A letter from WLA and WRA’s presidents and CEOs: A new association for a new era.

A letter from WLA and WRA’s presidents and CEOs: A new association for a new era.

(July 1, 2015)  WLA and WRA presidents and CEOs Stan Bowman and Anthony Anton published the following letter in the July 2015 edition of Washington Restaurant and Lodging Magazine, updating members on the plan to launch a new, combined hospitality association in 2016.

The Washington Restaurant Association and the Washington Lodging Association have served the hospitality industry since the 1920s. Over time the differences between the needs of our members and how we serve them have faded. There is now much more that unites than divides us. In fact, increasing challenges to our businesses and our industries made it imperative that we work together to rethink our future.

Critical policy issues have been shifting away from the state capitol to city halls and the ballot box as unions mobilize with other political forces to introduce extreme labor laws at the local level. New issues are arising at an ever faster pace and gaining the attention of policy makers in months not years. Our quickly evolving industry and workforce require rapid research and new information systems, and today’s communication needs demand greater investment in ever-changing technology.

Just like your business, associations must adapt or become irrelevant. We can’t simply stick to the old way of doing things: We must meet all of these challenges, and we need to find ways to get more resources on the ground in local communities and to make major investments in new technology.

That’s why the Boards of Directors and professional leadership at WRA and WLA have made the decision to join forces in a new unified hospitality association. After a careful due diligence process with considerable input from the industry, past presidents and our members, we are proud to be uniting in a single, stronger organization.

We are not alone in seeking to have a greater voice for the hospitality industry and to be even more efficient and effective in serving our members. More than 50 percent of the states have combined restaurant and lodging associations, and they have provided us with valuable roadmaps on how to best strengthen our industry and enhance the success of our combined membership.

If we were in your shoes, there is a lot we’d want to know about the new association, not the least of which is how this merger will benefit your business. Here is what our Boards of Directors aspire to achieve:

An association with an even stronger, more united political front to protect and enhance the hospitality business climate.

An association with more efficient operations that delivers even greater value to members.

An association with even greater buying power to provide stronger member education and to offer an even greater array of benefits and money-saving programs.

An organization with expanded leadership capabilities and a wider range of viewpoints that will create more opportunities for innovation and expand our ability to be the primary source of information for the hospitality industry.

Your new hospitality association will deliver on this promise, whether it is with a larger team of area coordinators, a stronger government affairs team and a more secure RETRO program.

Earlier this year, both Boards approved a memorandum of understanding to make this a reality, and we are working to combine operations, on October 1, under Anthony Anton’s leadership. The new hospitality association, with its new name and brand, will launch in 2016. If you have a comment or question, or would like to get involved, please e-mail us. We really would love to hear from you.


Stan Bowman                                                                                    Anthony Anton
President & CEO                                                                               President & CEO
Washington Lodging Association                                                 Washington Restaurant Association
bowman@walodging.org                                                                anthonya@warestaurant.org