Despite the heavy blow that the hotel industry has received due to the pandemic, most of the clients remain unaware of just how little support these big name hospitality companies give the struggling entrepreneurs who put their corporate names on the hotels they work so hard to run.
ABC News reported last July that Vimal Patel is “spearheading a legal fight” where he and dozens of other hotel owners are accusing IHG, Holiday Inn Intercontinental Hotels Group “of gouging them with fees, penalties and overpriced products.” Vimal Patel owns and operates several name brand hotels across Louisiana and provides services to other hoteliers. Frequently quoted by media around the world on all aspects of hospitality, Patel has never been afraid to speak up.
Patel has said in an interview, “Leadership is vital in business because leadership is creating and providing solutions and sometimes you yourself have to be the change to make the change.” As someone who champions change, Patel points out that the AHLA or the American Hotel and Lodging Association, the organization that takes fees from the franchises, is not representing the bill calling for fair franchising.
For the renowned hotelier, this might seem odd because AHLA calls itself ”the Largest Hotel Association In the U.S. Representing all Segments of the Industry Nationwide.” It would seem that to the AHLA , the franchisees are the lowest rung of the industry ladder.
An AAHOA report about May 12th when the bill was before the New Jersey Assembly Judiciary Committee makes the situation disturbingly clear. One by one, franchisees “were called to the microphone to give their testimony concerning how their franchise relationships are becoming increasingly more unfair and unbalanced in the hospitality industry, and the heavy impact that this is having on their hotels and the guests they are serving.”
The AAHOA said that “listening to their personal stories and the immense challenges they are facing with the mandates and business practices imposed by their hotel franchisors clearly demonstrated how consequential the passage of this bill will be to their livelihood.” Renowned Hotelier Vimal Patel was one of the first to go public about the issues of hoteliers which are the franchisees of some of the world’s biggest hospitality brands.
Patel also took the lead with an appearance on FOX TV where he addressed the issue of the severe challenge hoteliers face with supply chain issues. Earlier this month, the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), an organization whose members comprise 60% of America’s hotel owners, presented their prestigious Award of Excellence to Vimal Patel. “This award recognizes a hotelier who has demonstrated strong leadership, has high standards of excellence, and is making a significant contribution to the lodging Industry.” says the distinguished industry association.
The annual AAHOA Awards Program recognizes the best of the best, and AAHOA announces that they are honored to highlight this year’s award winners’ service and commitment to excellence.
In an interview, Patel expressed what he felt when he received the prestigious award: “It is a tremendous honor to be recognized at a national level especially in a post covid tumultuous hotel industry. It is especially meaningful because this recognition is also part of the effort to engage and change the system. It was a singular effort to bring attention to the plight of the hoteliers which has been recognized on a national level.”
Reflecting on the ongoing battle, Patel said : “The only way forward now is legislation.”