NEW YORK—John Fitzpatrick, president/CEO, Fitzpatrick Hotel Group, North America, was inducted as chair of the board of directors for the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) at the AH&LA Inaugural Gala held at The Plaza hotel, here, last night. More than 300 industry leaders were present as he outlined his agenda for the coming year, which includes transitioning the association into its new, broader structure, increasing industry advocacy, and continuing the focus on the Under 30 and Women in Lodging initiatives.
“Our challenge is to inform every segment that this is the one association that will go the distance in representing all of their interests,” said Fitzpatrick. He stressed that the outreach of AH&LA must grow to encompass all franchisees, brands, owners, management companies, REITs and state associations.
“They are the six cylinders in the new association engine, and all six are crucial to our continued success,” Fitzpatrick told the crowd. “It’s crucial that our entire membership—from nationally known chains down to the boutique-size hotels like mine—gets engaged and focuses on the issues most critical to the industry. As an organized, focused entity, our association will get out and tell your story. Let those in Washington know what you do, who you support and what your impact is.”
Fitzpatrick concluded, “If there are three words you leave with tonight, let them be these: advocacy, communications and education. These ideals incorporate all that we look to accomplish with our new model, and they are the incentives that will draw new members into the fold.”
“As a 30-year veteran, John Fitzpatrick has been an active participant at all levels of engagement by AH&LA,” said Katherine Lugar, AH&LA president/CEO. “As someone who recognizes the importance and value of strong member participation, he will be an outstanding chair as we transition into our new model and increase our role as the chief advocate and voice of all segments of the lodging industry.”
Fitzpatrick opened his first New York hotel in 1991 and for the past two decades, has overseen the operation of two very successful hotels in New York. He is a member of the AH&LA Governmental Affairs Committee and served three terms as chairman of the Hotel Association of New York City, an AH&LA partner state association comprised of over 250 member hotels with more than 70,000 guest rooms. Fitzpatrick currently serves on the executive board of the American Ireland Fund and is the 2014 incoming chair of The Worldwide Ireland Funds. Additionally, he also serves on the board of The Ireland – U.S. Council. In 2008, he was recognized for his contributions to the peace process in Northern Ireland by being invested with an honorary Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty the Queen. He is the recipient of an honorary Doctorate of Science and Economics from Queen’s University in Belfast and an honorary degree in philosophy from Dublin City University.
The inaugural gala was presented by American Express, along with Heartland Payment Systems, Hotel Neighborhood and Sealy, Inc.
In addition to Fitzpatrick, 2014 AH&LA officers include Vice Chair Jim Abrahamson, CEO, Interstate Hotels & Resorts, and Secretary/Treasurer Mark Carrier, CHA, president, B. F. Saul Company Hospitality Group. These hoteliers are led by AH&LA President/CEO Katherine Lugar.