By Anthony Anton

I’m really proud of how far we have come.

The year 2020 happened and it was beyond awful. Global pandemic. Complete shutdowns of our industry. More than one hundred thousand of our team members unemployed. Billions of dollars in sales lost. And yet you are reading this article, which means you are still standing.

At the Washington Hospitality Association, we have never stopped striving to make Washington the best place to do business.

Our government affairs program engages in political battles daily to build a better business climate. We use our Education Foundation to train and support our workforce. We identify and offer the best cost-saving programs to better position your business for success. We provide breaking news and daily industry communications to translate government rules into easy-to-follow action items.

Each one of these four pillars of our organization – advocacy, workforce, cost-saving programs and information – seeks to generate four times the value of your annual dues investment. We want it to be a no-brainer to rejoin the association each year – especially in a global pandemic.

The four pillars were created after member feedback surfaced years ago on social media. Why would anyone join our association? What are we promising? What value does our organization bring? I went to the bi-annual membership survey for answers – you all clearly told us what is important. The pillar wording has been fine-tuned 50 different times since then, but the core remains the same. You continue to tell us these pillars are what you value.

And in the past year, we have been better than ever at leveraging our resources at the national level to help your business here in Washington state.

The Paycheck Protection Programs and Restaurant Revitalization Fund did not happen without your memberships with the National Restaurant Association and the American Hotel & Lodging Association. In the past, some of you have questioned why we stay connected with our national counterparts. This is a year we think, “thank God we are.” I can’t wait to see what our partnerships at the national level will do in the year to come.

The articles in this special Buyer’s Guide issue will continue to detail how your association is your greatest resource in this unprecedented time. A couple of things I would ask you to take moving forward in the coming twelve months.

  1. When I was coaching my son’s baseball team and someone slid hard or fell down, I encouraged the players to get up, dust off and keep playing. We need to do the same. Don’t dwell on the negatives of 2020. Get up, dust yourself off, learn your lesson and keep playing the game.
  2. With the shutdowns of our industry, the odds were probably not with your business to survive this time. And yet it did – because you did. You adjusted, you changed, you redid your business model three times, you focused your team on the urgent and important, you focused on your customer value and you did what you had to survive. If you want to reach the next level of success, don’t simply stop because the calendar has turned or vaccinations are up. You have been shown the recipe for greatness, now use it.
  3. Rebuild right. Hire with a career ladder in mind and with technology in mind. You have a chance to rebuild your business without the mistakes you made when you established it the first time. Take advantage of this moment to do so.
  4. In the coming year, use every pillar of the association as a resource. Tell your territory manager you want a benefit review. Email us and get a quote on programs to explore how much money you can save each month — we’re regularly saving members three and four times your RETRO checks. Maybe you finally want to use your free 30-minute consult with an expert on our Advisory Network — to help you resolve a legal issue or bounce an idea off of Rick Braa.

Lastly, I want to encourage you to focus. We made it this far despite the odds.

As Jim Collins wrote, “You must maintain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time, have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

We fiercely believe you are going to make it. Your association will continue to remain by your side as your ultimate resource. 

President and CEO Anthony Anton,