Do Your Share, Join Your Resort or Hotel & Lodging Association
|by Kirby D. Payne, CHA
I get sad and angry when I think about the number of hotels, motels, inns and resorts (all of which I'll refer to as hotels in this article), regardless of size, which are not members of the industry's associations. Let's not be confused either, it's not hotels that join and get active its people!
I am sad because I know that as a result of not joining, a lot of people, owners, management and staff are not receiving all the advantages of membership. I am angry both because I feed taken advantage of and I know how much more could be accomplished if the membership was larger and more active. I feel taken advantage of in the sense that non-members are getting some of the benefits of my fellow members' and my time and money.
In my mind there are three primary reasons for joining the industry's associations:
In conjunction with other businesses we were able to make in roads in Workers' Compensation reform which will result in a 16% cut in employers' costs. We were a member of a coalition that defeated a proposal to move school opening to a date prior to Labor Day. This would have seriously impacted summer vacation travel by cutting at least one week and a long weekend out of the summer. Another bill which could have impacted us all would have been one requiring us to rent rooms to anyone over 18 years old! Thankfully, it never got a hearing.
Nationally, the Governmental Affairs Department saved each of us many thousands of dollars. Here is the short list:
The associations' committees are groups of individuals volunteering their valuable time to work towards many common goals. One of the most exciting committee accomplishments at the national level was one that resulted in getting President Bush to do a wonderful television advertisement with scenes from all over the U.S. inviting people to visit us from abroad. This advertisement was funded by contributions from member companies and is playing on television in Europe. The same coalition raised $8 million to promote travel for a six week national campaign during the Gulf War to ease fears and get travelers back on the road. In Minnesota, the associations work actively with the Department of Tourism to publish over 100,000 copies of the Explore Minnesota Travel Guides. The national equivalent is the OAG Lodging Travel Planner & Red Book which is published quarterly.
The associations' executives, committees and staff coordinate a number of other activities:
While I obviously feel the benefits of membership in the Minnesota Hotel and Lodging Association are innumerable, there are costs. The first and most obvious is financial. Depending on the size and level of service of the property it can be as little as $119 a year to a maximum of $7.05 per room for a full service hotel with more than 76 rooms. That amount includes membership at both the state and national level. Many hoteliers don't take the time to understand the bottom line value of participating and the utilization of the many resources of the associations more than pay for their dues investment in the first month or so of membership. The direct economic benefits easily outweigh the direct financial cost. It's a good deal!
The way to maximize the benefits of membership is to be active in those areas of interest to people at a member property. Have a problem with the Health Department? Work on the Joint Health and Safety Committee which includes Restaurant Association members and also tell your new acquaintances on the Joint Legislative Committee what you think of the law and administrative regulations. Have a problem with employee turnover and performance? Get involved with the Joint Human Resources Committee, use the educational programs that are available for you and your staff.
The hospitality industry is probably the world's second oldest profession and is one of the most diverse. It includes everyone from the all-important room attendant to the inconsequential Leona Helmsley at the human level and the smallest Mom and Pop independent motel to the Waldorf Astoria at the property level. All of us are in the same boat and generally have the same goals. We have a better chance of achieving them if we work together to improve the industry and the people that work in it.
I invite you to join with your peers in the industry and support it with your membership dues and time. We'll get more done with your help and I won't feel ripped off. If you mention this article when you join I'll take you as my guest to the Minnesota Hotel and Lodging Association's Annual Meeting and Christmas party.
For additional information, contact:
Kirby D. Payne at the firm
American Hospitality Management Company
1500 South Highway 100, #375, Minneapolis, MN 55416
Phone: 763-591-7640 Fax: 763-591-1593
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