K. and many European nations, can leave the airport without undergoing a COVID-19 test.

This is the first time India has allowed foreign tourists on commercial flights to enter the country since March 2020, when it imposed one of the toughest lockdowns in the world in an attempt to contain the pandemic. Fully vaccinated tourists on chartered flights were allowed to enter starting last month.

It comes as coronavirus infections have fallen significantly, with daily new cases hovering at just above 10,000 for over a month.

To encourage travelers to visit India, the government plans to issue 500,000 free visas through next March. The moves are expected to boost the tourism and hospitality sector which was battered by the pandemic.

“The pandemic devastated the industry but things will return to normal once foreign tourists start to arrive,” said Jyoti Mayal, President of the Travel Agents Association of India.

Mayal said coastal states like Kerala and Goa in the country’s south and Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh in the Himalayan north are already witnessing a surge in domestic tourists. All four states are heavily dependent on earnings from tourism, and Mayal said foreign travelers scheduling their visits there would also help lift the local economy.

“Tourism is a very resilient industry and the upcoming season looks very promising. We are hopeful of generating more jobs than we lost during the pandemic,” she said.

With more than 35 million reported coronavirus infections, India is the second-worst-hit country after the U.S. Active coronavirus cases stand at 134,096, the lowest in 17 months, according to the health ministry.

Nearly 79% of India’s adult population has received at least one vaccine dose while 38% is fully vaccinated. The federal government has asked state administrations to conduct door-to-door campaigns to accelerate the vaccine campaign.

Fewer than 3 million foreign tourists visited India in 2020, a drop of more than 75% from 2019, when tourism brought nearly $30 billion in earnings.

Akshaya Patra USA Board Members on Philanthropy, Innovation and More on Chai With Manju

Akshaya Patra is the world’s largest non-governmental organization (NGO) or not-for-profit organization school meal program, providing hot, nutritious lunches to over 1.8 million children in 19,257 schools across India daily.

Akshaya Patra’s US arm, Akshaya Patra USA, engages thousands of volunteers and donors in the United States to raise funds and awareness in support of the foundation’s mission.

In an exclusive video interview on Chai With Manju, members of the Board of the Akshaya Patra USA, talk about why have assumed leadership roles Akshaya Patra USA, what are their expertise that helps in the growth of the organization and its future plans. They include Desh Deshpande, Chairman Emeritus; Siva Sivaram, Chairman; Srivatsan Rajan, Vice Chairman; Rajiv Jain, Interim CEO; Dr Rachna Kulkarni, BV Jagadeesh  and Roopa Makhija. Prominent among those ionterviwed by Dr. Seth include: Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, Chairman Emeritus; Siva Sivaram, Board Chairman; Srivatsan Rajan, Vice Chairman; Rajiv Jain, Interim CEO; Dr. Rachana Kulkarni, MD, Board Member; Roopa Makhija, Board Member; and, B.V. Jagadeesh, Board Member.To watch the full interview, please click here, or on the image below.

AAHOA Members Own 60 Percent Of Hotel Properties In US

AAHOA, the nation’s largest hotel owners association, announced the state-by-state economic impact results of the study conducted this year in partnership with Oxford Economics, an international leader in global forecasting and quantitative analysis.

The initial report, unveiled at the 2021 AAHOA Convention & Trade Show in Dallas, Texas, revealed that the association’s nearly 20,000 hoteliers own 34,260 hotel properties, which account for 60 percent of the hotels in the United States. These properties have 3.1 million guestrooms and account for 2.2 million direct-impact jobs. The state-level reports highlight key data points such as the annual economic impact that AAHOA Member-owned properties have in each state, labor and job impacts, guest spending, member purchases from other businesses, annual capital investments, and much more.

“The state-level economic impact reports show just how significant the contributions of the hospitality industry and, specifically, AAHOA Members are to their local economies. These reports are instrumental to our state and local advocacy efforts as we work with elected officials to speed up the economic recovery,” AAHOA President & CEO Ken Greene said.

“Our members are one of the best resources for policymakers when it comes to understanding issues facing hoteliers, franchisees, and small business owners. We are here to help our lawmakers create good public policy that will make it less challenging for businesses along the road to recovery and help get people back into the workforce with good-paying jobs and career trajectories.” The state-by-state reports and the comprehensive economic impact study are now available through a new portal on the AAHOA website.

“AAHOA Members own 60 percent of hotel properties in the country, but when you dial down into specific states, the numbers are even more impressive,” AAHOA Chair Vinay Patel said. “For example, AAHOA Members own nearly 90 percent of all hotel properties in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas. That represents hundreds of thousands of direct-impact jobs and billions of dollars in wages, tax revenues, and GDP contributions. Being able to quantify that economic impact for lawmakers, brands, vendors, and journalists will open up all new avenues for us to educate and engage.”

AAHOA is the largest hotel owners association in the world. The nearly 20,000 AAHOA members own 60 percent of the hotels in the United States. AAHOA Members are responsible for 1.7 percent of the nation’s GDP. With billions of dollars in property assets and over one million employees, AAHOA members are core economic contributors in communities across the United States.

Marriott International Expands In South Asia

On the heels of the 16th Hotel Investment Conference — South Asia (HICSA 2021), Marriott International, announced it has signed 22 new hotel agreements in South Asia — comprising India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Nepal — in the past 18 months, expecting to add more than 2,700 rooms to its fast-growing portfolio. It is currently the hotel chain with the largest number of rooms in the South Asia region and expects to continue its solid growth with these new signings.

“In a highly unpredictable year, these signings are a testament to Marriott International’s resilience and agility in driving strong growth within a hospitality landscape that continues to evolve,” commented Rajeev Menon — President Asia Pacific (excluding Greater China), Marriott International. “It is a sign of confidence from our owners and franchisees who have been an integral part of our growth journey. We are grateful for their continued support and trust in the power of our brands as we continue to welcome back travellers.”

“These signings reinforce our commitment to South Asia as a high potential region where we continue to grow and engage with an expanding customer base by introducing more of Marriott’s brands and unique experiences in exciting destinations,” emphasized Kiran Andicot — Regional Vice President Development, South Asia, Marriott International. “We look forward to the opening of these new hotels in the future and to exploring future development opportunities throughout the region.”

Owner Desire for Luxury Brands

More than a third of the newly signed projects in South Asia in the last 18 months include hotels and resorts in the luxury tier, comprised of brands such as JW Marriott and W Hotels. This reflects travellers’ growing demand for bespoke and superb amenities and services. Travellers can anticipate the debut of the W Hotels brand in Jaipur with W Jaipur in 2024. Once opened, the hotel expects to disrupt the norms of traditional luxury with its iconic service, infectious energy, and innovative experiences. Rooted in holistic well-being, JW Marriott properties offer a haven designed to allow guests to focus on feeling whole — present in mind, nourished in body, and revitalized in spirit.

Expecting to debut across several distinctive locations within South Asia over the next five years, travelers can look forward to JW Marriott Ranthambore Resort & Spa located at one of India’s most prominent wildlife sanctuaries, The Ranthambore National Park; JW Marriott Chennai ECR Resort & Spa on India’s beautiful southern coastline; JW Marriott Agra Resort & Spa in the land of the Taj Mahal; and the debut of the JW Marriott brand in Goa and Shimla — two of India’s most famous resort destinations — with JW Marriott Goa and JW Marriott Shimla Resort & Spa.

JW Marriott Hotel Bhutan, Thimphu, is expected to mark the debut of the JW Marriott brand in Bhutan, is anticipated to open in 2025 and offer curated experiences that celebrate the peaceful spirit of the land.

