OHLA Annual Conference 2018

Posted on Posted in I <3 Hotels, Marketing, News, Travel

Last week, we attended the 2018 OHLA Annual Conference to give a presentation about branding. If you’ve never heard of OHLA before, it’s the Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association and, it’s one of the oldest hotel associations in the country. Founded in 1893, OHLA’s main purpose was actually originally to prevent the passing of counterfeit five dollar bills among hotels, but it’s come a long way in 125 years of existence. Today, OHLA is a leading resource for Ohio hoteliers, providing advocacy, information, resources and education.


Unique Lodging Ohio

Our presentation was part of the conference’s ULO recommended track, a series of educational sessions specifically tailored to members of an OHLA subgroup called ULO. ULO stands for Unique Lodging of Ohio and consists of relatively small, unique lodging opportunities like bed and breakfasts, inns and guesthouses. And on the evening before our talk we had a chance to meet and greet a number of members of the group at the ULO reception.

The Gala and Stars of the Industry

After mingling with the ULOs, we picked up our registration materials and  headed to the 2018 Conference Gala which featured great food, presentations by industry leaders as well as OHLA’s “Stars of the Industry” Awards ceremony.


Marriott’s Take on Soft Brands

Before the awards, we were treated to several presentations. As marketers, the one that stood out to us the most was a branding presentation from Marriott’s Vice President of Full Service Franchising, Kip Vreeland. Kip gave a fascinating talk about Marriott’s branding strategy and their new soft brands including The Autograph Collection, Tribute Portfolio and The Luxury Collection. After Vreeland’s presentation it was time to honor our outstanding industry colleagues!


Stars of the Industry Award Winners:

Take a look at this year’s award winners, truly a group of stars!

  • Server of the Year: Jeffrey Rhoden, Hyatt Regency Columbus
  • Housekeeper of the Year: Sheila Andino, Marriott Cincinnati Northeast
  • Front Desk Associate of the Year: Dina Giddens, Hilton Columbus Downtown
  • Supervisor / Manager of the Year: Sheila Pugh, Holiday Inn Wilmington/ Roberts Centre
  • Service Superstar of the Year: Mark Garrett, Hilton Columbus at Easton
  • General Manager of the Year: David Minah, The Tudor Arms Hotel Cleveland, A Doubletree by Hilton
  • Hospitality Leadership Team of the Year: Mills Park Hotel
  • Allied Member of the Year: Plunkett’s Pest Control
  • Unique Lodging of Ohio Property of the Year 51+ Rooms:  The Lodge and Conference Center at Geneva-on-the-Lake
  • Unique Lodging of Ohio Property of the Year 21-50 Rooms: The Granville Inn
  • HSMAI Sales Scout of the Year: Michael Shannon, Hotel LeVeque, An Autograph Collection
  • 2018 Legislator of the Year: Dave Greenspan, Ohio House of Representatives


Buy Into Who You Are

On Tuesday morning we gave our presentation, “Buy Into Who You Are, the Dos and Don’ts of Creative Marketing Communication for Unique Brands.” If you missed it, our talk covered the importance of commitment, understanding your property and consistency as they relate to brand success. You can download the presentation slides and some supplemental materials on our website.

The Luncheon and Other Fun Parts of the Conference

After our presentation, we attended the OHLA Luncheon and Annual Meeting. Some of the highlights from the Luncheon included  Ohio Tourism Director Matt Maclaren sharing insights about how his organization is promoting tourism to the Buckeye State and a similar talk from Mike Fullerton from Brand USA, which is dedicated to marketing the United States as a premiere travel destination worldwide. Hearing from these two speakers was a great reminder that local hotel marketing is part of an even bigger picture of travel marketing at the state and local levels.

A “Cool” Exhibitor Experience

What’s a conference without a great exhibitor hall? Between educational sessions we had time to peruse the exhibitor space and meet with a variety of vendors. It was quite the event and we made sure to fill up our swag bags!  There was also an amazing silent auction which featured room-stays at several attending hotels. Unfortunately we didn’t win, but our fingers are crossed for next year!


Up Next?

OHLA 2018 was a great experience, and it was nice to meet some of the  people who work in the hospitality industry across Ohio! It’s got us even more excited about our next industry conference, the 2019 AIHP Summit in Cincinnati!

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