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Alkesh Patel 100 Days August 2012


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Alkesh Patel on his first 100 days as AAHOA Chairman.

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Alkesh Patel 100 Days August 2012

  1. 1. The First 100 Days Class In Session AAHOA Chairman Alkesh Patel in Atlanta during the 2012 Annual ConventionAAHOA Chairman Alkesh Patel reviews his first 100 days and outlinessome exciting changes and developments coming this fall for all membersW hile it’s only been 100 days By Jonathan Springston, Educational Seminars, followed by since Alkesh Patel became a three-hour Trade Show in the mid- AAHOA Chairman, he and AAHOA Lodging Business dle of the afternoon and an eveningthe rest of the Board of Directors have Business Meeting.been hard at work planning events Regionals so you can plan your “Up to two or three in the af-and making decisions for the future. personal business and personal life ternoon, you are really busy. In 50 During the first Board meeting along with AAHOA business,” Patel percent of the Regions, you haveon May 22, the Board made a prior- said. “[Vendors said] it’s good to an audience that arrives at 3 p.m.ity to plan agendas and set dates for have Regionals done by Thursday to 4 p.m. in the afternoon,” Patelmore than a dozen Regional meet- so they can be home by Thursday said. “It’s not that they don’t want toings in order to give vendors, at- evening. If they can’t, they’re back by get the education, it’s that they aretendees and Board members plenty Friday. If we do Regionals on Friday, working. They’re running the hotelsof time to prepare. then they’re traveling on Saturday and taking care of the kids. If we After receiving feedback from and that takes out from their work were to do a Trade Show and thenvendors who exhibit during Re- schedule. When you have it planned, do some education pieces during thegional Trade Shows, Patel felt it was it makes a big difference for them.” evening, I think it makes sense.”important to be careful how AAHOA In addition to sensible timing, Rather than Officers recitingscheduled the events. Patel said the Board will focus this information members can find in “We put the Regionals on Tues- fall on adjusting Regional schedules AAHOA Lodging Business, Patelday and Thursday. Strategically, it in order to maximize resources and hopes to use the Business Meetingmakes sense so you’re not running provide members the best value. as a platform for vendors to educatearound the whole week back and Traditionally, the day-long Re- members on different products,forth. You know you can do two gional meetings begin at 1 p.m. with services and other industry issues.AUGUST 2012 AAHOA Lodging Business 31
  2. 2. The First 100 Days “The evening is when you have “I have a bigger role as Chair- ticipated in a business roundtablethe most attendees and we need to man to fill. Before, it was more of a hosted by Red Roof Inn and Hoteltake advantage of that. It’s a pre- supporting role as a member of the Business in Columbus, Ohio.mium time,” Patel said. Board, a committee chair or as an “As Chairman, what’s different is you go and meet with these industryWhen you have three or four different executives and find out what are the things [they] can offer to the AAHOAindividuals that come and speak on a membership they are already offering to their members,” Patel said.topic that matters to [members], they In late June, Patel traveled to Baltimore for HITEC, where he and other Board members strengthenedare going to pay attention relations with members of the Hos- pitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) leadership, in- During the May 22 Board Officer. As Chairman, it’s decision cluding Frank Wolfe and R.P. Rama,meeting, Patel said each Regional time and every decision is that much who invited the new Chairman andDirector agreed to send letters and more important,” he said. “Before, it the Board to upcoming HFTP eventse-mail invitations to elected officials was speaking for the Board or a com- in Orlando and Goa, India.and candidates for office from their mittee opinion. Now, it’s making a “[HITEC] was amazing. I metrespective Regions. decision for AAHOA and the with the executives there “We expect we’ll always have membership.” [and] we talked abouttwo to three elected officials, plus Even though travel how they can bringprofessionals. We want to make sure has been light, Patel some of their exper-during that one-hour Business Meet- has been active. He tise to AAHOA. Weing, we are as productive as pos- attended the NYU spent a lot of timesible and spend more time answer- Conference in New with them discuss-ing questions from members than York. The Board met ing how they domaking long speeches,” Patel said. with Best Western their educational“When you have three or four differ- executives to discuss seminars,” Patelent individuals that come and speak partnership ideas. In said. “Theiron a topic that matters to [members], early June, he par-they are going to pay attention. Theydon’t want to listen to me talkingabout something that is already inthe magazine. It’s boring for them.” Before becoming Chairman inMay during the AAHOA AnnualConvention in Atlanta, Patel knewthere had to be detailed plans toensure he could not only meet thedemands of his new leadership rolebut also those of his personal andprofessional life. “I always wanted the meetingsplanned in advance so I know whatmy AAHOA responsibilities are.That way, I can prepare my businessschedules and family schedulestoo,” he said. “I have a greatfamily and partners who helpme with [my business]. You alsowant to make sure you spendtime with the family. I have ayoung daughter and son. I try toget business done by Friday [so] I’mhome with them on the weekends.” In the weeks since the Conven- Alkesh Patel no longertion, Patel has begun crafting his speaks for just a fewmessage and slipping into a members or the Board but the entire associationbroader leadership role.32 AAHOA Lodging Business AUGUST 2012