Maldives anticipates its second JW Marriott hotel in 2025, when the JW Marriott Resort & Spa, Embhoodhoo Finolhu — South Male Atoll featuring 80 pool villas is expected to open. The signing follows the newly opened The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands, strengthening Marriott’s footprint on the famed leisure destination. (IANS)

Ken Greene Named As President & CEO Of AAHOA

Following a unanimous vote by the AAHOA Board of Directors, Ken Greene is the new President & CEO. Greene has been serving in that role on an interim basis since June.  “AAHOA has been a part of my life for years, so when the opportunity came up to become Interim President and CEO, it was an easy decision to make,” said AAHOA President & CEO Ken Greene. “These last few months have exceeded my expectations, and I’m looking forward to continuing to build relationships with our Officers, Board, Members, and Industry Partners.”

During his interim period, Greene oversaw the association’s return to in-person events with the 2021 AAHOA Convention & Trade Show in Dallas, Texas. The convention, which drew more than 6,000 attendees, was the first such event in the city since the start of the pandemic.

“As a former brand executive in the hospitality industry, Ken has significant experience working with AAHOA Members and a solid understanding of what hoteliers need,” said AAHOA Chair Vinay Patel. “He knows what drives our Members and how our association can assist them as the industry recovers.”

Prior to joining AAHOA, Ken served as a global leader of many iconic hotel brands, including President, Americas for Radisson Hotel Group, President & CEO for Delta Hotels and Resorts, and in various roles at Cendant Corporation, Wyndham Worldwide, and many of its divisions. Ken also recently founded Greenehouse Consulting, which focuses on acquisitions, management, and advisory services to the hospitality industry.

“I want to give a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has called, texted, and posted on social media, etc. Your well wishes and congratulations mean so much to me, and I am excited to be dropping the interim title to officially become President & CEO of AAHOA,” Greene said in a message.

“AAHOA is such an amazing association for owners and that is a huge part of why I am so thrilled to become President & CEO. I’ve worked with AAHOA Members for much of my career and knowing how much AAHOA does for hoteliers and the industry, I am truly honored to accept this position and help lead the organization into the future. We are Team AAHOA, and we have so much more to accomplish together,” Greene added.

AAHOA is the largest hotel owners association in the world. The nearly 20,000 AAHOA members own 60 percent of the hotels in the United States. AAHOA Members are responsible for 1.7 percent of the nation’s GDP. With billions of dollars in property assets and over one million employees, AAHOA members are core economic contributors in communities across the United States.

AAHOA Welcomes New EIDL Enhancements

America’s hoteliers welcomed the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) announcement of a much-needed expansion of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program that will provide small business owners with additional resources as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to hinder the nation’s economic recovery. For the past several months, AAHOA advocated with the Biden administration

Since the start of the pandemic, AAHOA worked with the SBA, key congressional committees, and individual Members of Congress to advocate for more relief when it comes to an increase in EIDL caps and parity between the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and EIDL with regards to a waiver of the affiliation rules. The EIDL program provides economic relief to small businesses and nonprofit organizations that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. These loans help businesses cover financial obligations and operating expenses they otherwise would have met if not for a disaster.

The EIDL enhancements announced by SBA include:

Raising the threshold up to $2 million per property

Raising the aggregate loan cap up to $10 million

A waiver of affiliation rules (permits assistance at multiple properties)

A waiver of the credit-elsewhere requirement

Priority for NAICS Code 72 businesses

A 30-year fixed amortization period with a low 3.75% interest rate

Funds can now be used to pay down prior commercial debt and make monthly payments toward federal debt (including principal and interest payments) “This is a significant achievement for the lodging industry and small businesses across the country,” said AAHOA Chair Vinay Patel. “The lodging sector is not projected to recover until late 2023 or early 2024, but the continued spread of the Delta variant is stalling the economic recovery. These changes to the EIDL program will free up additional resources for small businesses that are still struggling.”

“We applaud President Biden and SBA Administrator Guzman for taking these critical steps to strengthen small businesses and protect the foundations of our economy,” said AAHOA Interim President & CEO Ken Greene. “From the jobs they create to the businesses they support, hotels are economic engines in communities across the nation. These EIDL enhancements will ensure that hoteliers can keep the lights on and continue to welcome guests as we work towards recovery.”

Tomorrow, September 10, at 1:00 PM EDT, AAHOA will host a webinar about the updates to the EIDL program. A panel of SBA officials will discuss the changes and field questions from participants. To register for the webinar, click here.

AAHOA is the largest hotel owners association in the world. The nearly 20,000 AAHOA Members own 60 percent of hotels in the United States. With billions of dollars in property assets and over one million employees, AAHOA Members are core economic contributors in virtually every community. AAHOA is a proud defender of free enterprise and the foremost current-day example of realizing the American dream.

AAHOA Applauds Biden Administration & SBA On New Enhancements To The EIDL Program

AAHOA’s enhanced advocacy and education efforts are continuing to help AAHOA Members and the industry get back on track. The Small Business Administration (SBA) just announced more help is on the way for the hotel industry. Over the past several months, AAHOA has worked with the SBA and the Biden Administration to advocate for expansion and improvement of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, and the SBA heard AAHOA and our Members loud and clear that help is still needed.

The announcement of the program’s changes and improvements represent a significant step toward meaningful and tangible COVID-19 relief and our industry.

The EIDL program provides economic relief to small businesses and nonprofit organizations that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. These loans help businesses meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred.

For months, AAHOA has worked with the SBA, the Small Business Committees, and Members of Congress to push for more relief when it comes to an increase in EIDL caps and parity between the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and EIDL with regards to a waiver of the affiliation rules. This week, AAHOA cohosted a webinar with the SBA to walk through the soon-to-be-announced revisions to the EIDL program that mirror AAHOA’s asks – a huge win for our nearly 20,000 Members and the industry at large.

The expected enhancements and expansion of the EIDL program include:

  • Raising the threshold up to $2 million per property
  • Raising the aggregate loan cap up to $10 million
  • A waiver of affiliation rules (that mirrors that of the Paycheck Protection Program)
  • A waiver of the credit-elsewhere requirement
  • Priority for NAICS Code 72 businesses
  • A 30-year fixed amortization period with a low 3.75% interest rate
  • Funds can now be used to pay down prior commercial debt and make monthly payments towards federal debt (including principal and interest payments)

It is anticipated that SBA will officially announce and begin accepting new applications and increase requests for existing EIDL holders as soon as next week. Hoteliers who are interested in applying for a loan can review EIDL FAQ here, and more information on how to apply here. Note that AAHOA will keep hoteliers informed on updated documents to reflect the expanded program.

“AAHOA applauds the Biden Administration and the SBA for their work in making the EIDL program more accessible and helpful for America’s hoteliers,” said AAHOA Interim President & CEO Ken Greene. “The EIDL program’s enhancements break down barriers for hoteliers to access critical funds that are needed as hoteliers still struggle to deal with the ramifications of the pandemic.”

AAHOA recently hosted the 2021 AAHOA Convention & Trade Show, which was the first major convention in Dallas since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re grateful for SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, who addressed attendees and highlighted the importance of small businesses getting back on their feet to help our economy.

“Coming together as an industry is paramount to economic recovery, especially as new variants threaten to inhibit the reopening of the country,” said AAHOA Chair Vinay Patel. “Industry estimates continue to project a full recovery some time in late 2023 or 2024, and until then, AAHOA is committed to continuing its advocacy efforts and outreach to the Biden Administration and lawmakers as we lead the way on the road to recovery.”

AAHOA is the largest hotel owners association in the world. The nearly 20,000 AAHOA Members own 60 percent of hotels in the United States. With billions of dollars in property assets and over one million employees, AAHOA Members are core economic contributors in virtually every community. AAHOA is a proud defender of free enterprise and the foremost current-day example of realizing the American dream.

