Ballotti to receive Arne Sorenson Award

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), the American Hotel & Lodging Foundation and The BHN Group have revealed that Geoff Ballotti, president/CEO, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, will be awarded the Arne Sorenson Social Impact Leadership Award. Ballotti will be recognized during the AHLA Foundation’s fundraising gala, Night of a Thousand Stars, on Jan. 22, as well as during the 22nd annual Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) on Jan. 24.

“Geoff—much like Arne—is a true embodiment of all the good that hospitality represents,” said Chip Rogers, president/CEO, AHLA. “His empathy, his accessibility and his commitment to doing the right thing is what makes him one of our industry’s greatest leaders. The story of his success, from dishwasher to CEO of the world’s largest hotel franchisor, is inspirational—as is his dedication to ensuring the success of future hotel leaders. I am lucky to call Geoff a colleague and friend, and it fills me with pride to honor him with this award.”

Jeff Higley, president, The BHN Group, said, “Geoff is the quintessential example of a leader who completely understands the definition of hospitality and what it means for every facet of the industry. Dedicating his career to hospitality has led to Geoff’s commitment to being an active agent of change as the industry continues to evolve and further embrace its social responsibility and the impact it has on so many. It’s a pleasure to acknowledge Geoff’s commitment to this mindset and making the world a better place.”

Ballotti has dedicated nearly his entire career to hospitality, beginning as a dishwasher and rising through the ranks to waiter and, ultimately, his current role. Throughout his career, he also held various leadership positions with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide in the U.S. and Europe, including serving as president of Starwood North America.

Ballotti has made great strides in the advancement of diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), fostering an owner-first mindset and charitable giving:

  • Launching Women Own the Room, the first-ever program by a major hotel company specifically targeting women’s advancement in hotel ownership;
  • Fostering diversity through the development of BOLD by Wyndham to engage and advance more Black entrepreneurs on their path to hotel ownership;
  • Creating positive impact in the community through the Wyndham Championship, and Wyndham Championship Fore! Good—the tournament’s signature philanthropic platform—which helps give back to those in the Piedmont Triad, especially in the areas of youth and education, community development and environmental sustainability; and
  • Remaining a prominent industry voice by advocating for hoteliers and helping ensure the survival of their business and the protection of their family legacies during the pandemic and beyond.

The Arne Sorenson Social Impact Leadership Award was introduced earlier this year in honor of Arne Sorenson, former president/CEO of Marriott International, who passed away in February 2021. The award is presented annually to a senior-level executive in the lodging industry who strives to drive change through strong leadership and community engagement. Nominations are reviewed by AHLA’s Executive Committee and representatives from ALIS. David Kong, the former president/CEO of Best Western Hotels & Resorts, was the inaugural recipient of the award in January.