BOSTON—The International Society of Hotel Associations (ISHA) is celebrating anniversaries of six of its hotel lodging organization members: Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association (80 years), California Hotel & Lodging Association (125 years), Colorado Hotel & Lodging Association (80 years), Hotel Association of New York City (140 years), Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association (125 years) and Texas Hotel & Lodging Association (115 years), whose 2018 and 2019 anniversaries mark a combined 665 years of operation and service.
Representing only a fraction of ISHA’s 42 members—on the whole, the members offer a combined 2,000 years of experience—the milestones are indicative of the importance of associations to the industry. ISHA strives to be the unified voice of lodging associations throughout the United States, Canada and the Caribbean, offering extensive advocacy, information, networking and professional resources for its members. Wanting to reach a broader audience, the organization recently changed its name from The International Society of Hotel Association Executives, reflecting that ISHA membership is not only for executives, but all staff of its member organizations.
“ISHA member associations represent more than 30,000 members across the United States by providing advocacy on business issues that impact their day-to-day business and by protecting them from regulatory challenges,” said Eric Terry, ISHA board chair/president of the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association. “As such, they provide a hotel and lodging industry voice to elected officials.”
Hotel associations have long been an integral part of the industry, initially created to provide European-style training in five-star service for the U.S. workers who were hired at the new luxury hotels being built in U.S. cities at the beginning of the 20th century. Many of these properties are still around today: The Waldorf Astoria New York; The St. Regis New York; The Sherry-Netherland in New York; the Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, in Phoenix; Dallas’ The Adolphus, Autograph Collection; The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, CO; and the InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco, to name a few.
Of course, training and education remain key components of hospitality organizations today—and ISHA is no different. A priority for the organization, subjects now covered have expanded to reflect the growth of the lodging industry and the societal changes and challenges facing hoteliers today.
“With the recent push for minimum wage increases, elimination of tipped wages and predictive scheduling, among other issues, the lodging industry is under significant pressure,” Terry said. “Disruptors such as Airbnb and other short-term lodging facilitators are operating on an un-level playing field. The numerous regulatory hurdles implemented in recent years have been a major focus within the industry to be eliminated or rolled back.”
Certainly, competition is fierce and smart hoteliers use every resource they have to stand above the rest. In ISHA’s opinion, this includes being the best in a variety of ways: An increasingly diverse workforce calls for knowledgeable human-resources and labor-relations policies; sustainability efforts are often under legal mandates, but can also be used as an effective marketing tool as guests demand policies and services that include recycling, reduced use of plastics, locally sourced food and consideration of animal welfare; hoteliers must be concerned with safety and security issues, including fire prevention and criminal activity, from theft and drug abuse to human trafficking; and conference planners demand greater security for information and electronic devices, which calls for a higher level of technical sophistication than in the past.
“In addition, ISHA serves as a conduit of information that supports our members’ efforts to deal with these issues, particularly where state and local advocacy is concerned,” said Christina Pappas, executive director of ISHA. Given the complex issues in the legislative environment, ISHA believes state lodging associations’ advocacy programs play an important role in helping hotels, local tourism associations and CVBs to present the industry’s position on issues to the necessary legislative authorities.
Looking toward the future of the industry, Terry is positive.
“As the major brands are developing new brand extensions, it is creating many new opportunities for new hotel development or conversions of existing hotels,” he said. “The strong economy has encouraged hotel owners to re-invest in their assets. The industry is in a strong position for continued growth.” HB