Contributed by Estella Hale, V.P. of Product, SHR
When I was first invited to speak at the annual convention and trade show put on by AAHOA, I was flattered, of course. With a reputation for being a proud defender of free enterprise, and a mission to advance and protect the business interests of hotel owners, AAHOA is the largest hotel owners association in the world with more than 17,000 members, owning nearly one of every two hotels in the United States.But then, I found out the format—it was to be an interactive distribution game show! I was more than a little intrigued. Considering how aligned SHR’s values are with AAHOA’s, I decided that just being able to provide practical information to hoteliers in a fun and unique way would be great. Little did I know that I would also come away with a renewed sense of the strength and unity that is today’s hospitality industry.
Capping off our Thursday activities, the special interactive session entitled “Who Wants to Be (and Stay) a Millionaire?” followed a format specifically geared toward independent hoteliers. I soon realized AAHOA did it this way because they wanted the session to be informative and topic rich, yet highly engaging and entertaining—a tall order for the last session of day already full of educational topics. But the results were great. People were fully invested in the moment and the knowledge being shared. The session was everything the committee had aimed for, and I have no doubt, they will continue to experiment in the future with such formats in order to bring even more benefit to their members.
In addition to the game show, I had the pleasure of being interviewed live by none other than Glenn Haussman of “No Vacancy”, a well-respected podcast show, known for featuring hot topics, trends, and some of the biggest names in the hospitality industry. Among the many issues we discussed, SHR’s belief in the return of distribution control to hoteliers was key. Since they know their hotel better than any report or marketing manager could ever know it, the future will see hoteliers, more and more, using technology as a tool to achieve their own strategy and goals, aiming for that ever-more-important audience of one.
Over all, I came away impressed with how much hoteliers attending AAHOA identified with this conference as not just “a” conference, but "their" conference. They knew they had genuine influence on topics, and the topics discussed were as real as their hotels' operations. From technology, branding, and artificial intelligence, to how to identify human trafficking, the hoteliers’ involvement was palpable, and their camaraderie and dedication to their business and to the organization inspiring. From SHR and myself, here’s looking forward to AAHOACON ’19, and the ground-breaking advances in hospitality technology that await us all!