Vinay Patel Takes Charge As AAHOA Chairman

Virginia hotelier Vinay Patel is the new Chair of AAHOA’s Board of  Directors. Patel became chair at the conclusion of the 2021 AAHOA Convention & Trade Show , which was the first major convention in Dallas since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The  convention was held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. “Serving America’s hotel owners as the AAHOA Chair is an honor, and I look forward to working  with AAHOA’s nearly 20,000 members on the road to recovery,” Patel said. “Industry estimates continue to project a full recovery some time in late 2023 or 2024.

Coming together as an industry is  paramount to economic recovery, especially as new variants threaten to inhibit the reopening of America. I am confident that AAHOA’s enhanced advocacy and education efforts as well as the  implementation of our new strategic plan will help our industry get back on track.” Patel plans to focus on elevating the association’s advocacy and engagement at the state and local  level including coordinating political education efforts with the American Hospitality Alliance.

“We  must be united in our advocacy efforts, especially as we engage with local governments,” Patel said.  “I am also committed to broadening our outreach to lawmakers who have not necessarily engaged on  the issues we champion. Building a broad coalition that supports small businesses and their  employees will help draw more attention to why issues such as 1031 like-kind exchanges and the  Save Hotel Jobs Act are so important to rebuilding our economy with new, good-paying jobs.”

In his inaugural address, Patel highlighted the importance of the industry’s collective efforts to keep  the lights on during the pandemic as well as the necessity of remaining optimistic about the recovery  and efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. “We are in uncharted territory as a country as we  emerge from this crisis. In a way, we are all letting our eyes adjust to the sunlight after spending  more than a year in the darkness. It will be challenging. It will be frustrating. But AAHOA is here to  help guide us as we rebuild, reinvest, and recover.”

Patel joined AAHOA in 1993 and has served on its board since 2014. AAHOA members elected him  as Secretary in 2018. He is the President of Fairbrook Hotels which owns and operates eleven  properties including IHG, Hilton, Radisson, Choice, and Wyndham brands. Patel also serves on the  Board of Directors for the Virginia Hospitality and Tourism Association and is the president of the  Herndon Hospitality Association. “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Vinay prior to joining AAHOA, and he truly embodies the  characteristics, qualities, and values that make a great Chairman,” AAHOA Interim President & CEO  Ken Greene said. “I have seen him in action as a property owner and as Vice Chair of AAHOA, and I  couldn’t be more excited to work with him now as the Chair. As we continue to lead AAHOA into its  next chapter, I am certain his leadership, commitment, and enthusiasm will play a pivotal role in  AAHOA’s future success.”

Miraj S. Patel, MBA, CHO, CHIA of Houston, Texas, is the new  AAHOA Secretary. Patel is the President of the Houston-based Wayside Investment Group. AAHOA members also elected the following twelve members to the Board of Directors:

Female Director Western Division: Tejal N. Patel, CHIA, CHO
Gulf Regional Director: Vimal Patel
Mid Atlantic Regional Director: Mahendra (MZ) Patel
Mid South Regional Director: Harikrishna (HK) Patel
North Pacific Regional Director: KP Patel
Northeast Regional Director: Sunil (Sunny) Patel CHO, CHIA
South Carolina Regional Director: Fenil Desai
South Central Texas Regional Director: Kiran (Kevin) Patel
Southeast Texas Regional Director: Ailesh Mulji
Southwest Regional Director: Dharmesh Ahir
South Pacific Regional Director: Mike Riverside CHA, CHO
Upper Midwest Regional Director: Mehul (Mike) Patel

“Congratulations to our new AAHOA Secretary and all of our newly elected board members. It
is encouraging to see so many members volunteering to serve America’s hotel owners. I look
forward to working with new AAHOA Chair Vinay Patel, the board officers, our board of
directors, and the entire AAHOA team as we assist the hospitality industry on the road to
recovery. AAHOA’s value and resources have never been more apparent as we work tirelessly to
reopen our economy and ensure that our communities are prepared to welcome back guests as
the nation starts to travel again,” said AAHOA Interim President & CEO Ken Greene.

AAHOA is the largest hotel owners association in the world. The nearly 20,000 AAHOA Members own 60  percent of hotels in the United States. With billions of dollars in property assets and over one million  employees, AAHOA Members are core economic contributors in virtually every community. AAHOA is a  proud defender of free enterprise and the foremost current-day example of realizing the American dream.

New York’s Michelin Star Indian Restaurant, Junoon Reopens With Cleaner Air And Safer Dining Experience

In an effort NOT to have to shut their doors again after a year-long closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NYC’s Michelin Star Indian restaurant, Junoon, has taken some radical measures to ensure the safety of their guests. Having reopened last month with a new look, new concept and the same team, the restaurant has invested the same passion into their dining room as they do in their dining experience — by installing ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) units made by Sufi Robotics, a leading manufacturer of tested and researched UV equipment, to purify the air around the building. Adding ultraviolet air purification devices to an existing HVAC system provides a high return on investment, while destroying 99.9% of the viruses, bacteria and other pathogens by disinfecting the air as it circulates through the ventilation system.

UVGI technology uses UVC light to naturally clean air and surfaces without harmful and harsh chemicals. Although not a new technology, UV sanitization has renewed interest because it is a “green” solution. Sufi Robotics Air+Surface UVGI technology has been used in countless buildings with a full range of systems in place. In the past six months, schools, colleges restaurants, hotels and event venues, from Lincoln Center to the Refinery Hotel to Kearny Bank to the County of Gloucester, have made their environment healthier and more sustainable through UGVI and other CDC, EPA, FDA-approved, N-list applicable, organic solutions provided by Sufi Robotics.

Junoon is a contemporary restaurant offering dining experiences to satisfy all aspects of fine cuisine: wine selection, service, ambiance, and atmosphere. Earning both a Michelin star and a Wine Spectator Best Award of Excellence for eight consecutive years since opening in 2010. Our menu reflects the diversity of India, steeped in the classics while offering deft touches of modernity. Our wine programs are constructed to pique the interest of the novice yet be alluring to the enthusiast and to focus on regions that best compliment our cuisine. Our service style emphasizes hospitality with knowledgeable, technically proficient staff who are present yet unobtrusive. The result is a vibrant and trendsetting scene, full of energy and sophistication. Junoon is a place of gathering, a place of celebration, a place for business, and a place for pleasure.

Sufi Robotics is an industry leader in air and surface disinfection using UVC light technology and List N compatible devices to help mitigate risk from bacteria, viruses and germs.  UVC light is a “green” alternative, offering a natural solution for disinfection, and has been used in a variety of applications such as food, air and water purification since the mid-20th century. Sufi Robotics is responding to the demand for sanitation because health and safety, previously taken for granted, are now top-of-mind for everyone, thus providing a solution to challenges impeding the resumption of normal activities. For more on Sufi Robotics, a certified, woman and minority-owned business, please visit www.sufirobotics.com.

