Joe Mclnerney, (American Hospitality and Lodging Association President)

In an exclusive conversation with TTW, American Hospitality and Lodging Association President, Joe Mclnerney, talks about current American travel industry, the association, its future plans and much more.

TTW: What is the foremost function of AH & LA?

Joe Mclnerney : The American Hotel & Lodging Association is the sole national organization in the United States, representing all sectors and stakeholders in the lodging industry. We provide our members with national advocacy, public relations, image management, education, research, information, and other value-added services to provide bottom line savings and ensure a positive business climate for our industry. We celebrated our 100th anniversary in 2010.

The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation is the charitable fund raising and endowed fund-management affiliate of AH&LA. It identifies, cultivates, and supports the human talent, research, and initiatives most vital to the progress and prosperity of our industry. In 2012, the Foundation will fund 1.2 million dollars in domestic academic scholarships, research grants, school-to-career and workforce development programs.

The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute is a non-profit affiliate of AH&LA. Its mission is to educate, train, prepare, and certify the industry. In addition to more than 350 training resources aimed at hospitality industry employees, the Educational Institute is also a world leader in providing hospitality management textbooks and courses to both students in post-secondary academic institutions and adult learners studying independently or in groups.

AHLEI is also the certifying body for more than 40 hospitality positions, from line-level skills certification to supervisory, management, department head, and executive certifications, culminating in the Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA). More than 70,000 professionals worldwide hold at least one professional certification designation from the Educational Institute.

TTW: Describe a brief anecdote or case study to illustrate how your association operates.

Joe Mclnerney :
Every year at our Legislative Action Summit, hoteliers from across the country come to Washington D.C. to learn the pressing legislative issues facing the lodging industry and take their message to Capitol Hill. After a day-long conference featuring panels on the current legislative outlook, members head to Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress. As a direct result of hoteliers converging on Capitol Hill, Travel Promotion (visa reform legislation) and ADA pool lift requirements have been reviewed and are currently being discussed.


TTW: What do you see as being the single most important challenge facing the American Hotel & Lodging Association today? How are you addressing this?

Joe Mclnerney :
Through our industry’s collective strength, we have been extremely successful on the legislative issues that affect business. Serving as the voice of the lodging industry on Capitol Hill, AH&LA has defeated the most egregious bills and brought forth initiatives that will encourage economic growth. On any given day, our governmental affairs staff is working on more than 100 separate pieces of legislation or regulatory issues, such as Card Check legislation, Health Care, Internet Travel Agency tax issues, Comprehensive immigration reform, H2B visas, Federal per diem rates, and Small Business Administration loans, just to name a few

TTW: Which emerging markets are you looking to target and how?

Joe Mclnerney : The American Hotel & Lodging Association is the United States’ national hotel association. We do have international members, they are mostly expatriate general managers who are interested in receiving the Educational Institute’s AH&LA member discounts for training material.

AHLEI extends its reputation through the Global Academic Program (GAP) around the world to serve the needs of learning institutions and hotel organizations with more than 90 licensed affiliates in 60 countries. The Educational Institute also has an official office located in India, and holds exclusive Hospitality Education Program (HEP) license and partner agreements in 60+ countries connecting the Educational Institute’s research and expertise to hospitality operations throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.

TTW: AH & LA Summer Summit is forthcoming this June- Tell us about this event and how are you prepared with this upcoming event?

Joe Mclnerney : The annual Summer Summit is the association’s mid-year meeting. It offers attendees insight from industry insiders, networking with diverse groups of industry professionals, and the opportunity to shape future AH&LA initiatives via more than a dozen committees. The annual Stars of the Industry Awards luncheon honors outstanding lodging employees and properties across the country, as well as Educational Institute award recipients. Annual awards are presented to notable hotel employees, managers, and general managers across the nation, and to hotels for innovative and successful programs in community service; guest relations; special events; diversity; eco-friendly practices, and information technology.

Additionally, many of AH&LA’s more than 30 specialized committees, as well as AH&LA’s board of directors, and the AH&LEF board of trustees comprised of top-level hoteliers, management companies, and other representatives from the diverse lodging industry, will host meetings critical in strategically planning industry-wide programs and initiatives.

TTW: What is AH&LA Green Resource Center all about?

Joe Mclnerney : One of the most important issues in the world today is sustainability and the environment. The sustainability of the environment and our industry are mutually dependent. The Green Resource Center provides our members and the industry with invaluable information on best practices, eco education, eco supplies, and our green guidelines.

AH&LA’s Green Task Force launched a comprehensive and sustainable Green Guidelines in January 2009, designed expressly to create an environmental-friendly and sustainable hotel. In developing the guidelines, the goal is to identify those that are the most reputable and provide the best pathways for the industry as a whole. The guidelines give hotel owners and operators opportunities to reduce operating costs and environmental impacts through reduced utility consumption, recycling programs, employee training, and supply chain management. Hotels can improve both their fiscal and environmental performance by adhering to these guidelines, as well as see benefits in corporate environmental management, housekeeping, food and beverage operations, conference and meeting functions, and engineering. There are nearly 70 guidelines that focus on energy and water conservation and waste management. Many of the minimum guidelines will include case studies, business cases, and resources for properties to implement

TTW: Lastly, how is AH & LA lined up for 2012?

Joe Mclnerney : A proposed new model for the association will be presented at the June board of directors meeting. If approved by the board in June and the meeting of the members in November, in 2013, the structure of the American Hotel & Lodging Association will change to enhance government affairs and the voice of the industry. It will be a smaller tightly focused association funded largely from significant dues contributions from the major hotel companies, proportionate contributions from smaller hotel companies, management companies, REIT’s, independent properties, suppliers, and state associations to achieve a well-balanced and properly funded association.

The association is structured to meet our current objectives and face the industry’s challenges once we receive the approval from the board of directors to proceed in developing the new model.

TTW: What does the future look like for AH & LA?

Joe Mclnerney : AH&LA’s future is bright, as we are the only association representing all stakeholders in the industry. Our new model will strengthen our focus on advocacy and the voice of the industry as well as continue to provide direction and oversight for our affiliates. The new vision will focus on strengthening the industry’s advocacy and its “voice of the industry” for political, consumer, and industry issues. It will continue to provide direction and oversight for its affiliates, the Educational Foundation, and the Educational Institute.


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