Friday, February 5, 2016

Realignment, Deeper Engagement on Your Doorstep

Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association is ramping up an important process to dig deep and implement a rolling strategic plan for the future of the organization. We are now over five years past the merger of the association, which brought lodging and restaurant members under the same umbrella of advocacy and connectivity. Many things have gone well and other areas we are excited to enhance.

As we look to the future, here are some samplings of what you can expect from your association as we further the value proposition for our lodging partners.

The Expansion of Guest Service Gold® Customer Service Training
Over 200 hospitality professionals in Oregon have already been trained through the ORLA Education Foundation’s new training product, Guest Service Gold. The launch has been made possible by the support of the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute and Travel Oregon. Contact Wendy Popkin with ORLA’s Education Foundation to learn more about adding a new dose of confidence to our front line hospitality workers who have lasting impressions on the guest experience.

Relaunching the ORLA Lodging Policy Committee
In one of ORLA’s most recent scientific polls of the membership, lodging members expressed that the value of greatest importance is industry representation. Our goals will include statewide industry representation, consistent participation, and establishing a regular meeting schedule to tackle the advocacy issues of importance to members.

Online Travel Companies
In my first five months on the job, it has become clear that more exploration is needed to look at how ORLA can assist our independent lodging members in negotiations with online travel companies who carry significant leverage in their talks with this segment of our membership. Given the supply filled by these elusive partners, what can ORLA do to pool the collective power of independents? The issue needs a deep dive.

Human Trafficking
We will not shy away from uncomfortable issues that impact our industry and the professionals that work within it. We recently held a brainstorming session about the importance of introducing legislation in Oregon that could create rehabilitation services needed specifically for victims of human trafficking to break the cycle of abuse as well as harsher punishments for individuals seeking these services. We remain optimistic that a viable partnership between ORLA, lawmakers, law enforcement, and district attorneys is in the works and that our work will be driven by real outcomes that have the potential to change lives.

These issues and others will continue to be explored as we do our best to expand and enhance our deliverables to the lodging industry. We look forward to working with you to accomplish important goals for our future. Our work always starts with your feedback.

Feel free to email me with your suggestions at | Jason Brandt, President & CEO

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

You Asked, We Listened: ORLA Launches Health Plan

Get a health plan quote
The federal healthcare requirements are upon us and as much as the country has tried to avoid the implications of full implementation, it is here to stay. In a recent survey, 97 percent of ORLA’s membership told us to dig in and find a solution. So we did.

Starting in 2016, businesses with 50 or more full-time equivalent (FTE) employees will be on the hook to pay for the healthcare of any employees working 30 hours or more per week. And if you don’t, say hello to a fine of $2,000 per full-time (30 hours or more) employee per year. That’s right – these fines come knocking every single year.

The year 2016 is a monumental one for healthcare. Through 2015, businesses were able to deduct a total of 80 full-time employees from their fine obligations which led to the majority of businesses having zero liability for the year. In 2016, that changes as the federal government changes the full-time employee deduction to 30. In other words, if you have the equivalent of 50 or more full-time employees and have over 30 employees working 30 hours or more a week (full-time), you will be charged $2,000 per full-time employee over the magic 30 threshold.

At first glance this may seem like a bigger business issue to you. Don’t buy into that trap. As the new fines unfold, employers are bound to see more healthcare coverages for workers emerging in the marketplace creating major competition amongst big and small employers for workers. In the not too distant future, mom and pop location “X” may start to lose their employees to bigger business “Y” because bigger business “Y” is now offering some form of a healthcare plan to their workers to avoid federal fines.

The shifts in the marketplace are coming and the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association is ready with a solution. As of December 1, 2015, ORLA’s health plan options are available for members big and small but will be a member only benefit for active businesses in the association.

For under $49 per full-time worker per month, member businesses will be able to join the ORLA Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) Plan giving each subscriber access to preventative care. In addition, the plan will save large employers from excessive federal fines for not offering coverage and will protect all workers signed up in the plan from individual yearly fines that are incurred when they don’t have health coverage.

In addition, ORLA will offer a MEC Plus Plan for under $69 per full-time worker per month that provides access for each worker to four doctor office visits a year.

Both plans will become a major solution for our industry and member businesses due to their ability to protect employers and their employees from fines while offering an affordable health coverage option to businesses interested in adding a perk to their workforce benefits.

The healthcare evolution in the United States is at our doorstep and we will all feel it one way or the other. Do yourself a favor and take action by owning the solution that has been vetted and packaged for you through your membership.

Visit for more information and to get a quote.

Not a member yet? Email our membership department and we’ll get you squared away. | Jason Brandt, President & CEO

Thursday, July 23, 2015

ORLA to Welcome Change in Leadership

Jason Brandt
After a 32 year career in association management, and a terrific experience it has been by the way, I will be retiring in October. The decision to do so was made after a great deal of thought as I truly enjoy my job. It is an honor to represent ORLA’s members as I very much admire their passion for the industry, the jobs that they produce and the communities that they positively affect every day. Working to protect their rights, represent their positions on issues, provide them with needed information and educate their workforces made every work day something I looked forward to with enthusiasm. That is a gift that many don’t receive in life and one I value greatly.

