Creation of stronger, unified hospitality association moves forward with signing of memorandum of understanding.

Creation of stronger, unified hospitality association moves forward with signing of memorandum of understanding.

(April 30, 2015) The Washington Lodging Association and the Washington Restaurant Association have made significant progress in their joint effort to create a new, unified hospitality association. The two organizations signed a memorandum of understanding on April 7 that will serve as a blueprint for combining forces. An extensive due diligence process is now underway.

The new hospitality association will leverage the strength of each organization to deliver even greater value to members. It will also have increased capacity to act quickly, with greater resources and greater impact, to meet political and regulatory challenges at both the state and local level.

The combined hospitality association, which has yet to be named, will be based in Olympia, and Anthony Anton, WRA’s current president & CEO, will lead the new entity. The Board of Directors will be governed for the first two years by an Executive Committee made up of dual officers from WLA and WRA. In 2016, a new Board will be seated that will include nine board members elected based on the number of employees at their restaurant or hotel, six at-large board members and three allied members. The Seattle and Spokane lodging and restaurant chapters will also have seats on the Board. Click here to see the proposed governance structure.

Staffing will correspond to the needs of members and the mission of enhancing members’ success. By offering significant efficiencies of scale, the new administrative support structure will create a stronger financial base and optimize members’ investment. The new organization’s combined leadership capabilities and optimized staffing will also offer more opportunities for innovation and expanded capacity to support and advocate for members.

Both organizations have seen that threats to the business of hospitality at the state level and in a growing number of Washington cities and counties make it imperative for the industry to have greater influence in the political arena. The unified hospitality association will be even better positioned than two separate organizations to meet these challenges. It will have a stronger voice in government affairs and greater resources to respond quickly and effectively to attempts to change how members do business.

WLA and WRA have also partnered in establishing H.I.H.I.T., the Hospitality Industry Health Insurance Trust that gives members access to medical and dental insurance plans not available in the general marketplace. Under the new association, H.I.H.I.T. will continue to offer flexible, affordable insurance designed for the needs of hoteliers and restaurateurs.

WLA will provide regular updates about the process and members are encouraged to email comments to Member input will also be sought through upcoming surveys to help the unified organization better understand member needs.