  3. 3. The First 100 Days Alkesh Patel has his eyes on executive team is so “The second and third genera- the future knowledgeable. They tions are coming into business. The gave me a lending hand. youth can sit with [HFTP]. They can They said ‘let’s come up take so much out of it. That informa- with special seminars at tion is essential,” he said. “When the [AAHOA] Conven- you have that information and you “Every time you speak, you have to think about it. That’s different. Before, it was speaking for the Board or a committee opinion. Now it’s important. More of it is making a decision for AAHOA and the membership.” tion for the youth.’” use that in your new project, that Patel said bringing saves you a lot of money. Rather such knowledge to the than doing something without that new generation of AA- knowledge, you do it with that HOA hoteliers could be expertise. Then five years down invaluable. the road, you’re not scrambling toAUGUST 2012 AAHOA Lodging Business 33
  4. 4. The First 100 Dayschange something that’s already Alkesh Patel at the Annual Conventioncome along.” in Atlanta shortly before announcing the Education has emerged as an im- results of the electionportant theme for Patel’s Chairman-ship. While AAHOA remains “thesword you need and the shield youdeserve,” as the new Chairman put itYou meet withthese industryexecutives andfind out whatare the things[they] can offer for positions on association com- them in their second committee ofto the AAHOA mittees. choice.” “Every month I was writing “It worked out pretty well. We about the committee participa- got our orientations done and themembership tion. At the Convention, I told the members that in order to be a part of committees elected their chairs. It’s something we’ll work on improv-they are already it, you need to apply. We had a lot of people apply and show interest. We ing,” he added. AAHOA recently commissionedoffering to their were able to get 95 to 99 percent of a survey through Xavier University those who applied onto committees and the University of Kentucky that to serve,” Patel said. “There were seeks to answer many importantmembers certain committees like Governmen- tal Affairs, Strategic Planning questions for franchisees. “We want to get the stats out and Youth that had on the performance of certainduring the Convention, the associa- greater interest than brands so we can have a booktion is ready to make individual the others. If people or a sheet,” Patel said. “If wemembers their own best weren’t able to serve can produce guidelines foradvocates. on their first com- [a first-time hotelier] that As part of the new mittee of choice, I shows how much it’s going togovernance model was able to put cost, the different categoriesthat took effect of hotels, and the brands thatafter the Convention, give the most ROI, that willmembers had the help him to make theopportunity to apply decision.” The new Chairman constantly works with other AAHOA leaders to chart a new course for the association34 AAHOA Lodging Business AUGUST 2012
  5. 5. The First 100 Days order to ensure the protec- meeting, Board members chipped in tion of those business inter- $75,000 for the PAC. ests. In recent years, AAHOA “It was a good start. Before, cer- has become a lobbying force tain regions would go heavily after on Capitol Hill. PAC funds, and we would raise tons With the help of the of money. But other regions would Washington, D.C.-based firm be dry,” Patel noted. Patton Boggs LLP, AAHOA Members who cannot afford to has made many friends on donate at this level, will have the op- Capitol Hill. The Board is portunity to donate smaller amounts working on hiring a lobby- as part of a raffle to be held at each ist who would work out of Regional meeting. the Patton Boggs office and “They can give $20 or $25, but I focus exclusively on AAHOA want to make sure the member under- and hospitality industry stands why it’s important to commit interests. that money and to contribute to the “Having a permanent PAC,” Patel said. “I have no doubt office - AAHOA’s office - will we will be able to reach or exceed our make a big difference,” Patel goal.” said. “You need to have a Alkesh Patel has put heavy presence [on Capitol Hill] Alkesh Patel emphasis on raising funds speaking during doing this full time. It makes for the AAHOA PAC the Northeast a big difference.” Regional in July In order to wield greater The survey will also reveal influence within electoralfranchise fees details and which politics, Patel has put a heavy em-brands are easier to work with. Patel phasis on raising more money forsaid raw data could be extracted to the AAHOA Political Actiondetermine how many AAHOA mem- Committee (PAC).bers own a particular brand of hotel “The PAC is the biggest thingand what percentage of a particular this year, being an election year.brand that number represents. Part of our governance model is For the new term, AAHOA has to have a healthy PAC,” Patelcompletely revamped the Certified said. “Our goal is to have $1We want to make sure that aslong as the members are gettingeducation, they will be able tooperate their business smartlyHotel Owners (CHO) program*, million in the PAC.”with plans in place for classes to oc- In order to raise morecur almost every week and expecta- money, the Board has devisedtions that the program will produce a strategic plan that includesmore graduates than ever before. three PAC club levels: 101, 365 “With our mission statement, and 1,001, where these num-education is a key piece of it,” Patel bers represent dollar amounts.said. “The first generation believed “For each Regional Direc-on providing good education. We tor, we have come up with awant to make sure that as long as the goal of $9,000. Let’s say we havemembers are getting education, they a $9,000 goal that each Regionalwill be able to operate their business Director raises on a five yearsmartly.” renewal basis. That gives you Part of running a smart business an idea of how to get to thatmeans reaching out to elected of- million,” Patel said.ficials at all levels of government in During the first Board *Developed by Kapoor & Kapoor Hospitality ConsultantsAUGUST 2012 AAHOA Lodging Business 35