MIAMI—The National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers’ (NABHOOD) efforts over the years seem to be paying off. The association’s annual conference is gaining recognition, and African Americans in the industry are moving into more prominent roles. But while the future is bright, there’s still more work to be done.
“This year, we had more high-net-worth African Americans attending who were interested in the hotel space and raising institutional funds, including Don Peebles, who is working with NABHOOD to put a $300-million fund together to help minorities,” said Andy Ingraham, president/CEO, NABHOOD. “The organization is engaged with our hotel partners and the NAACP to help bring more diversity and inclusion with real opportunities for African Americans and minorities.”
NABHOOD’s annual summit, which was held in July in Miami this year, is designed to educate attendees on how to become a hotel owner or investor; share lodging and industry trends; teach how to market to minorities; and review diversity issues affecting the lodging industry.
For Ingraham, one of the most exciting things that happened at NABHOOD’s conference this year was having a casual discussion on stage with Chris Nassetta, Hilton’s CEO, about making it to the top as he shared his view on the industry—and diversity and inclusion—with attendees.
However, there’s more to NABHOOD than its annual conference. “NABHOOD has evolved to become a recognized institution within the industry,” said Warren Q. Fields, CEO of Pyramid Hotel Group.
As an organization, NABHOOD has grown over the years and evolved, some say, for the better. “[There’s been] an increased focus on the next generation and women,” said Omari Head, senior associate, Paramount Lodging Advisors. “We have always had a student component, but speaking to the professional community and intentionally engaging women is gaining traction.”
“The message is getting around about hotel ownership and, more importantly, the urgency of cooperative economics,” he said. “The future of NABHOOD looks promising.”
Much has changed in just a few short years, and the association is proud of the direction the industry is heading. “The second largest hotel company in the United States, Park Hotels & Resorts, is run by an African American, and the only lodging REIT led by a woman is run by an African American,” Ingraham said.
There’s been a shift in the development side of the industry, too.
“The last 12 months has seen some great press around black women leading hotel projects, specifically with Choice,” Head said. “There have been other notable, larger deals and developments announced from NABHOOD members as well.”
To better cater to the needs of its members, NABHOOD is in the middle of revamping its website. “Next year, with the growing travel spend—exceeding $90 billion—of African Americans and minorities who have requested African American-owned hotels, they will be able to go to our new website and book one room or 1,000 rooms with our new reservation system,” Ingraham said. “We are currently in discussion with Fortune 500 companies that want to do business with African American-owned hotels, and this new reservation system will give them the same opportunity.”
As for NABHOOD’s future, “It looks younger and exponentially larger,” Head said.
There’s still more work to do. “We need more members; our members need to work together to achieve each other’s goals,” Fields said. “We need to help bring others along in the industry.”
“The future looks great for more new diverse owners, and hotel partners that support NABHOOD are seeing the return on their investment; we hope that the hotel companies that don’t support NABHOOD will see the value as more African American owners and investors enter the industry with our current partners,” Ingraham said.
Be sure to read the 8/21 issue of Hotel Business for coverage of the 23rd Annual International African American Hotel Ownership & Investment Summit & Trade Show. HB