HB on the Scene: AAHOA draws crowd

BALTIMORE—More than 6,000 attendees are attending this year’s AAHOA 2022 Conference & Trade Show held here at the Baltimore Convention Center.

During a presentation at its booth, Red Roof launched an industry-wide fundraising campaign to fight human trafficking and raise awareness of the crisis with ECPAT-USA, a leading anti-child trafficking and exploitation organization in the U.S., during a special presentation.

The new campaign is seeded by a Red Roof donation of $10,000. Red Roof will mobilize its network of franchise partners and vendors and the entire hospitality industry to encourage further support of ECPAT-USA through donations, starting at this year’s conference. The fundraising campaign will continue through the summer months.

Red Roof and ECPAT-USA have been ongoing partners in the fight against child trafficking, combatting this heinous crime through awareness, advocacy, policy and legislation. Red Roof is an active member of ECPAT-USA’s Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct (The Code), a voluntary set of business principles travel and tour companies can implement to prevent sexual exploitation and trafficking of children.

“Red Roof stands shoulder-to-shoulder with ECPAT-USA,” said George Limbert (pictured above, right), president, Red Roof. “We encourage all of our partners and peers in travel and hospitality to join us and stand by ECPAT-USA in the fight against human trafficking.”

Red Roof franchisees and others who wish to show their support for ECPAT-USA as part of the fundraising campaign can donate directly to the organization here.

“We are incredibly grateful for Red Roof for their ongoing partnership in our work to end child sex trafficking in the U.S.,” said Yvonne Chen (pictured above, right), director of private sector engagement, ECPAT-USA. “The support of Red Roof and others in the hotel industry is crucial to ensuring all children are able to grow up free from exploitation.”

General session
Real success is found in the people we empower and inspire, said AAHOACON22 keynote speaker Ray Lewis. A former Baltimore Ravens linebacker, two-time Super Bowl champion, Defensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl MVP during his 17-year career, Lewis told the audience at the opening general session that the impact he or anyone else can have on a person’s life in just a second is bigger than anything he ever did on the football field.

Lewis said in the locker room, it was never just about one person, but what special qualities everyone brought to the team. It’s the same for our communities, and so we need to focus on how we can win together, achieve together and lift each other up.

Before Lewis’ keynote, AAHOA attendees learned from a range of speakers on topics all of particular interest to hotel and hospitality professionals. Isabella Casillas Guzman, the current administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration under President Joe Biden, shared what the White House has done and continues to do to support small businesses as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. She said the SBA is committed to providing access to capital, resources to promote revenue growth and networking opportunities for entrepreneurs. With applications for new businesses up 30%, Guzman sees hope amid the resiliency of small business owners.

George Taylor, an entrepreneur and founder of TRU Colors Brewing, a for-profit brewery with a social mission of stopping violence through economic opportunity. When violence became a reality in Taylor’s neighborhood, he was determined to see if the skills that helped him solve problems as an entrepreneur could unite rival gangs in his community. He started Disrupt-U, an eight-week onboarding program that teaches core life and job skills. Taylor said those skills help individuals build belief in themselves, which leads to growth, prosperity and peace.

Tyler Morse, chairman/CEO, MCR Hotels, the fourth-largest owner-operator in the U.S. with 150 hotels in 37 states, told general session attendees to run a profits-based business. While revenue is nice, he said, profits are better, and not all revenue is created equal. He emboldened attendees to increase rates—and to increase them with confidence.

(Look for more AAHOA coverage in the forthcoming AAHOA Report newsletter).