HB Exclusive: AHLA integrates HTNG, strengthening technology expertise

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and Hospitality Technology Next Generation (HTNG) have signed an agreement for HTNG to formally become part of AHLA to better serve and support the evolving needs of the global hospitality industry as it looks toward recovery.

“We have had a longstanding working relationship with HTNG,” Chip Rogers, president/CEO, AHLA, told Hotel Business. “In fact, a couple years ago, they did a guide for us on safety devices and the leading technologies that were being used in our industry. We also knew that we had an area of weakness with our technology expertise—not just on how it impacts the industry, but many of the public policy questions that we have to deal with on a daily basis. Things from metasearch to online travel organizations [OTAs] to illegal short-term rentals. At the heart of those was a technology question, and so since HTNG are clearly the leaders in our space when it comes to technology—not just here in the U.S., but globally—we thought it was a perfect partnership as we looked to not have to recreate the wheel in an effort to expand our knowledge and influence with respect to technology in hospitality.”

This synergistic alignment, which has been unanimously approved by the boards of both AHLA and HTNG, provides significant benefits to both organizations and their members. AHLA will gain additional expertise in technology, which continues to be a critical aspect of both hotel operations and advocacy. HTNG will continue its expansion and impact globally through greater resources and access to C-suite-level decision-makers.

Rogers noted that it will be a mutually beneficial partnership for both organizations. “Whenever we had a question about technology, we would go to them to get the answer,” he said. “We knew that they have the technology experts that work day in and day out inside our industry. That was something that we needed and, as the pandemic hit, they quickly realized the assets that the AHLA can bring to this relationship particularly around advocacy since so many of the advocacy questions have at the heart of them some sort of technology issue. They thought it was a perfect marriage, we thought it was a perfect marriage.”

Michael Blake, CEO of HTNG, said, “While HTNG has been at the forefront of technology’s growth in the hospitality industry throughout the years, combining forces with AHLA will truly serve as a positive stride in the natural evolution of our organization. This shift will allow us to leverage AHLA’s membership and advocacy platforms, and I couldn’t think of better individuals to advance our mission with.”

The HTNG board approved the move on Monday, and the leadership teams have already been connecting. “It has been great so far,” said Rogers. “From the very beginning, there was a willingness and understanding that coming together would make us much stronger.”

Upon the closing of the agreement, which is expected to be completed before the end of April, AHLA will retain the HTNG brand with the current staff transitioning to AHLA. HTNG will also have representation on the AHLA board of directors and executive team. The combined staff will merge tools and resources to shape and strengthen the industry over the next year, building on their strong history of collaboration, which includes AHLA’s 5-Star Promise and Safe Stay initiatives.

Having the HTNG executives on board will help AHLA on Capitol Hill and its members on the technology front. As Rogers noted, “They just bring a wealth of information that we previously didn’t have that we can use in everyday life of the American Hotel and Lodging Association, from working with policymakers to make sure they have the understanding of what technology is doing to our industry and for industry, to working with all of our 27,000 members who recognized the technology plays a key role in their business every day.”

Floor Bleeker, president of HTNG and group chief technology officer of Accor, said, “Being a part of AHLA will now elevate technology’s seat at the leadership table and allow us to have a larger voice and much greater reach to deliver additional resources and overall value for HTNG’s members. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to join such a wonderful organization and a board of esteemed executives.”

The HTNG team will become the technology committee at AHLA, noted Rogers, who added, “They will continue to have a daily impact on what we are doing. Our members have expressed nothing but satisfaction and, in many cases, excitement about this merger. We think the value that HTNG can bring, basic technology understanding and products and services the industry has today and where we’re headed, that’s a wealth of information that virtually anyone in the industry can use to make the proper decisions and investments moving forward.”