However, there does come a time when you know it is time to move on to another chapter in your life. That time arrived for me last year. I came to grips with the fact that the energy level I’d always tapped to meet all my work obligations was much lower that it had been. I finally decided, or more truthfully knew, that it was time for ORLA to have a new CEO to lead the association in the challenging and changing times ahead.

So, working with ORLA’s Executive Committee, we developed a succession plan last summer. That plan laid out the search process, the type of person the board wanted to replace me with, and a timeframe for getting all of this done and the replacement hired. The search began in September of last year and culminated in the selection and hiring of my replacement in February of this year. A contract has been signed and your new CEO will start his new career on August 10, 2015.

Your new leader will be Jason Brandt who is currently the CEO of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce. Jason has worked for the Salem Chamber the past 11 years beginning immediately after graduating from Pacific Lutheran University. Jason grew up in Salem and lives there now with his wife Natalie and their two daughters. He has served as CEO of the Salem Chamber for over four years and is a leader in the chamber world in Oregon and the Western region of the country. He brings with him a thorough understanding of association management principles and law, nearly five years of association management experience, experience in the government affairs arena both at the state and local level, and an enthusiastic, people-oriented can-do attitude that will mean great things for Oregon’s hospitality industry.

I’ll be working with Jason getting him familiarized with all things ORLA through September. You might watch for us as I’m sure we’ll be traveling about the state introducing Jason to ORLA’s thousands of members (see ORLA Convention). Serving as CEO of the association is a demanding job and Jason’s skill set will serve him in good stead as he moves into his new position.

I can’t tell you what a joy and honor it has been to be allowed to lead the association. I know what a great job the ORLA team does every day representing your interests. The ever-changing, challenging times the industry has been through have certainly left you with an experienced team of professionals who know how to produce results. That will serve you and Jason with excellence in the years to come. You’re sure to see new ideas, innovative solutions and a fresh, new look at industry challenges from Jason – all good things that are healthy for ORLA. If you’re not already a member, please consider joining ORLA and supporting what will be another great era in ORLA’s long and distinguished history of representing the industry’s interests. Jason and your business need and deserve that support and participation. | Steve McCoid, President & CEO

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Restaurant Neighbor Award Winners To Be Recognized for Community Engagement

Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) announced the state winners of the acclaimed National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s (NRAEF) Restaurant Neighbor Award. The national winners were chosen in early February from state awardees by a panel of restaurant and foodservice industry leaders from across the country. Oregon finalists were then considered among all other state winners for a national award of $5,000 at the gala awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 2015.

The Restaurant Neighbor Award, developed in partnership with American Express, celebrates the outstanding charitable service performed by restaurant operators throughout the U.S. With nine in 10 restaurants involved in community service, this award recognizes the impact restaurants and entrepreneurs have made on their local communities.

“The involvement and dedication these restaurants have shown in support of local charitable programs is commendable and exemplifies the spirit of our industry and our state,” said Steve McCoid, ORLA President & CEO.

The 2015 Restaurant Neighbor Award winners from Oregon are:

Beau Delicious International, LLC dba Café Yumm!, Eugene
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Bandon
Cattlemen’s Saloon, Rogue River
Po’Shines, Portland

Award recipients will be recognized among their peers at the Hospitality Industry Awards Dinner, October 4, 2015, during ORLA’s Convention in Bend, Oregon. A complete list of Oregon’s hospitality industry awards can be found at For more information on ORLA’s Convention, visit or call 800.462.0619.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Advocating on Behalf of Oregon's Hospitality Industry

Oregon State Capitol
Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association’s (ORLA) stripped down mission statement to “advocate, communicate and educate Oregon’s hospitality industry” has been discussed frequently in this publication. These three words are the reason ORLA exists, however, there is nothing like real world examples of how ORLA is meeting these goals to illustrate the point. I’ll give you some examples below.

We’re certainly in the midst of providing advocacy for you by representing the industry at the 78th Oregon Legislative Session, which began in February 2015. Your association is tracking over 300 bills that could affect your business. The most visible are statewide paid sick leave, a variety of proposals increasing the minimum wage between $12 and $15 an hour, a bill that requires work schedules be written two weeks out for foodservice operations with a penalty for any subsequent changes, and a cancellation of the ban on local governments passing their own minimum wages. ORLA’s lobbyist, Bill Perry, is at the Capitol daily representing your interests to the legislators and working to ensure all damaging legislation is not passed.

ORLA held its bi-annual Taste Oregon Legislative reception on February 17th, drawing over 225 industry members in attendance including a significant number of legislators and their staffers. Here, we’re talking about advocacy in terms of interacting with legislators, and communication by informing our members of the issues being dealt with in Salem. 

ORLA’s Education Foundation helps meet the educational mission by producing the annual OregonProStart High School Culinary Championships. This year’s event was held at Spirit Mountain Casino in Grand Ronde. There were 20 teams competing in an event that requires teams of four to plan and cook a 3-course meal in one hour using two gas burners while properly handling and prepping the food. The winning team from South Salem High School will compete in the National ProStart Invitational in Anaheim representing Oregon.