Taj Hotel In Mumbai Named Strongest Hotel Brand In The World

People who experienced Taj Hotels hospitality have always recommended it as a must-visit, at least once.  It is, after all, one of the world’s most lavish hotel chains offered by the Indian Hotels Company (IHCL), South Asia’s largest hospitality company. Now, its quality and hospitality have been acknowledged at the international level as Taj has been rated the Strongest Hotel Brand in the World by Brand Finance. The Taj has been rated as the ‘Strongest Hotel Brand in the World’ by Brand Finance, a leading brand rating consultancy. The hotel is part of Indian Hotels Company Ltd (IHCL)—the largest hospitality group in South Asia, with 221 hotels in its portfolio. The latest ranking is part of the Brand Finance’s ‘Hotels 50 2021’ annual report, which ranks hotels across the world on brand value. Taj

Taj received an overall Brand Strength Index of 89.3 out of 100, with a corresponding AAA rating for customer familiarity, employee satisfaction and corporate reputation as well as its world-class customer service.Renowned for its world-class customer service, the luxury hotel chain scores very well in our Global Brand Equity Monitor for consideration, familiarity, recommendation, and reputation especially across its home market of India,” the report says. The report also focused on Taj’s R.E.S.E.T 2020 strategy that enabled the brand to effectively deal with pandemic-related issues.

A series of steps taken by Taj contributed to the brand’s re-entrance into the Brand Finance ranking for the first time since 2016 in 38th spot on its ‘Top 50 most-valued brands’ list In a major boost to the Indian hospitality industry, Indian Hotels Company’s (IHC’s) iconic brand Taj was named the ‘Strongest Hotel Brand in the world’ by brand valuation consultancy Brand Finance in its annual ‘’Hotels 50 2021′ report. Taj scored an overall Brand Strength Index of 89.3 out of 100, with a corresponding top rating for ‘customer familiarity, employee satisfaction and corporate reputation as well as its world-class customer service’, according to the Brand Finance report.

PuneetChhatwal, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Indian Hotels Company, said, “This is a proud moment for the Indian hospitality industry on the global stage. Taj being rated as the World’s Strongest Hotel Brand is a testament to the unwavering trust our guests have consistently placed in us and the warmth and sincere care our employees have embodied day-after-day”. In addition to measuring overall brand value, Brand Finance said it also evaluates the relative strength of brands, based on factors such as marketing investment, customer familiarity, staff satisfaction, and corporate reputation. According to these criteria, Taj with a brand value of $296 million, is the world’s strongest hotel brand, with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 89.3 out of 100 and a corresponding ‘AAA’ brand strength rating.

Taj luxury hotel chain scored very well on Brand Finance’s ‘Global Brand Equity Monitor’ for consideration, familiarity, recommendation, and reputation especially across its home market of India. Taj’s successful implementation of its 5-year plan – which focuses on selling non-core assets, becoming less ownership driven and reducing dependence on the luxury space – followed by the speedy adoption of its new R.E.S.E.T 2020 strategy, which provides a transformative framework to help the brand overcome the challenge of the pandemic, has contributed to the brand’s re-entrance into the ranking for the first time since 2016 in 38th spot, the Brand Finance report added.

Motel Owner Zeshan Chaudhry Murdered In CT Over Argument About $10 Pool Pass

The owner of a motel was shot and killed Sunday, June 27th during an argument with a guest over a pool pass, according to an arrest affidavit. The shooting happened at the Motel 6 on Hartford Turnpike around 4 p.m., authorities said. Police said 30-year-old Zeshan Chaudhry of Vernon, was shot multiple times. He was transported to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. The suspect has been identified as 31-year-old Alvin Waugh, of Hartford. Waugh and his girlfriend had been staying at the motel for about a month, according to court documents.

Waugh’s girlfriend told police she asked Chaudhry about using the pool and began arguing with him after he told her she would have to pay $10 for a pool pass. Waugh joined the argument and at one point Chaudhry kicked the couple out of the motel and told the staff to lock them out of their room, according to the documents. While police were at the motel, Waugh called his girlfriend and talked to officers, saying he wanted to turn himself in. Police took him into custody and found the gun in a body of water where Waugh told them he tossed it, according to the court documents. According to officials, the gun was homemade.

Police said the shooting was captured on surveillance camera and it was revealed in court that there were multiple eyewitnesses. Once under arrest, police said Waugh confessed to the killing, according to the arrest affidavit. Interim AAHOA President and CEO, Ken Greene, issued the following statement in response to the murder over motel owner, Zeshan Chaudhry, of Vernon, Conn.:“A life taken over a $10 pool pass dispute. When will the violence end? America’s hotel owners are shocked and outraged by this senseless act of violence against a small business owner simply doing his job. The Vernon Motel 6 owner, Zeshan Chaudhry, was only 30 years old when he was shot multiple times on Sunday. He had a long life ahead of him, and we offer our deepest sympathies to his family, and our community is mourning with them today. Hate has no place in our Members’ hotels, or in any hotels.

In statement issued, AAHOA pointed out that, “there has been a rise in attacks against hoteliers and an increase in anti-Asian xenophobia during the pandemic. This murder is another statistic added to the unfathomable and growing list of violent crimes. It must stop now. “Hoteliers have already been through a very stressful year and a half dealing with the setbacks of the COVID-19 pandemic. These types of crimes add another layer of unnecessary anxiety and stress. Every hotelier knows that something like this could happen to them at any time.

“Another motel employee told the local news outlets Zeshan was all about the customers, trying to give them a better experience in the hotel. This statement holds true for most hotel owners, for service to others defines the spirit of hospitality.No one should ever feel threatened at work. For trying to make a living. And over a pool pass? It is unacceptable.We are confident that Connecticut authorities will help the Chaudhry family find justice.”

E.U. Clears Americans For Travel To Europe

Lawmakers in the European Union have agreed to lift a travel ban on Americans that has been in place since early 2020. U.S. tourists can travel to Europe this summer, European Union lawmakers in Brussels said on Wednesday. The officials agreed to recommend E.U. member states lift travel restrictions that have been in place for Americans since early 2020. The region will also add the United States to its list of ‘safe’ countries for tourism, alongside the new additions of North Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, Lebanon, and Taiwan also earning the status. Both changes are expected to become official on Friday, according to a spokesperson for the European Council.

Some European nations, including Greece and France, already allow Americans to enter their borders, albeit with testing and/or vaccination requirements in place. But the E.U. giving its blessing for all nations across the bloc to permit American travelers is a significant milestone in the broader reopening of travel between the U.S. and Europe. For the first time in over a year, travelers from the U.S. may be permitted to more freely travel around the bloc, although subject to individual country entry requirements.

While the E.U. recommendation is not contingent on travelers being vaccinated, exact entry requirements will be at the discretion of individual countries, which can require (and some already are) a negative COVID-19 test and/or full vaccination. In May, the region’s leaders said they planned to open to Americans this summer because all coronavirus vaccines in use in the U.S. (Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson) are approved for use by Europe’s health officials. The E.U. Council’s recommendation is that nations should allow travelers who are either “[fully] vaccinated with an E.U.-approved vaccine” or are an essential traveler.

The list of countries considered ‘safe’ by the E.U. is revised every two weeks, and currently does not include the United Kingdom, which this week delayed its final phase of reopening by one month due to the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, despite 57 percent of the U.K. population being fully vaccinated. The criteria for a nation to be considered ‘safe’ is that there are “not more than 75 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the previous 14 days,” along with other testing and positive-case-rate standards, and “overall response to COVID-19.”

Member states can halt travel at any time via an “emergency brake” established by European leaders as part of its tourism reopening. That plan relies on a digital health pass that rolled out this month in 13 E.U. nations. The pass, called a Green Certificate, will be available for use in all E.U. states on July 1. It confirms COVID-19 vaccination, test, and/or recovery; it is free to use and acceptable in both paper and digital formats via QR code.

Member states already allowing Americans are requiring an array of differing entry requirements, prompting travel agents to warn those considering a trip to double and triple check they meet the rules. France, for example, is only allowing vaccinated Americans who confirm their status via health form, while Greece is allowing Americans regardless of vaccination status if they test negative for COVID-19. Other nations are more complicated: Italy, for example, is only permitting entry via COVID-tested flights from 10 U.S. airports (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, JFK, Newark, Philadelphia, and D.C.), all of which require proof of a PCR test taken 48 hours before travel; a Digital Passenger Form, health self-declaration, and rapid test upon arrival are also mandated. Travelers who don’t meet all Italy’s requirements are subject to a 10-day quarantine.

