AH&MA Seeks To Boost Involvement

PHOENIX- The American Hotel & Motel Association?s (AH&MA) board of directors moved on a number of initiatives at a meeting held here at its Annual Conference & Leadership Forum/Lodging Expo April 12-14. One move made was the decision to host a Western equivalent to the International Hotel/ Motel & Restaurant Show held in New York each fall. The new show would be held in Las Vegas in the spring.The board also agreed to set up a CEO committee to allow more involvement of chain CEOs on industry issues and to expand the size of the association?s executive committee. It also moved to present its position to the access board of the Americans with Disabilities Act, stating that AH&MA believes the industry?s current inventory of handicapped-accessible rooms is at a sufficient level and does not need to be increased. The AH&MA board also voted to further put off the decision to change the name of the 90-year-old organization to the American Lodging Association to its November meeting after the regional associations have had the chance to examine the issue. The name change is one that Bob Slater, current chairman of the AH&MA, feels strongly about. ?We have to make AH&MA more inclusive,? he told members at the opening session of the conference, adding that he wants every segment of the industry to be included in the association?s name. ?AH&MA must reflect the reality that exists today and represent the entire industry and what it will be in the future. We can?t afford to hold on to antiquated ideas,? he said. Slater also encouraged members to build a strong grassroots lobbying effort to promote the association?s issues. He also stressed the need for adequate funding for AH&MA?s political committee. ?To be a powerful player we need to increase the funding by $1 million at each election cycle,? he said. This year?s meeting had an overall attendance of 1,460, beating out the final attendance of 1,320 at last year?s convention held in Nashville. John Russell, AH&MA?s vice chairman, who will automatically rise to the chairman?s spot next year, was also on hand to help host the show and moderate panels. Russell declined to say what the next step will be in his 20-plus year career in the hotel business, but he did, however, give a glimpse of what his platform will include when he chairs AH&MA?s board next year. ?I will have an agenda,? he said. ?We will get more CEOs plugged into the program. We have got to get them to the CEO Councils,? he told HOTEL BUSINESS?. Russell, at the conference, stressed the importance of the association?s participation in the America?s Promise program, the non-profit organization whose goal is to improve the lives of youth across the United States. It is headed by General Colin Powell. AH&MA last year announced a three-year commitment to the program, an effort it hopes will help lure young people to the industry. ?America?s Promise gives us the chance to do a good thing and, very bluntly, gives us a labor pool. It lets us have influence over the schools,? said Russell. The association has published a 12-page Commitment Guide for its members that includes an application form to participate in the program, as well as tips on how to get started once you?re in it. AH&MA has also created a ?CheckInn? career kit, designed for hoteliers as a tool to help develop relationships with schools and local organizations. In an effort to combat the perception that the hospitality industry pays only low wages and provides only menial jobs, the kit also explains to students how they, in a relatively brief amount of time, can actually achieve the goal of owning their own hotel while in their twenties. It also outlines other career paths in the industry that can lead to high-paying executive jobs. Russell also pointed out that the hospitality sector provides those attractive jobs being offered by other hot industries, offering positions in dealing with the Internet and other technology jobs, as well as financial positions, like CF

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