History of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association


AAHOA (Asian American Hotel Owners Association) is a trade association that represents hotel owners. In 2022, AAHOA has about 20,000 members who own 60% of the hotels in the United States and are responsible for 1.7% of the country’s GDP. More than one million employees work at AAHOA member-owned hotels, earning $47 billion annually and providing 4.2 million U.S. jobs across all sectors of the hospitality industry .

American Indians in the hotel and motel industry faced early discrimination, both from the insurance industry and from competitors placing “American-owned” signs at the entrance. off their properties to get them out of business. Another group of Indian hoteliers was formed in Atlanta in 1989 to address issues of discrimination and raise awareness among Asian Americans working in the hospitality industry under the name Asian American Hotel Owners Association.

The Asian American Hotel Owners Association was originally founded to fight racism.

As early as the mid-1970s, American Indian hoteliers faced discrimination from banks and insurance companies. Around the same time, after delegates to a regional fire marshals convention reported that Patels had burned down their motels and submitted false claims, insurance brokers refused to sell insurance to Indian homeowners.

To combat this and other forms of discrimination, the Mid-South Indemnity Association was formed in Tennessee. It expanded nationwide and eventually changed its name to INDO American Hospitality Association. Another group of Indian hoteliers met in Atlanta in 1989 also to address issues of discrimination and increase Asian American awareness of the hospitality industry. With the help of Michael Leven, then president of Days Inn of America, they formed the Asian American Hotel Owners Association. At the end of 1994, these two groups merged with the following mission:

AAHOA provides an active forum in which Asian American hotel owners, through the exchange of ideas in a unified voice, can communicate, interact and secure their position in the hospitality industry, and be a source of inspiration by promoting professionalism and excellence through education and community involvement.

The new owners brought their business expertise and their families to operate these motels. They instituted modern accounting techniques to monitor very large cash flows. Four times cash has become the Patels’ mantra. If the distressed motel produced $10,000 a year in revenue and could be acquired for $40,000, it was profitable for a hard-working family.

They renovated and upgraded run-down motels to improve cash flow, sold the properties, and traded in for better motels. It was not without difficulties. Conventional insurance companies would not provide coverage because they believed these immigrant owners would burn down their motels. At that time, banks were unlikely to grant mortgages either. The Patels had to fund each other and insure their properties themselves.

In a July 4, 1999, New York Times article, journalist Tunku Vardarajan wrote: “The first owners, in a manner consistent with many emerging immigrant groups, skimped, passed on old socks and never took a vacation. They did this not just to save money, but also because saving is part of a larger moral framework, which views all non-essential spending as wasteful and unappealing. It’s an attitude underpinned by a puritanical aversion to frills and frivolities, an attitude that has its roots as much in the type of Hinduism the Patels practice as in their historical tradition of commercial perfectionists.

Author Joel Millman writes in The other Americans Viking, 1997, New York:

Patels has taken a dormant, mature industry and turned it upside down, giving consumers more choice while making the properties themselves more profitable. Motels that attracted billions in immigrant savings have turned into real estate equity worth billions more. This capital, managed by a new generation, is put to good use in new ventures. Some are related to lodging (making motel supplies); some related to real estate (recovery of abandoned housing); some simply money looking for an opportunity. The Patel-motel model is an example, like the West Indian jitneys of New York, of how immigrant initiative widens the pie. And there’s another lesson: as the economy shifts from manufacturing to services, the Patel-motel phenomenon demonstrates how franchising can turn an outsider into a mainstream player. The Gujarati motel model could be copied by Latinos in landscaping, West Indians in home care or Asians in office services. By operating a turnkey franchise as a family business, immigrants will help grow an endless stream of service providers.