AAHOA Names Ken Greene Interim President & CEO

In the wake of its recent announcement of a leadership transition, AAHOA has announced that it has appointed hotel industry veteran Ken Greene to serve as Interim President & CEO. Ken is a well-known and highly respected industry veteran who is well-suited to lead AAHOA during the organization’s leadership transition. The Board’s selection of Ken as AAHOA Interim President & CEO reflects the group’s trust and utmost confidence that he can carry the organization forward as the industry continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Ken is eager to continue to execute upon the Association’s 2021-2023 Strategic Plan and serve alongside AAHOA’s Board and staff to continue its forward-thinking vision to be the foremost resource and advocate for America’s hotel owners.

During each chapter of Ken’s career, he’s been involved with AAHOA, its members, and industry partners. Prior to joining AAHOA, Ken served as a global leader of many iconic hotel brands, including President, Americas for Radisson Hotel Group, President & CEO for Delta Hotels and Resorts, and in various roles at Cendant Corporation, Wyndham Worldwide, and many of its divisions. Ken also recently founded Greenehouse Consulting, which focuses on acquisitions, management, and advisory services to the hospitality industry.

Ken has a deep understanding of and appreciation for the hotel industry and has many long-standing relationships that are well-suited to guide AAHOA during this leadership transition period. Ken also has served on and led several industry-related boards, providing and contributing to strategic direction in a number of capacities.“Ken will be leading the Association in an interim capacity during a critical time for AAHOA Members and the hotel industry,” AAHOA Chairman Biran Patel said. “We are confident his experience, relationships, and extensive knowledge and appreciation of the industry are the perfect fit to serve in this capacity as AAHOA Members continue down the road to recovery.”

AAHOA had announced earlier that Cecil P. Staton was stepping down as President & CEO.  Staton will continue to work with AAHOA’s leadership to ensure an effective transition and the success of ongoing projects and relationships as a consultant.“On behalf of America’s hoteliers, we thank Cecil for his service to AAHOA,” AAHOA Chairman Biran Patel said. “For more than a year, hoteliers faced immense pressure as the COVID-19 pandemic brought a period of decade-long prosperity to a grinding halt. Cecil proved to be a steady hand, leading and guiding the association to record member engagement through this turbulent year. His leadership in the development of our Strategic Plan will have a lasting, positive impact upon the association.”

“I’m grateful to have led this organization through one of the hardest times in our industry’s and association’s history through our concentrated efforts related to COVID-19 support and relief and for making a difference in the lives of so many hoteliers,” Staton said. “AAHOA has the most dedicated team with whom I’ve had the privilege to work, and I’ve been impressed with their commitment to excellence from the moment I joined this great organization. Our work to develop AAHOA’s new Strategic Plan holds the promise to propel the association forward toward its fullest potential.” AAHOA Executive Vice President & COO Rachel Humphrey announced that she also will be exiting the association on August 7.

“AAHOA’s nearly 20,000 members represent the heart and soul of America’s hospitality industry and I am eager to step into this role, working alongside the hotel owners who drive our industry forward each and every day,” Ken said. “As our industry recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a critical time for owners and America’s tourism industry, and I’m looking forward to bringing my extensive experience to the organization to help propel America’s hotel industry forward on the path to recovery.”

Over the course of Ken’s career, he’s had the opportunity to personally get to know and form relationships with many of AAHOA’s Members. Ken is well-positioned to build on AAHOA’s strong foundation as the organization carries out its vision of being the foremost resource and advocate for America’s hotel owners during this critical time in the industry’s recovery.“We are confident Ken will bring the passion, dedication, knowledge, and insight he has exhibited in all of his prior roles within the industry to AAHOA and its members,” Patel said. “Please join us in congratulating and welcoming Ken in his new position as AAHOA Interim President & CEO.”

“AAHOA is a strong organization led by exceptional teams,” Patel said. “Our dedicated Board of Directors, Executive Leadership Team, and professional staff will continue to lead AAHOA into the future. AAHOA’s work on behalf of our members will continue to be guided by our Strategic Plan, which will carry the association’s strategy into 2023 and leave a lasting impact for many years to come.”

AAHOA has accomplished remarkable work on behalf of its members during what has been one of the worst times in our industry’s history – and the work never stops. AAHOA is well-positioned to continue its work to fulfill its vision and the ambitious goals set forth in the Strategic Plan.  The organization is in the process of conducting a comprehensive search process to identify new leadership that will continue to help guide America’s hoteliers on the road to recovery.

About AAHOA

AAHOA is the largest hotel owners association in the world. The nearly 20,000 AAHOA members represent over half the hotels in the United States. With billions of dollars in property assets and hundreds of thousands of employees, AAHOA members are core economic contributors in virtually every community. AAHOA is a proud defender of free enterprise and the foremost current-day example of realizing the American dream.

America’s Hoteliers Come Together for India COVID Relief

America’s hotel owners are coming together to support COVID relief in India as a new wave of infections spreads throughout the country. AAHOA donated $100,000 to LPS of USA, Tiny Smiling Faces (DalubhaiGoaplbhai Patel Fund), and Bavaji Charities in support of the charities’ ongoing COVID relief efforts in the subcontinent.

“Throughout the past year, AAHOA and AAHOA Members made valuable contributions in their communities by donating personal protective equipment, providing meals to those in need, housing at-risk populations, and supporting local charities,” AAHOA Chairman Biran Patel said. “Many in our industry have strong family and business ties to India, and we are increasingly worried about the crisis the country is facing with the spread of COVID-19. That is why AAHOA donated $100,000 to groups working to stop the spread and help those in need.”

“Our industry and our communities continue to struggle from the economic fallout of the pandemic, but we can see hope on the horizon. Although we are focused on our own recovery, we cannot turn a blind eye to those who continue to face the dire consequences of this virus,” AAHOA President & CEO Cecil P. Staton said.

AAHOA is the largest hotel owners association in the world. The nearly 20,000 AAHOA members represent over half the hotels in the United States. With billions of dollars in property assets and hundreds of thousands of employees, AAHOA members are core economic contributors in virtually every community. AAHOA is a proud defender of free enterprise and the foremost current-day example of realizing the American dream.

Tourism in USA Looks Towards A Brighter 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed life as we know it, severely affecting businesses across various industries. While some were able to survive with a shift to online sales and services, not every sector was as fortunate.

One of the most affected industries was tourism, and in the past year, it has struggled to bounce back from a dismal 2020, which saw a massive decline in tourist arrivals in and out of America. However, tourism in the U.S. may be on the rise again sooner than previously thought.

Limitations on travel have severely affected our pandemic-stricken country. The statistics are astounding, surpassing even the impact on the travel industry after 9/11, according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA). As a result, tourism across the country is affected across different levels and state lines.

Popular destinations like California and New York have polarized projections. While California is expected to recover more quickly than the rest of the country thanks to strong fiscal relief and the waning pandemic, tourism in New York paints a very different picture. Highly anticipated events such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center, and the New Year’s Eve ball drop saw a significant reduction in spectators, leading to a glum outlook. This leaves many wondering when pre-pandemic levels will be restored.

Las Vegas is another major tourist spot that was not spared from the effects of COVID-19, susceptible to the same sudden drop in visitors between 2019 and 2020. Fortunately, things are starting to look up for the city and its hotels a year after the pandemic gripped the country. As the number of COVID-19 cases drops and more people are vaccinated, fewer restrictions address much of the pent-up demand. Casino floors and restaurants can now operate at 50% capacity as large gatherings capped at half the limit can also take place.

