|By Jacob Longan, Stillwater NewsPress,
Okla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Dec. 14, 2008 - The respect Joe Martin has nationally was evident on Nov. 9.
That is when Martin, owner and operator of Stillwater's Hampton Inn & Suites, was inaugurated as chairman of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York City.
His term officially begins Jan. 1 and ends Jan. 1, 2010.
"It was a big honor," Martin said. "It was a big committment. I was quite honored to be considered and even more so being selected. I knew it would require a lot of time."
Martin is about to enter the third year of the four-year commitment he made as an officer. Officers with the Association begin as secretary-treasurer, then become vice chair, chair and past chair. All are volunteer positions.
"Chairman is first and foremost the spokesperson in concert with the president and CEO who is our paid staff member," Martin said. "He is the spokesperson for the Association. He will represent the Association at official industry meetings. I will spend a good amount of time traveling to the different state Associations to update them on the work of the national Association and what we do on their behalf."
He will also lobby for the industry in Washington D.C., speak at investment and industry meetings and visit hospitality programs at universities.
"That's kind of a passion of mine," Martin said. "That is one thing I will spend quite a lot of time doing as well."
Officers are nominated by a committee and then ratified by the board.
Cristy Morrison with the Stillwater Convention and Visitor's Bureau said Martin's honor is "an incredibly big deal," noting she flew to New York City for the banquet.
"It is huge for Oklahoma and huge for Stillwater," Morrison said. "It will get us in front of a lot of people nationwide."
She added, "Joe is looked up to in the industry. He has been in the business for a while now. When other properties are looking to build in Stillwater, they talk to Joe. He is definitely very, very knowledgable within the industry."
Jan Harris, general manager of Stillwater's Microtel Inn & Suites, has known Martin for many years and said she is "thrilled" for him.
"For someone from our community to hold a national office is very prestigious for Stillwater," Harris added. "It helps put us on the map nationally and Joe is a very qualified and very knowledgable person in the hotel industry. I think we are very, very fortunate to have someone from our community to serve on a national board, especially as Chairman, to represent Oklahoma as well as Stillwater itself."
He has represented Oklahoma on the Association's national board for eight years.
He originally declined becoming an officer because of the time commitment involved. Now, though, with his sons out of school and the two oldest working at the Hampton, Martin said he was able to do it.
Ross Martin is the hotel's general manager, while Jay Martin and Joe's wife, Pam, also work there.
The youngest son, Cole, works for Edward Jones.
The hotel has won Hilton's highest honor, the Connie Award, three times in the six years since it opened.
It has never been outside of the brand's top five percent, Joe added.
This year, though, he will have to rely upon his employees more than normal as he will be so busy with his chairman duties.
"Not many days go by that I won't be doing something on behalf of the Association," Joe said. "I'm not always traveling, but most everyday I will be doing something for them. As far as travel, I would estimate somewhere in the neighborhood (of) 20 to 30 weeks out of the year that at some point during that week I would be traveling on behalf of the Association."
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