AAHOA, the nation’s largest hotel owners association, has promoted Heather Carnes to EVP, communications/chief strategy officer, and hired Phelps Hope as its new EVP, operations/chief development officer.
Following the announcement of Laura Lee Blake being named as AAHOA president/CEO in May, these advancements further underscore the association’s aggressive and ambitious plans for the future, which include identifying and securing key leaders to carry out its strategic plan, the association reports.
Carnes has been a member of the AAHOA team for three years and has dedicated nearly her entire career to the association space. During her tenure with AAHOA, she has garnered the respect of her team, AAHOA staff, volunteer leaders and AAHOA partners, and continues to be a positive influence on the organization as a whole, according to the association.
In her new role, she will focus on organizational strategy, marketing and communications, organizational culture and HR, education/program development and strategic partnerships.
“It’s an incredibly important time for AAHOA and our industry,” Carnes said, who previously served as AAHOA’s VP, marketing and communications. “I’m thrilled to be moving into this new role where I can have an even greater impact on the organization, our overall strategic initiatives, and working alongside Laura Lee, Phelps and the rest of the AAHOA team to make big things happen on behalf of our nearly 20,000 hotelier members.”
In addition to the promotion of Carnes, the hiring of Hope will continue to establish AAHOA as the industry leader in hosting top-quality and widely attended conventions, regional meetings, trade shows, town halls and related meeting events.
Hope brings more than 40 years of hotel, meetings, events and tradeshow management experience to AAHOA.
Since 2005, he served as SVP, meetings & expositions, for Kellen Company—one of the largest providers of management and services to associations and trade organizations—where he was responsible for the management of the meetings, events and tradeshow division, overseeing more than 300 events annually and more than $30 million in client account revenues.
He has held key positions both in Australia and the United States with Marriott, Sheraton, Hilton and Loews Hotels, developing an in-depth understanding of hotel sales and operations.
“AAHOA is a strong organization that is known for bringing the industry together,” Hope said. “To officially join the AAHOA team provides a great opportunity for me to bring my breadth of experience in hospitality, event production, and association management full circle.”
He is a certified meetings professional (CMP) and is familiar with every nuance of the meetings, tradeshow and events production process, in addition to innovative ideas to grow the business, generate revenue and service AAHOA’s Industry Partners and Vendor Members at the highest level.
In his new role at AAHOA, he primarily focuses on operations and development, including leading and structuring the teams concerning conventions, events, business development, membership growth and strategy, as well as technology and associated financing.
“As AAHOA continues to grow and advance, we need a top team of executive leaders to guide and promote the team members, as well as to initiate and establish the methods and framework to ensure success,” said Blake. “I have no doubt that Phelps and Heather will be successful in helping AAHOA reach new heights as they embrace their new roles and responsibilities. This is just the beginning as we continue making plans for increased successes and achievements for our future.”
She will continue to directly oversee AAHOA’s legal, governance, government affairs and franchise relations departments with the support of Hope and Carnes.
“It bears repeating that this is a new day and a new start for AAHOA,” Blake said. “With Carnes and Hope taking their places as EVPs for AAHOA, their leadership skills will help AAHOA build a strong foundation, and I am delighted they will be assisting us in continuing to transform the vision of AAHOA into reality.”