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AH&LA Resort Committee Discusses Impact of Negative Public Comments

The American Hotel & Lodging Association's prestigious Resort Committee brought together almost 60 top resort hoteliers from across the country for the committee's 72nd annual meeting, held October 3-7 at the century-old Otesaga Resort in Cooperstown, New York.

AHLA The hoteliers discussed a number of important ideas and topics for resort industry professionals, including the negative public comments made by some national leaders earlier this year about resorts and their business with corporations and the continuing impact on their properties.

Last spring, following the release of the U.S. Treasury's emergency TARP funds, certain lawmakers made public statements decrying the use of these funds by companies to hold legitimate business meetings or events at upscale venues such as resort hotels. As a result of these statements, many other corporations and businesses were wary of holding their events at these locations for fear of negative publicity.

This unnecessary decline in business revenue coupled with the overall economic slowdown has hurt resorts, who count on this kind of corporate business to sustain their facilities and employees. Some destinations have reported losing millions of dollars in canceled bookings and events. Many resort owners reported a 30-35% decline in business in the months following these comments.

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Many of these resort properties are the hubs of their host communities. These properties employ sizeable staffs, many of whom are long-time employees. These historic or themed resorts create a substantial economic influence in their areas, and are sometimes the largest employer in a small town. They not only generate jobs in the facility itself, but also in the many ancillary businesses servicing a large resort, such as food suppliers, laundry services, landscaping, and other services needed to maintain the superlative resort experience for their guests.

'AH&LA worked to combat this wrongful perception, joining with other trade associations to develop a response to these comments,' said Pennie Beach, committee chairman and co-owner of the Basin Harbor Club in Vergennes, Vermont. 'AH&LA helped draft voluntary guidelines for companies to plan responsibly their corporate meetings and contacted members of Congress to inform them that these properties provide jobs, revenue, and economic stability to their host communities. But we must continue to educate our legislators on the many benefits resorts and business travel delivers to our economy.'

There are 314 U.S. resorts that maintain a total of 156,600 rooms, according to the latest 2008 statistics from Smith Travel Research (STR). These properties range from historic 19th century resorts and spas to modern beachside properties featuring golf, sailing, and other activities. A resort is defined by STR as a hotel that is located in an area where the primary source of business is from leisure destination travel.

Serving the hospitality industry for a century, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) is the sole national association representing all sectors and stakeholders in the lodging industry, including individual hotel property members, hotel companies, student and faculty members, and industry suppliers. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AH&LA provides members with national advocacy on Capitol Hill, public relations and image management, education, research and information, and other value-added services to provide bottom-line savings and ensure a positive business climate for the lodging industry. Partner state associations provide local representation and additional cost-saving benefits to members. For more about AH&LA and our 100th anniversary, visit www.ahla.com.



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