MS. What are your motivations behind organising one of the largest annual gatherings of hotel owners in the country? Please tell us about your role in this annual convention?
Akshar Patel. When I start to envision an event, I focus on experience, ROI, and messaging. These 3 fundamentals are the base of any size event which creates loyalty and retention to the end vision of an organization. In my role I am blessed to oversee the whole project from start to finish. Logistic planning, contracts, financial management, AV/Production Design, F&B, Housing etc. That’s why I am always clear on the end goal as we start planning with vision and strategy.
“AAHOA is the largest hotel owners association in the U.S. AAHOA Members are
responsible for 1.7 percent of the nation’s GDP. With billions of dollars in property
assets and over one million employees, AAHOA members are core economic
contributors in communities across the United States.”
MS. Could you provide the readers about your journey & career?
Akshar Patel. My family came to the US and started in the hotel industry so you can say it runs in my blood. As time went along this became passion and when you have passion for something you can achieve anything. Alongside this I made it a point to be around people who could guide me, teach me, and scold me at the same time so that I learn how to be a better leader. I am humbled to have been selected as a top 40 under 40 Event Executive and recently named one of the top 15 Event Executives who have made an impact these past few years in our industry.
MS. Please tell us about Oxford Economics Study? Looking ahead, what is AAHOA’s growth strategy for another 5 years?
Akshar Patel. The Oxford study was commissioned back in 2019 and has been years in the making. Because of their reputation and leadership in the space, AAHOA chose Oxford to do a deep dive of AAHOA membership so we could get a better understanding of our economic impact across the country. Since our start in 1989, AAHOA has been a fast-growing organization, and we knew our impacts on hotel ownership were significant, but we wanted to quantify the data with a formal study to truly understand how significant our contributions are. Some of the most impressive findings is that AAHOA Members own 60% of the hotels in the US, and there are more than 34K AAHOA Member-owned hotels that comprise of 3.1M guestrooms. In addition, in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, AAHOA Members own nearly a staggering 90% of the hotels in each state. In addition the study explored jobs, revenue, taxes, GDP, and more, and all of the detailed data is available at AAHOA.com/Oxford. Our industry has been through so much over the past 18+ months, and in 2020, we worked on our new strategic plan that will take us from 2021-2023.
This shorter time frame allows us to better react to market conditions and our members’ needs since they’re ever changing at the moment. That being said, strategically, we’re looking more at the short term right now. How can we be the best resource and advocate for America’s hotel owners as they continue to grapple with the effects of the pandemic over the next few years? That said, we’re continuing to grow and reach even more hoteliers across the nation, and we have some other exciting updates that we’ll be rolling out in 2022 that will help us better serve our members and hopefully attract some hotel owners who have never been a part of AAHOA before. In addition, we have new leadership with Ken Greene becoming AAHOA’s new president and CEO, and he’s been in the business for over 20 years and has so much to bring to AAHOA. We know that under his leadership we’ll continue to reach new heights and milestones on behalf of our nearly 20K members.
MS. How many regional, national and international conventions, meetings and trade shows, are hosted by the AHOAA?
Akshar Patel. We produce up to 170 events a year and the challenge is always going to be content delivery. We overcome it by separating content so it engages members to attend an event that is specific to that subject matter.
MS. What would be your top recommendations to get the most value out of an event?
- Incorporate local experiences, service providers, and community leaders
- Invest in AV/Production and messaging, this will resonate after the event is done
- Create networking opportunities, that’s essentially what events are for
MS. Please tell us about your hobbies and other activities that you would love to do at home.
Akshar Patel. I am a trained vocalist in Hindustani Classical and light music. Aside from work, I am heavily engaged in volunteer work with the BAPS Organization throughout the world which keeps me grounded and teaches me the path of personal and professional life. I am blessed to be around a great family where my wife and two beautiful daughters constantly support me but also are some of my closest teachers and advisors.
MS. Would you like to share any message with the industry?
Akshar Patel. Do not be afraid to try new things and speak up on how to change our events ecosystem. If no one does it, who will!