Everything is bigger in Texas, and this year AAHOA took its biggest event of the year to the next level in Houston as hosted its 2013 Annual Convention & Trade Show from March 26-29, at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
With a near record turnout, the entire event was an enormous success. In fact, the entire event was so successful that AAHOA received a special Congressional Recognition from U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) who personally presented AAHOA with a certificate during the closing Gala Night celebration on Friday, March 29.
Earlier in the week, the two-day trade show surpassed previous marks by welcoming more than 400 exhibitors. As the largest annual gathering of hoteliers, AAHOA’s Annual Convention attracts hoteliers and vendors from all over the country to network, to make deals, and to take advantage of superior professional development opportunities. The theme of this year’s AAHOA Annual Convention was “Inspired by the Past, Building for the Future,” and it fittingly captured the energy and passion of AAHOA members as they gathered in the heart of Texas.
As always, the AAHOA Annual Convention featured captivating guest speakers. The Keynote speaker on Thursday, March 28 was General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.). For over 50 years, General Powell has devoted his life to public service. Having held senior military and diplomatic positions across four presidential administrations, Powell’s deep commitment to democratic value and freedom has been felt throughout the world.
He received a commission as an Army second lieutenant upon graduation in 1958 and went on to serve in the United States Army for 35 years, rising to the rank of Four-Star General. From 1987 – 1989, Powell served as President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor. He served from 1989 – 1993 as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for both President George H.W. Bush and for President Bill Clinton, and was not only the youngest officer and first ROTC graduate to ever serve in the position but also was the first African American to do so.
In all areas, he used the power of diplomacy to build trust, forge alliances and then help transform these unstable regions into areas where societies and cultures have the potential to prosper. He also worked at the forefront of American efforts to advance economic and social development worldwide.
AAHOA also welcomed Steve Forbes, the well-known CEO of Forbes and Editor-In-Chief of Forbes magazine, as well as PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra K. Nooyi during the Opening General Session on Wednesday, March 27 and Howard Putnam, the former President & CEO of Southwest Airlines, during the General Session on Friday, March 29.
“This stellar lineup of speakers and icons within their respective industries just set the stage for one of our best conventions ever,” said AAHOA Chairman Mehul Patel. “AAHOA members came to Houston from all over the country to learn from the best in terms of how to achieve the highest levels of success.” In addition to these dynamic speakers, AAHOA presented an Industry Issues Panel discussion moderated by former AAHOA Chairman H.P. Rama. This discussion included industry executives such as Wayne Goldberg, President & CEO of La Quinta Corporation; Kirk Kinsell, President, The Americas of InterContinental Hotels Group; Steve Joyce, President & CEO of Choice Hotels International; and Arne Sorenson, President & CEO of Marriott International.
These high-profile industry leaders discussed a wide range of issues affecting the hospitality industry. They also provided insights regarding strategies and solutions to overcome the biggest obstacles facing the industry. AAHOA’s Annual Convention showcased an exciting lineup of education sessions in addition to special conferences for both our Young Professionals on Wednesday, March 27 and Women in Hotel Leadership on Thursday, March 28. During these interactive sessions, attendees heard from industry professionals along with legal and financial experts on how to handle the biggest issues confronting the hospitality industry today.
“Being from the great state of Texas and hosting this Annual Convention in my own backyard, I can honestly say that all of the enthusiasm from both our attendees and exhibitors for this weeklong event was more than justified,” said Chairman Mehul Patel, who was also Convention Chair for 2013. “Every aspect of our agenda was carefully planned to offer a well-rounded experience that our attendees will never forget.”
Attendees also enjoyed mouth-watering Indian cuisine and dazzling entertainment featuring some of Bollywood’s biggest names, including Mauli Dave and her team of dancers, singers, and musicians on Wednesday, March 27. Thursday night’s entertainment showcased some of the hottest names in comedy as attendees enjoyed performances by Dan Nainan, Kapil Sharma and Mantra.
Of course, no AAHOA Annual Convention & Trade Show would be complete without a spectacular Gala Night celebration. On the final night of the event, Friday, March 29, AAHOA hosted a night to remember featuring top-notch cuisine and entertainment. Headlining this year’s Gala Night were electric performances by Richa Sharma and Kamal.
“AAHOA Annual Conventions are already known throughout the industry for providing a wealth of personal and professional growth opportunities, and this year’s event did not disappoint,” said AAHOA President Fred Schwartz. “The energy and passion was apparent from minute one, and this event offered something for everyone.”
The Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) is THE voice of owners in the hospitality industry. Founded in 1989, AAHOA is now one of the fastest-growing organizations in the industry, with more than 11,000 members owning more than 20,000 hotels that total $128 billion in property value. AAHOA members employ 578,600 full- and part-time workers with a $9.4 billion payroll. AAHOA Officers include Chairman Mehul Patel, CHA, CHO; Vice Chairman Pratik Patel, CHA, CHO, MBA, MSIS; Treasurer Jay “Jimmy” Patel, CHO; Secretary Bharat “Bruce” Patel, CHO; and President Fred Schwartz, each of whom works closely with a 33-member Board of Directors to provide direction for the association. AAHOA is dedicated to promoting and protecting the interests of its members by inspiring excellence through programs and initiatives in advocacy, industry leadership, professional development, member benefits, and community involvement.