The newfound attraction to Las Vegas is not only due to the confidence in lower COVID-19 cases and its respective recovery. It also helps that there’s a diverse range of tourist attractions here, to begin with, as highlighted by this list of things to do in Sin City by Poker.org. The Strip is home to resorts like the Aria, Bellagio, and the Venetian – all iconic destinations in their own right. You’ll also find well-loved restaurants like Peppermill that are absolutely worth the visit. Exploring Vegas goes beyond the city lights as tourists can also take in the majestic views of Red Rock Canyon. These attractions are just some of the highlights that visitors can enjoy when in Nevada as the COVID-19 outlook continues to look even more promising in the coming months.

As some tourist hotspots like Vegas boast a positive path to recovery, others are still very much clouded in uncertainty. States such as Florida and equally sunny Hawaii fall somewhere in the middle, with more than half of Hawaiians opposing the return of tourists while others seek to encourage more movement in tourism.

What’s Next for Tourism in the U.S.?

The varying states of progress in these tourist hotspots illustrate how the fight against COVID-19 still has a long way to go, especially when it comes to the tourism industry. However, there is one fact present in all these examples: Progress is well underway. The Biden administration’s goal to vaccinate 100 million people in the first quarter provides much needed support for local businesses, especially smaller-sized enterprises. Whether you’re a local hotel hoping for guests or a restaurant that needs diners, there is a silver lining yet to be reached akin to Vegas’ impressive and optimistic trajectory.

Travel, Hospitality Sectors Hit Hardest By Covid-19: Report

The tourism, travel and hospitality industries have been hit the hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic, a report by Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) said.

Accordingly, the survey report results reflect an across-the-board decline in revenue, with very large companies most likely to have experienced a considerable decline in revenue.

“Despite the general decline in revenues among firms of all sizes, one-third of our survey respondents felt they were doing better than their competition, and fewer than 10 per cent felt they were lagging behind their competitors,” IMA said in a statement.

 

“Companies’ beliefs in how they were faring compared to their competitors was influenced by firm size: larger firms (greater than 1,000 employees) were more likely (39 per cent) to believe they were ahead of their competition than smaller (less than 100 employees) ones (29 per cent).”

 

Besides, financial professionals’ employed with tourism, travel and hospitality industry have also been the hardest hit by the pandemic. According to the report, 13 per cent of financial professionals’ employed with tourism, travel and hospitality industry were furloughed and 58 per cent received pay cuts.

 

“Also, relatively hard hit were professionals in the government, not-for-profit, and education sectors, 5 per cent of whom were furloughed and 52 per cent receiving a salary decrease.”

 

“By contrast, the sectors that showed the highest resilience were accounting and finance followed by IT, telecom, and tech, followed by financial services, banking, and real estate.”

 

The report is based on a survey of 1,481 accounting and finance professionals located in five countries: China, India, Saudi Arabia (KSA), the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the United States (U.S.).

Furthermore, the report highlighted a board revenue decline – with large companies suffering more than their smaller counterparts.

 

Interestingly, the report cited that many companies reported that despite the pandemic, they are faring better than the competition.

 

“Only a marginal few confided that they were worse off than their peers. From a staffing perspective, only half the companies surveyed revealed that they retrenched employees during this period.”

 

“The pandemic has affected employment and the compensation of those still employed. Most survey respondents revealed that they have had a reduction in their compensation, either in salary, bonus, or both.” (IANS)

Florida Hoteliers Play Offense Against Human Trafficking

As Tampa prepares to host the Super Bowl this weekend, Florida hoteliers remain committed to keeping human trafficking out of their hotels and their communities. Every year, thousands of football fans converge on the event’s host city in the runup to the game. Unfortunately, sex traffickers who exploit the most vulnerable in our society are all too eager to bring their illicit enterprise to the party. That is why hotel owners are going on offense to protect their guests, their employees, and trafficking victims by completing AAHOA’s Human Trafficking Awareness Trainings (HTAT). These trainings play a crucial role in empowering hoteliers and their employees to identify and respond to trafficking situations. Owners are keeping their guard up against traffickers even though the number of fans and attendees at this year’s Super Bowl will be significantly lower than in years past due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The sheer number of people at high-profile events like the Super Bowl are an attractive draw to human traffickers. These criminals prize anonymity and seek out low-profile locations to exploit their victims. That is why it is so important for hoteliers and their teams to understand what trafficking looks like and know how to respond if they see something amiss,” said AAHOA President & CEO Cecil P. Staton. “To date, thousands of hotel employees and owners across the country have completed AAHOA HTAT, and our recent training blitz across Florida could not have come at a better time.”

In December, AAHOA held the HTAT Florida Compliance Series to ensure its members in the sunshine state satisfied Florida’s human trafficking awareness training requirement that went into effect on Jan. 1. The Series, held in ten cities throughout the state, offered AAHOA members and their employees a free developed in partnership with Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking (BEST). Successful completion of the training, BEST Inhospitable to Human Trafficking Training sponsored by AAHOA, brings hotels into compliance with the mandate.

“Unfortunately, instances of trafficking are on the rise as criminals exploit people struggling with the multitude of hardships the pandemic imposes on our communities,” said Staton. “Hoteliers must remain vigilant, and AAHOA is proud to give them the tools they need to protect their guests and employees and, potentially, save lives.”

AAHOA is the largest hotel owners association in the world. The nearly 20,000 AAHOA members represent almost one in every two hotels in the United States. With billions of dollars in property assets and hundreds of thousands of employees, AAHOA members are core economic contributors in virtually every community. AAHOA is a proud defender of free enterprise and the foremost current-day example of realizing the American dream.

(Picture: Palm Beach Post)

AAHOA Hires Robert Stuckey as VP of Business Development

ATLANTA, Ga., Feb. 1 – AAHOA, the nation’s largest hotel owners association, is pleased to welcome Robert Stuckey as its new Vice President of Business Development. Stuckey will lead the department and join AAHOA’s executive leadership team.

“We are excited to welcome Robert to AAHOA. He brings substantial experience to his position and a sound strategic vision for the association’s important business development work. He has an exceptional understanding of our members and the hospitality industry, and I look forward to working with Robert in this new role,” said AAHOA President & CEO Cecil P. Staton.

Stuckey joins AAHOA from Davidson Hotels where he served as Director, Transitions and Brand Compliance. Previously he worked for ShawContract and IHG. Stuckey brings his unique perspective of hotel operations, brand leadership, and vendor relations to AAHOA. He is familiar with the association having worked with AAHOA Members in his previous positions, guided ShawContract’s Industry Partnership with AAHOA, and frequently attended AAHOA’s Conventions & Trade Shows.

“I could not be more excited about joining AAHOA at this incredibly important time in our industry’s history,” said Stuckey. “AAHOA, its Members, and Industry Partners have always been an important part of my hospitality career including working and consulting directly with Members. Feedback, partnership, growth, and innovation will be my mantra as we look to grow our value and connection with AAHOA Members and Industry Partners, carrying out AAHOA’s 2021-2023 Strategic Plan, and continuing down the road to recovery for the entire AAHOA community.”
AAHOA is the largest hotel owners association in the world. The nearly 20,000 AAHOA members represent almost one in every two hotels in the United States. With billions of dollars in property assets and hundreds of thousands of employees, AAHOA members are core economic contributors in virtually every community. AAHOA is a proud defender of free enterprise and the foremost current-day example of realizing the American dream.

