HM on Location: AAHOA hypes young professionals

AAHOA held its inaugural HYPE Ownership Conference in New Orleans last week, with nearly 200 members attending to learn more about hotel ownership as a career.

The platform is meant to empower and nurture the next generation of young professionals in the hospitality industry with educational offerings (panels, roundtables, a keynote and discussions) as well as networking opportunities. 

“The HYPE Conference allowed us to hear firsthand from our young members about their ideas and concerns regarding the future of our industry,” Tanmay Patel, young professional director western division, said in a statement after the event. “It was enlightening to hear from so many young people about their hopes and dreams for taking the work started by their parents, in many cases, and how they hope to better position the industry for future success.”

“The feedback we received from attendees and the interaction we saw illustrates there is a great need for our industry to nurture our connection to future leaders,” Dylan Patel, young professional director eastern division, added. "Their commitment to elevate the industry to new heights is evident.”

“The energy and enthusiasm at our inaugural HYPE Conference exceeded expectations, and AAHOA Young Professionals are clearly eager to learn, grow, and excel in their careers,” said AAHOA President and CEO Laura Lee Blake. “AAHOA’s HYPE Conference is a first-of-its-kind initiative for our industry, and we are proud to lead the way in nurturing and shining a spotlight on the incredible talent of our next generation of leaders.” 

HYPE attendees heard from keynote speaker Michael Hyatt, a serial entrepreneur, investor and executive chairman of DataStealth. Hyatt spoke about the evolution of technology, and how it has affected the workforce by making people more efficient. He discussed how leaders of tomorrow in any industry should embrace the changes, and explore how they can utilize the evolution of technology in their industry.

Panels, meanwhile, touched on trends and challenges as well as the value of advocacy and the strengths young leaders can bring to the proverbial table. Others touched on growing reliance on technology (and familiarity of millennials, Gen Y and Zoomers have with digital devices) and the blurring line between residential developments and hospitality.

Several panels touched on multigenerational hotel ownership, and current owners were encouraged to include their daughters in the family business. “We should treat sons and daughters equally if they're interested [in hospitality],” AAHOA Chairman Bharat Patel said during a chat with Neal Patel, immediate past chairman and Miraj Patel, vice chairman. “I have a sneaking suspicion my son will not be in the business but my daughter will.” 

"AAHOA is thrilled to bring to the industry a game-changing initiative that will truly support and evolve the future of hospitality,” Bharat Patel said in a statement after the event. “Our intent was to create a platform to give a stronger voice to young professionals, who play a crucial role in shaping and driving innovation within the hospitality industry. This week showed us that our future is in good hands with the next generation of hoteliers!”

Hotel Management will have an e-book detailing what happened at the HYPE Ownership Conference and how AAHOA is supporting its young professionals in March.