Few in the hospitality industry are unaware of AAHOA, the Asian American Hotel Owners Association. The association came about some thirteen years ago when a couple of similarly situated organizations comprised largely of Gujarati (from the Indian state of Gujarat) owners of hotels and motels in the United States merged. The overarching concerns were some blatantly discriminatory practices in the franchise and insurance industry. While there have been some notable blips such as a withdrawal of sponsorship by American Express and an unseemly spat with the then Cendant, the organization has come a long way and has had some remarkable successes in terms of addressing the problems that brought them together as a group. Early March is when the association holds its annual convention (this year in Charlotte, NC from March 7th -10th) and this year brings an oft-stated but largely unacheivable goal to the fore again – branding. Many in AAHOA seem to favor the establishment of their own brand, an idea that may have emotional appeal but little or no marketing acumen. AAHOA’s nearly 20,000 hotels and motels are a motley collection ranging from luxury hotels to small roadside motels. It does not take a marketing maven to come to the conclusion that the consumers of these hospitality enterprises are a diverse and dissimilar group unlikely to spend their dollars across this spectrum of products. With scores of franchisors catering to just about any segment of the industry, AAHOA will do well to stick to its knitting – strenghening its clout with franchisors, the insurance industry and government; all with the goal of ensuring a level playing field for its hotel owners and operators.
Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017. View all posts by Vijay Dandapani