New York, 2012-11-13 — / — Ronald Vlasic, CHA, regional vice president of hotels, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, outlined his agenda for the coming year at the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) Inaugural Gala held at the Plaza Hotel on Sunday, November 11.

He told an audience of top lodging leaders, “Our industry moves fast and customer demands are constantly evolving, so it’s crucial that we, as an association, stay on top of developing trends.  As chair, I will ensure the programs and initiatives provided by the association are what you, our members, want and need. You have spoken, and we have listened and are working on a strategy to take action and move forward.”

“It is a top priority to become a stronger, more active voice on the Hill for the industry and strengthen our role of speaking on behalf of all of you regarding political, consumer, and industry issues. These changes will allow AH&LA to be out front on tough issues, defending the industry with a unified voice when it matters most,” said Vlasic.

“And while governmental affairs and advocacy is vital, programs such as Women in Lodging and the Under 30 Gateway also are essential to our mission as these programs are designed to identify and nurture our industry’s future leaders,” said Vlasic.

He called on industry CEOs and executives to help the state lodging partner associations form Women in Lodging and Under 30 chapters in each state, help young people become more involved, and guide them and provide them with the benefit of their experience.

He also encouraged everyone to become more engaged on behalf of the industry.  “This is you association. It’s clear that the outreach of AH&LA must continue to encompass all brands, hotel companies, ownership groups, large and small operators, as well as partner state associations and industry partners who are so valuable in providing services that support our industry.”

He concluded his remarks by saying “The American Hotel & Lodging Association is looking toward its future as it enters a new phase of transition.  We are at a pivotal moment both in terms of impact and influence. We have an amazing industry, and now is a time of incredible opportunities to become even more successful than ever.”

In his role with Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Vlasic provides operational support to their lifestyle hotels in the Midwest, Mountain states, and Pacific Northwest. Vlasic acts as the liaison between the various hotel ownership groups and the Kimpton home office, implementing various brand initiatives and campaigns designed to further enhance the guest experience.

Vlasic assisted in the development of environmental standards and guidelines for Chicago hotels, which lead Chicago to become home to the most certified “green” hotels in the U.S. in 2008. Additionally, Vlasic is a member of the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation Scholarship Committee; a member of the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association Executive Committee and treasurer of its Educational Foundation. He is former chairman of the board of the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association and a former board member of the Chicago Visitors & Convention Bureau. Vlasic is certified as a Hotel Administrator through the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute.

The inaugural gala was presented by American Express, along with Heartland Payment Systems, Hotel Neighborhood, and Sealy, Inc.

In addition to Vlasic, 2013 AH&LA officers include Vice Chair John Fitzpatrick, president/CEO of the Fitzpatrick Hotel Group; Secretary/Treasurer Jim Abrahamson, CEO, Interstate Hotels and Resorts; and Immediate Past Chair Nancy Johnson, executive vice president, Carlson Rezidor.  These hoteliers are led by AH&LA President/CEO Joseph A. McInerney, CHA.

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Serving the hospitality industry for more than a century, 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.