 

Hoteliers Optimistic About Biden Administration’s Small Business Priorities

WHASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 20 – AAHOA President & CEO Cecil P. Staton issued the following statement today following the inauguration of President Joseph Biden as the 46th President of the United States:

“America’s hoteliers congratulate President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on this historic day for our nation. We look forward to the vision and leadership offered by the Biden administration as our nation works to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and get our economy back on track. The ambitious plan to vaccinate 100 million people in the next 100 days, if achieved, would give a much-needed boost to consumer confidence that could lead to a resumption of travel, tourism, and in-person events. Such a significant increase in vaccinations and testing will go a long way towards alleviating the uncertainty that surrounds the viability and safety of resuming these pre-pandemic activities. Small business owners are struggling with the pandemic’s economic fallout, and the plan outlined by President Biden looks to target those industries, such as hospitality, that are experiencing a disproportionate amount of hardship. We are optimistic that the new administration’s focus on the public good will speed along our recovery, and we look forward to working with President Biden and his team to do right by America’s small businesses.”

About AAHOA:
AAHOA is the largest hotel owners association in the world. The over 19,500 AAHOA members represent almost one in every two hotels in the United States. With billions of dollars in property assets and hundreds of thousands of employees, AAHOA members are core economic contributors in virtually every community. AAHOA is a proud defender of free enterprise and the foremost current-day example of realizing the American dream.

AAHOA is the largest hotel owners association in the world. AAHOA’s 20,000 members own almost one in every two hotels in the United States. With billions of dollars in property assets and hundreds of thousands of employees, AAHOA members are core economic contributors in virtually every community. AAHOA is a proud defender of free enterprise and the foremost current-day example of realizing the American dream.

Now A Vaccine Passport To Travel Abroad

Now that coronavirus vaccines are starting to roll out in the US and abroad, many people may be dreaming of the day when they can travel, shop and go to the movies again. But in order to do those activities, you may eventually need something in addition to the vaccine: a vaccine passport application.
Several companies and technology groups have begun developing smartphone apps or systems for individuals to upload details of their Covid-19 tests and vaccinations, creating digital credentials that could be shown in order to enter concert venues, stadiums, movie theaters, offices, or even countries.
The Common Trust Network, an initiative by Geneva-based nonprofit The Commons Project and the World Economic Forum, has partnered with several airlines including Cathay Pacific, JetBlue, Lufthansa, Swiss Airlines, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, as well as hundreds of health systems across the United States and the government of Aruba.
The CommonPass app created by the group allows users to upload medical data such as a Covid-19 test result or, eventually, a proof of vaccination by a hospital or medical professional, generating a health certificate or pass in the form of a QR code that can be shown to authorities without revealing sensitive information. For travel, the app lists health pass requirements at the points of departure and arrival based on your itinerary.
“You can be tested every time you cross a border. You cannot be vaccinated every time you cross a border,” Thomas Crampton, chief marketing and communications officer for The Commons Project, told CNN Business. He stressed the need for a simple and easily transferable set of credentials, or a “digital yellow card,” referring to the paper document generally issued as proof of vaccination.
Large tech firms are also getting in on the act. IBM (IBM) developed its own app, called Digital Health Pass, which allows companies and venues to customize indicators they would require for entry including coronavirus tests, temperature checks and vaccination records. Credentials corresponding to those indicators are then stored in a mobile wallet.
IBM’s Digital Health Pass app creates an online vaccine credential that can be stored in a mobile wallet. In an effort to address one challenge around returning to normalcy after vaccines are distributed widely, developers may now have to confront other challenges, ranging from privacy issues to representing the varied effectiveness of different vaccines. But the most pressing challenge may simply be avoiding the disjointed implementation and mixed success of tech’s previous attempt to address the public health crisis: contact tracing apps.
Early on in the pandemic, Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) set aside their smartphone rivalry to jointly develop a Bluetooth-based system to notify users if they’d been exposed to someone with Covid-19. Many countries and state governments around the world also developed and used their own apps.
“I think where exposure notification ran into some challenges was more of the piecemeal implementation choices, lack of federal leadership … where each state had to go it alone and so each state had to figure it out independently,” said Jenny Wanger, who leads the exposure notification initiatives for Linux Foundation Public Health, a tech-focused organization helping public health authorities around the world combat Covid-19.
To encourage better coordination this time, The Linux Foundation has partnered with the Covid-19 Credentials Initiative, a collective of more than 300 people representing dozens of organizations across five continents and is also working with IBM and CommonPass to help develop a set of universal standards for vaccine credential apps.
“If we’re successful, you should be able to say: I’ve got a vaccine certificate on my phone that I got when I was vaccinated in one country, with a whole set of its own kind of health management practices… that I use to get on a plane to an entirely different country and then I presented in that new country a vaccination credential so I could go to that concert that was happening indoors for which attendance was limited to those who have demonstrated that they’ve had the vaccine,” said Brian Behlendorf, executive director of Linux Foundation.
“It should be interoperable in the same way that email is interoperable, the same way that the web is interoperable,” he said. “Right now, we’re in a situation where there’s some moving parts that get us closer to that, but I think there’s a sincere commitment from everybody in the industry.”
Part of ensuring wide usage for vaccine passports is accounting for the large subset of the global population that still doesn’t use or have access to smartphones. A few companies within the Covid-19 Credentials Initiative are also developing a smart card that strikes a middle ground between the traditional paper vaccine certificates and an online version that’s easier to store and reproduce.
“For us it’s [about] how that digital credential can be stored, can be presented, not only through smartphones but also in other ways for those people who don’t have access to stable internet and also who don’t own smartphones,” said Lucy Yang, co-lead of the Covid-19 Credentials Initiative. “We’re looking into it, and there are companies who are doing really promising work.
\CommonPass has partnered with several airlines to start rolling out its health credential app on select international flights. Once they build a vaccine passport, companies will need to make sure people are comfortable using it. That means confronting concerns about the handling of private medical information.
CommonPass, IBM and the Linux Foundation have all stressed privacy as central to their initiatives. IBM says it allows users to control and consent to the use of their health data and allows them to choose the level of detail they want to provide to authorities.
“Trust and transparency remain paramount when developing a platform like a digital health passport, or any solution that handles sensitive personal information,” the company said in a blog post. “Putting privacy first is an important priority for managing and analyzing data in response to these complex times.”
With vaccines manufactured by multiple companies across several countries in varying stages of development, there are a lot of variables that passport makers will need to account for.
“A point of entry — whether that’s a border, whether that’s a venue — is going to want to know, did you get the Pfizer vaccine, did you get the Russian vaccine, did you get the Chinese vaccine, so they can make a decision accordingly,” said Crampton. The variance can be wide: the vaccine developed by Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm, for example, has an efficacy of 86% against Covid-19, while the vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna each have an efficacy of around 95%.
It’s also unclear how effective the vaccines are in stopping the transmission of the virus, says Dr. Julie Parsonnet, an infectious disease specialist at Stanford University. So while a vaccine passport app will show that you’ve received the shot, it may not be a guarantee that you safely attend an event or get on a flight.
“We still don’t know if vaccinated people can transmit infection or not,” she told CNN Business. “Until that is clarified, we won’t know whether ‘passports’ will be effective.”
Still, Behlendorf anticipates that the rollout and adoption of vaccine passports will happen rather quickly once everything falls into place and expects a variety of apps that can work with each other to be “widely available” within the first half of 2021. “Rest assured, the nerds are on it,” he said.

United Airlines Launches New Daily Delhi-Chicago Non-Stop Flight

US-based United Airlines has launched its new daily non-stop service between Delhi and its hometown hub of Chicago. Accordingly, these daily flights will be operated by a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. “Starting December 2020, we’re excited to launch even more routes from the U.S. to India. Whether you’re embarking on your first adventure there or eager to reconnect with family, we make it easy to visit India’s top destinations. With the introduction of this new route, United will operate four daily non-stop flights from India,” the airline said in a statement.

