Passion for what he’s doing each and every day is a driving motivator for Chip Rogers. The president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association uses that passion to advocate for the hotel industry today, but it was during his time in the Georgia General Assembly that he made it a requirement.
“When I started and ran my first election, I committed to myself that day that if I no longer had the drive, the kind of the fire in the gut to do it any longer, I would literally step aside and that is exactly what happened,” he said. “I had just been elected to my sixth term and realized one day—and I know the exact place and time that I had this feeling—that I just didn’t have the desire to do it any longer. I never ever wanted to be one of those people that just kind of hung on, that kind of felt like the seat that I had was mine. It was always the people I represented. It was their seat from day one and if I didn’t have the desire and the drive to do it every single day at 100 percent then there were a lot of other people who were willing to do it.”
After coming to this realization, Rogers left his official career in politics at the end of 2012.
“I stepped away because I just didn’t have it any longer and never really looked back—completely comfortable with the decision. Happy that I did it, happy that I had the time to represent people in elected office. That was an honor. It was very enjoyable. But I just couldn’t be one of those people that was hanging on for myself.”
Politics’ loss was hospitality’s gain, with Rogers joining AAHOA as president and CEO and then taking over the top spots at AHLA in 2018.
The Hospitality Show
Rogers’ newest passion is an event that the AHLA has been working on for several years. Earlier this year the group, along with Questex, the parent company of Hotel Management, announced The Hospitality Show, which is targeted at the operations and technology spaces. The inaugural edition of the event will take place June 27-29, 2023, at The Venetian Las Vegas.
“We started this thought process years ago on how can AHLA prominently play a role in bringing the industry together, not just on legislative activities, education, foundation efforts, but how can we also do it from an event standpoint? Because if you look across our board, our executive committee, I mean, they really are the leaders of the entire hotel industry, not just in the U.S., but frankly, for the most part the world. So how can we create an event that involves them?”
Other events have their niches well-covered, Rogers said, such as the Americas Lodging Investment Summit, the NYU Hospitality Industry Investment Conference and the International Hospitality Investment Forum doing “a fantastic job” covering the investment angle of hotels.
“They check those boxes; they’ve done really well,” he said. “Where we saw an opening was how are we bringing together technology and operations in a way to make hotels more profitable, to sustain them, to create efficiencies, and we see a huge space there. Seeing that opportunity, recognizing that we can help fill that space by bringing the industry leadership together to support this effort, that seemed like for us almost too good to be true.”
Rogers said this type of event is even more important for the hospitality industry now than it was before the pandemic.
“When we look back at the world [during] COVID, it will be a dark stain on our history because of the amount of people who sadly died from this and we would never discount that in any way, shape or form,” he said. “But it did teach us in some ways how to think differently post-COVID, and part of that is from an operational stance. We recognize that we’re in a in a long-term struggle in having enough people to work in an industry and so if you want to continue to supply the guests with the experience that they deserve, then you got to be able to do it with fewer people. We recognize that if you’re going to do with fewer people, the only real way is to become more efficient, more effective—and technology is one of the main tools to make that occur.”
Finding new ways to run hotels is absolutely critical to the long-term success for the industry, and The Hospitality Show is geared to make that happen because of how well-rounded each part of the event will be, he said.
“There’s a tradeshow component because you need to be able to see and feel these new products and services up front, right there in the building,” he said. “We’re also mixing with that the top thought leaders in our industry. These are meant to be C-level conversations so people can understand where the leadership of our industry is taking our industry because if you know the direction you’re going, you’re going to be able to make better decisions. Then you combine that with the networking. I think we’re bringing together the best facets of all of these industry shows and putting them into one entity called The Hospitality Show.”
The selection of the name was very deliberate.
“We wanted to go big and bold with the name because we wanted to communicate what this meant,” Rogers said. “It’s all-encompassing. If you’re in the hospitality industry, you need to be at this show. Because those people that run the hospitality industry, that direct it, that lead it, they’re going to be there and so you need to be there as well.”
Rogers said the AHLA is excited about the partnership with Questex and what the two groups can create for the industry.
“When Questex came to us and said, ‘Look, here’s what we’re thinking about’ and it happened to almost completely align with what we were already thinking about, it just made a lot of sense,” he said. “And Questex is widely recognized as one of the preeminent voices in our industry. We could not think of a better partner who understands the nuts and bolts of the industry, but also hosts and executes outstanding in-person events themselves. It was really the best partnership we could come up with.”
Rogers said has no doubts that The Hospitality Show will be a success.
“We’re absolutely committed to do this and make this the preeminent show,” he said. “We are committed to making sure that if you attend The Hospitality Show, you will leave much better off than when you first walked through the door. And we want to make sure that you leave in a way that will get you to come back the next year with a few friends with you.”