Presented by: Chip Rogers and Kevin Carey, AHLA
This Spring’s economic pause has sent a shock-wave to businesses worldwide, with the hotel industry especially hit hard as travel has essentially halted. At the center are the hotels themselves; but in connection, are the numerous suppliers and businesses which support their operations. In response to the debilitating business climate, the U.S. Federal Government has been scrambling to provide financial relief to multiple business sectors. But at this unprecedented time, the need is far-reaching. That is where the advocacy efforts of the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) has been especially beneficial to U.S. hotels, strongly indicating the specific needs of its particular industry.
On Thursday, April 30, HFTP held a specially-scheduled Hangout led by AHLA leaders for a direct discussion on the group’s current advocacy efforts. Chip Rogers, AHLA president and CEO, and Kevin Carey, AHLA COO and EVP, detailed the association’s recent activity on the Hill and its next steps, stressing that the association was acting as a representative to hotels, as well as all industry-associated businesses.
Recounting the organization’s activities of recent months, Chip said that it has been Covid-19 twenty-four seven. All its other “usual” endeavors have been put on halt. This not only includes working with law-makers at the federal level, but also inserting a voice at the state and municipal levels – where going forward efforts will be focused. This work involves a full team who on a daily basis is in discussions with lawmakers representing both parties in the House and Senate and state governments. Getting their concerns considered relies on long-established relationships which have created open lines of communication.
Alongside this work, AHLA has been following through on a strong media and communications strategy. This is to broadly relay the depth of the economic impact to hotels, outlining preferred avenues for assistance and to keep hotels at the forefront when upcoming relief measures are enacted.
Crucial to the messaging is to work with AHLA members and thought leaders to present a united front. This involves gathering input far-and-wide, coalescing and producing a unified message to the broader public. This strategy helps to get critical needs addressed and not lost.
Congress is currently working on an additional, forthcoming CARES Act package. Of interest to AHLA is the potential for language on liability protection for businesses and pandemic risk and business interruption insurance. Also, AHLA together with AAHOA has requested that Congress create a CMBS market relief fund with a specific focus on the hotel industry and its dire need for relief in this sector.
Overall, efforts have been towards getting relief for small businesses, with 61 percent of the industry fitting into the small business category. AHLA is gathering input on what the hoteliers and outlying businesses are needing to help with recovery, and the two association leaders encouraged participants to visit the site Hotelsact.org and submit input.
Currently AHLA is focused on reopening and recovery, building resources on its website for allied partners and members. They are pivoting and adding guidance to the site over the next several weeks. The engagement levels has been strong across all segments and in turn, AHLA has been working around the clock to put the industry’s best foot forward.
Eliza Selig is the HFTP director of communications. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.