Monday, February 17, 2014

Renewed National Partnership

ORLA is once again a partner with the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) effective with the start of the New Year. The board and staff are enthusiastic with the changes being made in AH&LA’s mission, staff and approach to representing the industry. The AH&LA Board heard the concerns from many state associations regarding the collection and payment of dues at the state level and acted upon them in a very proactive manner that is to their credit. They all bode well for a stronger, more effective and focused national trade association to represent your interests.

ORLA had ended its partner state agreement with AH&LA two years ago after a great deal of review and discussion. At that time, the agreement created issues and limited membership sales for your association. Oregon was not the only state to raise these concerns. At the time we ended our partner state agreement, nearly one third of the state associations weren’t working with their national association. Clearly something had to be done.

AH&LA’s leadership recognized the need for change to ensure the association’s continued relevance in Washington DC and across the nation and to position the association for long-term success and survival. The board commissioned an industry-wide survey of the 575 key stakeholders in the industry to discover what the membership, state associations, members and staff of AH&LA wanted their national association to provide the industry in way of programs and services. They took those findings, developed committees consisting of all the stakeholders mentioned above, and started the planning process. New funding strategies and by-laws were the result as well as a more focused mission statement and strategic plan. Advocacy and communications to members and the public were the main focus. State associations will no longer be required to collect and forward dues to AH&LA unless they choose to do so with payment for their efforts and the national dues were lowered. State associations will now pay dues at a much lower level to be a partner state with AH&LA.

Since the AH&LA membership approved all of these changes a great deal has happened. Katherine Lugar was hired as the President & CEO and charged with implementing the many changes the new plan called for, which she has done at a thorough and rapid pace. The Government Affairs team has been turned over, the quality and amount of communications coming from the national office is greatly improved and the budget is much higher with the new funding program. In short, Katherine and her staff have done a terrific job of implementing a very demanding plan that has restructured and positioned AH&LA for the future.

What this means for ORLA members is better representation in DC, improved information on national issues being available to you, and lower dues to be an ORLA member (by 40 percent). By the way, we opted to continue to sell AH&LA memberships to the independent lodging operators who choose to be AH&LA members at the rate of $2 per room. It isn’t required to join ORLA but certainly is an option that we strongly urge you to consider and support.

The board and staff of ORLA are very excited about the new AH&LA and what it means for the industry. It is refreshing to work with an organization who listened to the concerns of the states and other stakeholders, found out what they wanted and then developed a plan to deliver that in a very timely manner. We’re proud to be a partner with that team and look forward to working with them to provide you with seamless coverage of your needs at the state and national levels. | Steve McCoid, president & CEO, ORLA