Finally, we are in the midst of preparing for and planning the annual Northwest Foodservice Show with our partners at the Washington Restaurant Association. The largest foodservice show in the Northwest, this typically draws over 5,000 and will be held in Portland this year at the Convention Center, April 26-27. We’re anticipating 400 booths featuring the latest in products and services plus a full agenda of educational seminars, new product listings and chef presentations. 

That’s just a sampling of the work and services ORLA delivered to the industry in the first quarter of 2015. For those who haven’t become ORLA members yet, please consider joining. All it takes is a call or email to get a helpful representative to review all the programs membership provides. We look forward to working with you as we support our great industry. | Steve McCoid, President & CEO,
Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association

Monday, December 22, 2014

ORLA Keeps You Up to Date on Emerging Issues

Ebola, marijuana, data security. These are all current topics that we’ve seen in the news, deal with in our businesses, and that represent challenges to anyone managing a lodging property. Some of these are new, some are issues you might think you’d never deal with, and some are issues that you’ve dealt with that keep changing due to on-going improvements in technology. In all cases, they are matters that you need to know about and know how to deal with if they arrive at your place of business. Our December issue of Lodging News addresses each of these topics for you.

You’re busy running your business on a daily basis. You don’t have the time to keep up with these and the many other issues that crop up daily and monthly to affect your profitability. That is a major reason ORLA exists. We are here to communicate these types of issues to you through communication vehicles like our two magazines, e-newsletters, special e-bulletins and our website.

ORLA provides you a one-stop, go-to organization that you can utilize to stay up to date on these emerging issues. Oh, and by the way, we also advocate for reasonable, manageable solutions at the state and local levels to the policy makers who react to the onset of these challenges with new laws, ordinances and regulations.

You need to be up to date. You need to be responsive. You need to be aware of new and emerging issues. You need to be able to answer questions raised by your customers. You can attempt to find the answers on your own, or you can support ORLA and have that one-stop place to get your questions answered accurately and in a timely manner. Give us a try. I guarantee you’ll like the results and make your business lives just a little bit easier and less stressful while doing so. | Steve McCoid, ORLA President & CEO

Friday, October 10, 2014

Recognizing Pride and Passion

Lodging Operator of the Year Craig Thompson (center)
ORLA recognized four hospitality professionals at our annual Awards Banquet during the convention last month in Bend. The Lodging Operator of the Year was awarded to Craig Thompson, GM of the Hotel Monaco in Portland. Craig’s long, successful, influential and continuing 44-year career was highlighted. He was recognized not only for running the #2 rated Oregon hotel by TripAdvisor, but for the leadership role he played in a number of other industry organizations, and for the influence he has had through mentoring employees who have moved on to successful management careers. In fact, Craig pointed with pride to the fact that the #1 TripAdvisor rated hotel in Oregon is managed by a former employee and front desk manager that Craig hired and mentored! All of the award winners are listed along with links to their videos on ORLA’s website ( I encourage you to check them out as they are all terrific representatives of what makes the hospitality industry great. You’ll see the passion they have for their jobs and this industry and see that it hasn’t waned during their long careers.

In this issue, you’re going to be treated to a wonderful feature story that highlights the philanthropic programs several lodging companies operate to benefit their communities and the state. They’ve developed these programs to support charities that resonate with their team members. Those team members participate in the fundraising design and implementation throughout the year. Those results translate into contributions to designated charities that benefit those in need in their areas. The result for the business is engaged employees who are introduced to these types of charitable activities; a development of teamwork as all the employees get involved in the planning, fundraising and presentation of their hard work; and a very real, personal and professional feeling of accomplishment and pride by all involved.

The thing that links the award winners and the teams of the businesses highlighted in the article is passion. The award winners succeeded in their careers because they discovered and brought a passion for what they did every day. That passion could be seen on the awards night as they graciously and humbly received their well-deserved recognition. They all spoke about the love for their jobs. They transmitted their passion for what they do in their brief remarks to everyone in the room.
Similarly, the people quoted in the article this month cited the passion that their employees felt for being involved in a philanthropic program. They tell you how it creates a real link among everyone on the team and improves their view and appreciation of their employer. They do it because it is right – not because they want to benefit from it. They do it because the team has become passionate about the programs and taken ownership of it.

Passion is certainly the operative word here, isn’t it? The passion for serving people is what makes a successful hospitality industry professional. Whether is it the front desk person, a server, a concierge or a room service person it is passion for what they do that makes the difference between excellence and ‘just okay’ for them in their job and, ultimately, for you as the employer.

I can tell you with pride that your association is staffed with people who are passionate about serving you and the industry. All you need to do is reach out and ask for assistance, answers or information on an ORLA program. You’ll get what you need quickly and enthusiastically from a professional, trained to serve you and your needs. Remember us when you need assistance or information. We’re here to serve you and are passionate about doing so. | Steve McCoid, ORLA President & CEO