As investment and ownership grew, the Patels were charged with a wide variety of crimes: arson, laundering stolen travelers checks, circumventing immigration laws. In an unpleasant burst of xenophobia, frequent traveler magazine (Summer 1981) said, “Foreign investment has come to the motel industry…causing serious problems for American buyers and brokers. These Americans, in turn, grumble against unfair, possibly illegal, business practices: there is even talk of a conspiracy. The magazine complained that the Patels had artificially raised motel prices to induce a buying frenzy. The article ended with an unmistakably racist remark: “Comments are circulating about curry-smelling motels and dark hints about immigrants hiring Caucasians to work the front desk. The article concluded, “The facts are that immigrants are playing hardball in the motel industry and perhaps not strictly by the rules.” The worst visible manifestation of such racism was a rash of “American-owned” banners displayed in some hotels across the country. This hateful manifestation has been repeated in post-9/11 America.

In my article, “How American-Owned Can You Get”, (Accommodation HospitalityAugust 2002), I wrote:

“After September. 11 America, signs of patriotism are everywhere: flags, slogans, God Bless America and United We Stand posters. Unfortunately, this outpouring sometimes exceeds the limits of democracy and decent behavior. After all, true patriotism encompasses the best features of our founding documents, and the best of America is reflected in its diversity. Conversely, the worst is reflected when any group tries to define “American” in its own image. Unfortunately, a few hotel owners have attempted to portray their own “American” version. When in late 2002 the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City put up an entrance banner that read “an American-owned hotel,” the owners tried to deflect criticism by explaining, “The question of American ownership is basically not derogatory towards other hotels. We want to provide our customers with an American experience. We want people to know that they are going to have an American experience. We’re not really interested in what other hotels are or aren’t.

This explanation is as wrong as it gets. What is an “American experience” in a country that prides itself on its cultural diversity? Is it just white bread, hot dogs and cola? Or does it encompass all of the arts, music, dance, food, culture, and activities that various nationalities and citizens bring to the American experience?

In 1998, AAHOA President Mike Patel announced to the hospitality industry that the time had come to identify AAHOA’s 12 fair franchise points. He said the primary goal was “to create a franchising environment that promotes equality and is mutually beneficial to all parties.”

AAHOA’s 12 Fair Deductible Points

Point 1: Early termination and damages

Point 2: impact/encroachment/inter-brand protection

Point 3: Minimum performance and quality guarantees

Item 4: Quality Assurance Inspections / Customer Surveys

Point 5: Exclusivity of the seller

Item 6: Disclosure and Accountability

Point 7: Maintain relationships with franchisees

Item 8: Dispute resolution

Point 9: Jurisdiction and choice of law clauses

Item 10: Franchise ethics and sales practices

Item 11: Transferability

Point 12: Sale of the Franchise System hotel brand

Stanley Turkel has been named Historian of the Year 2020 by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, for which he was previously nominated in 2015 and 2014. Turkel is the most published hotel consultant in the United States. United. . He operates his hospitality consulting practice as an expert witness in hospitality-related matters, provides advice on hotel asset management and franchising. It is certified Master Hotel Supplier Emeritus by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association. [email protected] 917-628-8549

His new book “Great American Hotel Architects Volume 2” has just been published.

Other published hotel books:

• Major American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hospitality Industry (2009)

• Built to Last: Hotels Over 100 Years Old in New York (2011)

• Built to Last: 100+ Year Old Hotels East of the Mississippi (2013)

• Hotel Mavens: Lucius M. Boomer, George C. Boldt, Waldorf Oscar (2014)

• Great American Hoteliers Volume 2: Pioneers of the Hospitality Industry (2016)

• Built to Last: 100+ Year Old Hotels West of the Mississippi (2017)

• Hotel Mavens Volume 2: Henry Morrison Flagler, Henry Bradley Plant, Carl Graham Fisher (2018)

• Great American Hotel Architects Volume I (2019)

• Hotel Mavens: Volume 3: Bob and Larry Tisch, Ralph Hitz, Cesar Ritz, Curt Strand

All of these books can be ordered from AuthorHouse by visiting stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book title.

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