Last week's annual meeting of the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers was a watershed event in the history of the lodging industry, much like the formation of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association was in the late 1980s.
A record crowd of about 400 African-American owners and wannabes, as well as chain executives and vendors, crowded into the black-owned Atlanta Marriott Century Center to celebrate the group's successes and, more importantly, to share ideas on how to grow even faster. The conference, chaired by whirlwind NABHOOD President & CEO Andy Ingraham, was a mix of established black hotel ownersÃ¢€”Mike Roberts, Hank Thomas, James Guillory and othersÃ¢€”and scores of entrepreneurs and other hopefuls who see the lodging industry as fertile ground to grab a piece of the American dream.
ThatÃ¢€â„¢s the beauty of the hotel business. ItÃ¢€â„¢s often been said that you can start at the bottom of this industry and, through hard work and a lot of drive, become a GM or even a chain president. But thatÃ¢€â„¢s only half the story. It may seem like a stretch, but itÃ¢€â„¢s also possible to go from industry wage earner to owner of your own hotel, or at least a piece of one. Sure, it takes even harder work and more smartsÃ¢€”and probably some partners who believe in youÃ¢€”but it can be done. Ask the thousands of Asian Americans who have created their own American dreams.
The hotel industry is a big tent that includes all kinds of peopleÃ¢€”those born in the U.S., immigrants from all over the globe and increasingly, minorities of all kinds. Thanks to AAHHOA, NABHOOD and others, the tent is getting even bigger.