New Forms of Trade Associations to Defend Iowa’s Hospitality Industry

The Iowa Hotel and Lodging Association starts under the direction and management of the Iowa Restaurant Association

A walkway connects the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cedar Rapids and Alliant Energy PowerHouse convention complex to the downtown Cedar Rapids convention center parking lot. (The Gazette)

A new trade group for Iowa hotels and lodging establishments was launched Thursday under the direction and management of the Iowa Restaurant Association.

The Iowa Hotel and Lodging Association, a nonprofit trade association, was incorporated earlier this month, according to a press release. The group will work to promote and defend more than 700 hotels and lodging establishments in the state.

The group’s formation comes as the industry attempts to recover.

Data from the American Hotel and Lodging Association, the newly formed group’s national partner, estimates that Iowa hotels have lost nearly 10,000 jobs and $420 million in room revenue. Employment in the state’s industry is down 9%, with nearly 2,000 pre-pandemic hotel jobs yet to return.

“Iowa’s hospitality and lodging industry was one of the hardest hit business sectors when COVID travel restrictions were put in place,” said Paul Rottenberg, President and CEO. of Orchestrate Hospitality Group and Chairman of the IHLA Board of Trustees, in the statement.

“We need a unified voice as we fight to return to pre-pandemic occupancy rates.”

The group will work toward “recovery-friendly legislation” and a better regulatory environment, the state association said in the statement.

As an inaugural member of Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate’s Iowa Businesses Against Trafficking, he also intends to play an active role in the fight against human trafficking.

The group’s first educational outreach will focus on helping the industry with a new law coming into effect Jan. 1 requiring all hotel employees to be trained on how to spot and report human trafficking crimes. Human being. Hotels must be compliant to host and receive payments for state employee overnight stays or for state meetings held at hotel properties.

“A thriving hospitality industry is essential for strong local economies, and strong state and local hotel associations are essential for a thriving hospitality industry,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the national association.

Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association, will lead IHLA for the time being.

The IHLA Board of Directors includes Paul Rottenberg of Orchestra Hospitality in Des Moines as Chairman of the Board, Ravi Patel of Hawkeye Hotels in Coralville as Vice Chairman. and Catch Des Moines’ Greg Edwards as director.

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Andrew B. Reiter