Governance of new hospitality association: expanding capacity and opportunities for innovation

Governance of new hospitality association: expanding capacity and opportunities for innovation

Like any wise couple contemplating a wedding date, the Washington Restaurant Association and the Washington Lodging Association are not rushing into marriage. Indeed, the union between these two key players in the hospitality industry has been carefully thought out in great detail since discussions on working more closely together began in 2012. A good example of the careful planning that went into this combining of forces can be seen in the new, united organization’s proposed governance structure.

The new organization’s combined leadership capabilities and viewpoints will create more opportunities for innovation, as well as expand its ability to effectively represent the hospitality industry.

“We need to be stronger together,” said WRA president and CEO Anthony Anton. “We can spend more money on member value and less on administration. I am most excited about our ability to strengthen our industry through our industry connections to each other, our community and relationships and your association.”

The details
“A great deal of time was spent making sure that we all have good representation on the Board, geographically and across our industries,” said Matt Van Der Peet, WLA Board chair. “Whoever will be part of the Board will be individuals who are fully engaged. It will be a Board that well represents all entities within the new association.”

When combined operations begin on October 1, the governing Board will be made up of WLA and WRA’s current Board members and officers. In July 2016, a new 30-member board will take office. For the first two years, there will be dual chairs, vice chairs, treasurers and immediate past chairs, one from the WLA, one from the WRA. In 2017, the full Board will have 26 seats with the chair, vice chair, secretary/treasurer and immediate past chair as officers. The Executive Committee will be made up of these voting officers, the president/CEO plus the chairs of the Education Foundation and the Member Services Corporation.

Nine Board members will be elected based on the number of employees in their restaurant or hotel; three allied members; six at-large members, including the chairs of the RETRO Committee and the Education Foundation; and four additional Board members – one each from the Seattle Restaurant Alliance and the WRA’s Spokane Chapter and one each from the Seattle and Spokane lodging associations. With the exception of officers, Board members will be limited to two terms of three years. Officers will have one-year terms and be eligible for reelection to a second one-year team.

The Board Development Committee, which will have equal representation from the two associations, will nominate candidates for the new Board, who will be elected by a twothirds majority of the Board.

“We’re really looking at this as an opportunity to have all the best minds in the same room,” said Phil Costello, WRA Board chair. “The Board is going to be made up of the right people, no matter where they’re from.”

Best and brightest
“Having a unified board will provide much stronger representation for the hospitality industry,” said Stan Bowman, president and CEO of the Washington Lodging Association. “The greatest strength is the balance between sectors of the hospitality industry. We will seek the most talented members to represent us on the board.”

Prospective Board members will be chosen from those who distinguish themselves on committees.

“The leadership of our organizations asked ‘How do we get the best and brightest on our Board to provide the vision needed to lead hospitality to great heights?'” said Anton. “This means getting away from outdated structures that dictate percentage of makeup, and focusing on developing the great leaders of our community.”

According to Bowman, one of the great strengths of the new organization will be the opportunities to get involved and connect.

“WRA has great experience with committees, and the new association will similarly tap into the talents and skills of members who want to serve the industry,” Bowman said.

“We recognize that people still need to know the association speaks for them,” said Anton. “To do this, we’ve guaranteed chapter leadership slots on the Board as well as a minimum of two executive committee members from each industry on the seven person executive committee and alternating chairs. I think this is a great blend of the needs of a great Board.”