Beginning spring 2021, we’re adding daily nonstop flights between San Francisco and Bangalore. With this launch, we’ll become the only airline flying between both cities. Traveling between two of the world’s top tech hubs is about to get easier than ever, the airline posted on its website.

The leading airliner additionally operates daily year-round services from Mumbai and New Delhi to New York or Newark, and from New Delhi to San Francisco, “United also expects to introduce a new daily nonstop service between Bengaluru and San Francisco commencing 8 May 2021. United will be the first US carrier to provide nonstop service from Bengaluru to the US and will offer more nonstop services from India than any other US airline,” it added.

In statement on its site, United posted: “We’ve been proud to connect you to India for 15 years running, and we’re excited to be the only U.S. airline with nonstop flights from the U.S. to the country’s biggest and best destinations.”

United Airlines has announced that it is taking its most ambitious step yet in leading the fight against climate change: pledging to become 100% green by reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 100% by 2050. United, which in 2018 became the first U.S. airline to commit to reducing its GHG emissions by 50% by 2050, will advance towards carbon neutrality by committing to a multimillion-dollar investment in revolutionary atmospheric carbon capture technology known as Direct Air Capture – rather than indirect measures like carbon-offsetting – in addition to continuing to invest in the development and use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). With this unprecedented announcement, United becomes the first airline in the world to announce a commitment to invest in Direct Air Capture technology.

United’s shared purpose is “Connecting People. Uniting the World.” For more information, visit united.com, follow @United on Twitter and Instagram or connect on Facebook. The common stock of UAL is traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol “UAL”.

 

Looking For a Second Passport? As the American passport loses prestige, some are looking to other countries. By Ashlea Halpern

Before the coronavirus pandemic, holding a U.S. passport granted visa-free access to 185 countries around the world. The American passport wasn’t the most powerful on earth (that honor belongs to Japan), but it still got most of us where we needed to go. Until now.

With current E.U. restrictions and other pandemic-related travel bans, there are currently much fewer places where Americans can go. Frustrated by this newly hampered mobility, some are seeking dual citizenship, often as an opportunity to reconnect with the country their parents or grandparents came from, or to reevaluate their careers and potential business opportunities overseas. Whatever the reason someone seeks a second passport, the process of obtaining one can be long and complicated. We spoke to travelers exploring their options, from buying real estate overseas to tracing their family tree.

Your grandparents could help with dual citizenship

The list of countries offering ancestral citizenship to foreign nationals who can prove family ties is enticing—with Canada, Ireland, the U.K., New Zealand, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Mexico, Vietnam, Israel, Brazil, Austria, Hungary, and Spain among them.

Tammy O’Hara, owner of Million Miles Travel Agency in Brooklyn, devoted part of her quarantine to gathering the birth certificates, photos, and affidavits she needs to apply for dual citizenship in Jamaica. Her reasons are both business and personal. “It will be more convenient to move around the different islands as a [Caribbean] citizen, with shorter lines and expedited customs,” says O’Hara. She also wants to diversify her income through overseas investment, have the flexibility to work remotely and retire outside the U.S., and get “more in tune” with her Jamaican ancestry. “I was born in the USA but grew up surrounded by Jamaican culture because of my family,” says O’Hara. “But sometimes I still felt different, like I wasn’t a ‘real’ Jamaican.”

Alissa Musto, an American cruise ship entertainer who’s been out of work since March, began researching second passports before the pandemic for career reasons. Cruises in the Mediterranean and Europe are starting to resume, and jobs are cropping up at global theme parks and resorts. Yet with only an American passport, she can’t apply.

Having dual citizenship is not unusual in the cruise industry. “Most countries don’t make seafarers pay income tax, but the U.S. and the Netherlands still do,” says Musto. “It makes sense for American and Dutch ship workers to have their permanent addresses somewhere else: Aruba, England, Sweden.” Musto, who has both Italian and Czech ancestry, is now working with an immigration attorney to apply for ancestral citizenship in the Czech Republic.

L.A.–based immigration attorney Parviz Malakouti, meanwhile, is applying for both simplified Hungarian naturalization as well as a “Slovak Living Abroad” certificate, which bestows a record of nationality on people of Slovak descent who were born abroad. The former required hiring an amateur genealogist in Hungary to hunt down supporting documentation, including baptismal records from a 19th-century church. Malakouti is also teaching himself Hungarian, another requirement of naturalization. “I’m going through this to have ‘citizenship insurance’ and access to live, work, and open a business in the entire European Union,” he says. “It’s about having more options.”

Vinay Patel Appointed To U.S. Travel And Tourism Advisory Board

AHOA VICE CHAIR Vinay Patel has been appointed to a two-year term on the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board. The board advises the secretary of commerce on issues facing the travel and tourism industry.

Current Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross appointed Patel to the 32-member board to join representatives from companies and organizations connected to the industry. Patel also is president of Fairbrook Hotels in Chantilly, Virginia, which owns and operates 11 properties, and is on the advisory board for “She Has a Deal,” an organization that promotes hotel ownership for women through education, networking, and mentorship.

“Travel and tourism will play a vital role in jumpstarting our economy as our nation begins its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Patel said. “I am honored to serve on the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board during this critical time for our country and our industry.”

The Asian American Hotel Owners Association is the largest hotel owners organization in the world, and an overwhelming majority of the members are Indian Americans.

The organization’s 20,000 members own almost one in every two hotels in the U.S. with billions of dollars in property assets and hundreds of thousands of employees, a press release from AAHOA said.

The U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board provides advice and counsel to the Secretary on issues and concerns that impact the nation’s travel and tourism industry.

The Secretary appoints up to thirty-two members to the Board representing companies and organizations in the travel and tourism industry from a broad range of products and services, company sizes and regions.

In addition to his role as AAHOA Vice Chair, Patel is the president of Fairbrook Hotels, which owns and operates eleven properties, including Marriott, IHG, Hilton, Radisson, Choice, and Wyndham brands. Patel serves on the Board of Directors for the Virginia Hospitality and Tourism Association and is the president of the Herndon Hospitality Association. Previously, he served on the boards of directors of AHLA and the Loudoun (VA) Convention Visitors Bureau.

Earlier this year, the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board addressed restoring consumer confidence in the travel industry in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its recommendations included supporting more, accelerated testing for the disease, better integration of public health policies in travel industry standards and a series of communication initiatives by the Department of Commerce to reassure travelers.

“The serious threat to public health caused by COVID-19 has severely weakened the public’s confidence in travel. Americans have cancelled nearly all travel plans and will likely delay future travel plans until their confidence is restored,” the board said in its recommendation. “Recent research suggests that proactive measures to ensure cleanliness and hygiene, combined with assurances from reputable medical authorities and the federal government, offer the highest levels of assurance for consumers.”

Patel also serves on the Virginia Hospitality and Tourism Association’s board of directors and is the president of the Herndon Hospitality Association. Previously, he served on the boards of directors of AHLA and the Loudoun, Virginia, Convention Visitors Bureau.

Predictably, the hotel industry felt the impact of COVID-19 from the onset of the pandemic. “The catastrophic declines in occupancy rates and revenues make it increasingly likely that the industry will not recover until 2023,” noted AAHOA President & CEO Cecil P. Staton.

The hotel owners organization noted that its members are “core economic contributors in virtually every community.” “AAHOA applauds Vinay’s appointment to the Board. His experience and insight are a valuable addition to discussions about the role travel and tourism will play during the recovery and beyond,” Staton said.