Did you know that mega hotel chains like Marriott are making an aggressive move into the boutique hotel market and gobbling up independent hotels like yours left and right? As a hotel manager, your primary concern may be the day-to-day operations of your hotel, but the major movements in the industry will have a big impact on your bottom line sooner or later.
Which is why it’s so important to be part of an industry association, and specifically a travel association. Why try to go it alone of figuring out how to position your hotel in the market when you could instead tap into the incredible knowledge of hundreds or even thousands of other hotel professionals?
No matter how high an opinion you have of your own management skills, you can always get better. Professional organizations are great ways to do that. They offer courses and seminars to keep you up to date on the latest industry innovations and trends.
Professional organizations are also awesome for another very good reason: networking. Nothing beats having strong connections in your industry when it comes to advancing your hotel, or your own career.
Travel Associations for Hotel Managers
But why travel associations specifically?
Well, you’re in the travel business. You could join an association specifically for hospitality, but you’d be wise to remember that hotels are just one item on a traveler’s checklist. You need to know what’s going on in the travel industry overall so you can spot trends that are likely to affect your hotel.
That’s why we’ve put together a list of four fantastic travel associations that focus on a range of potential growth areas for your hotel, helping to push your hospitality career in the right direction.
1. U.S. Travel Association
The U.S. Travel Association is arguably the granddaddy of them all, boasting more than 1,200 member organizations nationwide, and many of them are hotels like yours.
Besides giving you the opportunity to network and learn, the U.S. Travel Association gives you some muscle in industry and on Capitol Hill to promote issues that are important to you and others in the travel industry.
It’s a bit pricey to join, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a travel association with anywhere close to the networking list and promotion opportunities they have.
What are the benefits?
- A large networking list.
- Reduced registration fees for educational programs or discounted access to the latest travel research.
- Representation through the organization to communicate concerns in the industry to elected and appointed federal officials.
- Research and data on your industry to help you figure out where you should be investing your money in your hotel, and where you could be wasting it.
How much does it cost? $350 new member initiation fee, in addition to the dues as established within member categories. A regular membership for a small company is $920.
Where do I join? Click here for membership information, and see the “Contact Us” subhead on the right side of the page.
2. World Food Travel Association
I know one thing I look forward to most when I travel: the food. Nothing beats sitting down to an incredible meal in a new place and experiencing some local culture with your palate. Why not join a travel association that focuses on food? It can give you new ideas to increase interest in your hotel through the magic of comestibles.
The World Food Travel Association is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that describes itself as the “leading authority on food travel.” The association deals with a lot of things that are critical to the profitability of your hotel, and makes a good candidate for membership consideration.
“Many people think that food tourism is about gourmet restaurants or fancy wineries,” WFTA says on its website. “Those are just small subsets of the bigger industry. Our audience is vast and spans just over 20 different sectors of the food, drink, travel and hospitality industries.”
What are the benefits?
- Lots of networking and discussions in members-only community areas.
- Access to a knowledge library, which has hospitality data you can use to research new ideas for your hotel.
- Access to marketing materials.
- Preferential exhibitor booth placement at certain events, helping you to raise the profile of your hotel.
How much does it cost? $145 annually for the “Inner Circle” tier of membership, $245 for the “Ambassador” tier. There is a limited “free” tier as well.
Where do I join? A full breakdown of the various membership tiers and what they offer is available here.
3. The International Ecotourism Society
Ecotourism is in, and now’s the time to profit from it. The International Ecotourism Society, or TIES, is a non-profit association that is “committed to promoting responsible tourism practices that benefit conservation and communities.” They have more than 750 member organizations and 15,000 individual members in 190 countries.
If you’re unsure of what it takes to get ecotourists or what you can do to your hotel to attract this new breed of travel, this association is a good way to get connected and learn about what could be a significant new revenue stream for you if you play it right.
What are the benefits?
- Provides partnership-building, promotion, and professional development.
- Allows you to market to travelers about your sustainability efforts.
- Connects you with other businesses that can provide you with the tools you need to be more ecotourism-friendly.
- Places you in a global community to be more involved in supporting conservation and sustainable travel.
How much does it cost? A one-year professional membership is $80, and it’s $185 for the basic organization membership, with packages ranging up to “premium plus” at $1,250 per year.
Where do I join? Click here to choose between four different types of memberships: professional, organization, student, and traveler.
4. International Hotel & Restaurant Association
Obviously, this one is more narrowly focused on the hotel industry, but it still falls under the broader umbrella of travel associations. The International Hotel & Restaurant Association calls itself the “voice of the hospitality industry worldwide.”
IH&RA unites hotels, restaurants, developers, investors and educational institutions into one place to discuss and research the latest trends and technology in the hospitality industry, and that’s definitely a good conversation for a hotel manager to be a part of.
What are the benefits?
- The IH&RA says they’ll be an “industry watchdog,” protecting your business interest on a global scale, and you’ll get representation to “unite and reinforce the industry worldwide.”
- The association promises you’ll be able to build your business network at high-profile events.
- They deliver “timely” newsletters to keep you informed.
How much does it cost? Full membership is pricey, coming in at around $5,400 per year, but an affiliate membership costs about $750.
Where do I join? Click here for the full details on membership.
But there’s many more…
Certainly, there are more than four travel associations, and undoubtedly many of our readers have their own memberships they’ve really enjoyed and would love to share. If so, please do that below and let us all in on what makes your travel association so great.
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