Miraj S. Patel talks AAHOACON24 and the year ahead

The 2024 AAHOA Convention & Trade Show (AAHOACON24), held last month at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, attracted nearly 6,500 attendees and a record 524 exhibitors. At the conclusion of the four-day event, Miraj S. Patel, president, Wayside Investment Group, ascended to the role of the organization’s chairman of the board of directors.

Patel took time out of his already-busy schedule to talk to Hotel Business about the event and what’s to come in his one-year term as chairman.

“This year’s convention & trade show was remarkable in terms of the energy and positive feedback from attendees and exhibitors,” said Patel. “AAHOACON is where the industry comes to make deals and do business. One of our members noted that our industry is ever-changing, so attending AAHOACON allows her to make new partnerships, meet new people and see how she can improve to keep her business growing. That is a good summary of the value of AAHOACON.”

Pinal Patel, a second-generation hotelier from Goodlettsville, TN, who previously served as an AAHOA ambassador and as the association’s director at large, Eastern Division, was voted in at the convention as the board’s new secretary.

“Pinal is laser-focused on bringing value to members and serving others,” said the chairman. “In the secretary debate at AAHOACON24, he told the members he would work to find more creative answers and solutions for them on issues such as insurance, procurement, legal assistance and women and youth empowerment. I look forward to working with him, alongside the AAHOA board, to stay focused on these matters because they impact all hoteliers.”

AAHOA also announced a revision to its 12 Points of Fair Franchising—specifically, Point Number 12: Sale of the Franchise System Hotel Brand(s)—that recommends that each franchise agreement now include a “change of control” clause to protect the franchisees in the event of a purchase, sale, acquisition or merger of a brand.

“This is being recommended due to the growing number of acquisitions and mergers of brands in recent years,” Miraj Patel said. “Many franchisees in the hotel industry have no standard existing clause, meaning they are not afforded an opportunity to decide their future options if a different franchisor acquires their hotel brand. This tool keeps our franchisee members’ best interests in mind and can help our members while they’re negotiating their franchise agreements as an educational resource.”

As soon as AAHOACON24 was done, the chairman began focusing on his goals for the year ahead. He said they fall under two categories—those that impact AAHOA members and those that are more industry-focused.

“In terms of AAHOA,” he said, “my goals are focused on reinventing our events; providing better member assistance; encouraging legislation and ordinances for cities across the country; and addressing the workforce shortage, and then improving our education offerings such as creating more programs and re-energizing the how we deliver education to our members.”

He continued, “Regarding the industry, we have identified the top challenges that we will focus on during the coming year. Some of these include the impact of profitability on brands; industry disruptors such as short-term rentals; costs; and how the existing hotel business model and rate model impact our net operating income.”

AAHOACON25 will take place on April 15-18, 2025, at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, where Patel will hand over the chairman reins to Kamalesh (KP) Patel.

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