WASHINGTON, DC? Barring any Y2K-related glitches, it will be business as usual for the American Hotel & Motel Association (AH&MA) on Jan. 1 when its annual ?changing of the guard? finds Vice Chairman Bob Slater ascending to the post of chairman, succeeding H.P. Rama. Concluding his one-year term, Rama, who is chairman and CEO of JHM Hotels in Greenville, SC, will be stepping down into his new designation as AH&MA immediate past chairman. For Slater, president of Oklahoma City, OK-based Southern Hospitality, the occasion will mark the pinnacle of his 13-year affiliation with the association. Since entering the ranks of the AH&MA in 1977, Slater has served the interests of the organization and the industry in a number of capacities, including: chairman of the audit and certification committee; chairman of the political action committee; and as an active member on a variety of AH&MA task forces. Building on this array of experience, Slater has formulated some definitive ideas about the association, the impact of its past and present efforts, and the potential of its future courses of action, ideas he plans to bring to the fore during his term of office. ?There are a number of initiatives and undertakings set into motion during my predecessor?s tenure as AH&MA chairman that will continue to command my attention and support,? he said. ?Foremost among these are: ?Experience Lodging,? the hospitality workforce initiative spearheaded by Carlson Hospitality Worldwide President and CEO Curtis Nelson; and MORE [Millennium Occupancy Revenue Enhancement], under the aegis of Michael Leven, president and CEO of US Franchise Systems,? he said. ?Both of these programs warrant our best efforts,? Slater said. ?Under Nelson?s guiding hand, ?Experience Lodging? addresses one of the most pressing concerns our industry faces? the shortage of trained and qualified personnel entering the lodging and hospitality ranks. As for our MORE initiative, Leven is mounting a far-sighted plan-of-attack aimed at redirecting some of the 58% of leisure travelers who currently don?t stay at a hotel or motel when away from home.? Slater has a few pet projects of his own. ?One of our most important missions is to awaken the sleeping giant that is our industry?s political clout,? he said. ?AH&MA needs to expand its Foundation as well as its Government Affairs Departments. We will not only need to strengthen our committee and redouble its efforts, we will also have to more fully develop our grass-roots lobbying program. ?We have to reach out to those who are the experts in this arena, those who know what lobbying is all about and how to most effectively structure our efforts. ?These efforts will include greater reliance on technology to more clearly identify our members [especially to those holding public office that we need to reach], and greater dedication to raising the resources [i.e. funding] of our political action committee,? he said.