AAHOA CEO talks Trump, franchisees and why he doesn't want back into politics

Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AAHOA
Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AAHOA.

AAHOA’s president and CEO Chip Rogers spent time as a politician. Once a Georgia state senator, politics continues to follow him as he heads a hotel membership organization with close to 18,000 members whose daily lives are impacted by national and local legislation. It’s a lot to deal with, but Rogers does his job with a coolness that belies a fierceness to do right by his constituency. 

1) You have been president and CEO of AAHOA for three years now. What do you enjoy most about your job and what is the most difficult part about it? 

As the president and CEO of AAHOA, I get to work with 18,000 entrepreneurs every day. Their embodiment of the American Dream is truly inspirational and a constant reminder of the success that is possible under our free enterprise system. Advocating on their behalf and helping to build an organization that serves as a valuable resource to them, their businesses, and their employees is incredibly fulfilling. With AAHOA’s speedy growth, as with any organization, difficulties can arise in reshaping the organizational structure and shifting priorities to facilitate growth and efficiency. That said, I have the privilege of working with a forward-thinking board of directors and officers who understand the need for continued growth as we become the voice of all of America’s hotel owners.

2) What is the single greatest threat facing the hotel franchisee right now and what is AAHOA doing to address it? 

The bureaucratic flip-flopping over the National Labor Relation Board’s calamitous 2015 Browning-Ferris Industries decision on the joint-employer standard is the greatest threat to franchisees. While the NLRB reversed that decision in December of 2017, they reverted to the 2015 ruling only a few months later because of a technicality. Franchisees simply cannot afford this sort of uncertainty in the market and grossly politicized incompetence in government. Fortunately, new NLRB Chairman John Ring signaled a willingness to revisit questions surrounding the joint-employer standard through the rulemaking process which can bring certainty to the market and ensure that franchisees can maintain control over their own employees. It’s not a permanent fix though, for future administrations could still arbitrarily change the rules in the middle of the game. That’s why AAHOA and our industry partners are pushing for a statutory definition of the historical joint employer standard in Congress. H.R. 3441, the Save Local Business Act, would create such a definition, and the bill passed the House last year. If it passes the Senate and becomes law, future administrations would be required to seek congressional approval before they tried to take away an employer’s right to control their own employees. 

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3) AAHOA is composed of many first- and second-generation hoteliers. What is the biggest difference between the two generations? 

One generational difference I’ve observed is that more second-generation hoteliers are focusing on the brokerage and financial components of the industry in addition to hotel ownership. That’s not to say that was not a focus of first-generation hoteliers, but growing up with parents in the industry gives second-generation hoteliers a distinct advantage in their understanding of how business is done, and many of them are choosing to capitalize on that knowledge across various sectors of the industry.

4) You’ve been outspoken about your support for President Donald Trump and his administration’s policies. How are they good for AAHOA’s membership and how do they differ from the previous administration’s?  

I am outspoken in my support of any elected official who prioritizes the needs of America’s small-business owners. As the first hotelier elected to the presidency, President Trump understands our industry like no one else before him. The policies pursued by his administration offer an aggressive track for growth in the hotel industry. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a boon for hoteliers as they can use significant tax savings to grow their businesses, renovate existing properties, raise wages and undertake new development projects. The potential reversal of the Browning-Ferris Industries decision will return certainty to the franchise market. His appointments to various government boards and administrations are demonstrating to America’s job creators that government will not stand in the way of economic progress any longer. This is an administration of action and vision, and the hotel industry couldn’t be happier. I think this administration’s policies differ from the previous administration’s in that they were too hung up on process and lost sight of what they wanted to accomplish. Too many decisions were made by political appointees and unelected bureaucrats, and things sort of went off the rails when it came to advancing policies that encourage sustained economic growth.

5) Your prior life included a stint in the Georgia State Senate. Would you ever rule out another run for public office? 

I enjoyed my time serving the people of Georgia and working on meaningful legislation to improve my community and my state. It was a great and fulfilling experience, but I do not miss politics. To turn that question around a bit, I like to think about how my experiences with elected office help with my work at AAHOA. Like politics, successful businesses are built on relationships and the ability to grow and maintain them. Whether it’s developing strategies for issue advocacy, building alliances, or seeking new endeavors to promote our free enterprise system, I am always looking for ways to use my experience to bring about positive change.

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