Laura Lee Blake, President & CEO of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), released the following statement in response to ongoing reports that economic headwinds could force more hotel owners into serious financial challenges, including bankruptcies – such as a recent filing by a leading Burger King Franchisee – and out-of-court restructurings this year:
“Our members have taken extraordinary steps over the past three years, and, in numerous cases, counted on pandemic relief aid to weather the worst of COVID-19. Many continue to operate on thin margins with smaller workforces. The tight labor market has made it difficult to hire.
“Hotels and other small businesses are the backbone of local economies, and AAHOA Members – the vast majority of whom are first- and second-generation immigrants – are resilient. However, staffing shortages, rising interest rates, and the possibility of a recession this year, even a mild one, are creating further strain on an industry that is still struggling to recover from a devastating pandemic.
“The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by TOMS King reminds us that small businesses, including restaurants and hotels, continue to suffer long-term impacts from COVID-19 and an overall uncertain economic environment with high inflation and labor shortages. As President Biden noted in his State of the Union speech this week, the entrepreneurial spirit is very much alive with a record number of Americans starting small businesses. But the outlook for many of those businesses remains cloudy.
“AAHOA Members need certainty and continued federal assistance while these economic headwinds rage. While restaurateurs received grants from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, hoteliers have not seen the same support. Many need solutions to address, among other things, the pending payments due on COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) by waiving interest and/or deferring for another year.
“Additionally, the government should lift constraints on H2-B visas by expanding eligibility to include India so there are options available for addressing employers’ needs for additional seasonal workers. Finally, for all franchisees, the Federal Trade Commission should thoughtfully review the Franchise Rule, including extending the Rule beyond the presale disclosure to protect small-business owners’ investments. AAHOA Members also support the 12 Points of Fair Franchising to promote long-term, mutually beneficial relationships between Franchisors and Franchisees that will help sustain the franchise business model and grow the hospitality sector.”
AAHOA is the largest hotel owners association in the world, 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.