Many of these new immigrants arrived in America with backgrounds as entrepreneurs and business owners.
During the 1970s, Indian Americans saw tremendous opportunities for prosperity in the hospitality industry, and many began to save their money in order to purchase hotels. Word quickly spread throughout the community about the potential of the hotel industry as a niche market, and the Indian American influence in hospitality began.
With a can-do attitude, a willingness to take risks, and a desire to take control of their own destiny, Indian American hotel owners succeeded – many of them perhaps beyond their own expectations. They succeeded as smart business owners and they succeeded as good citizens, all while respecting and maintaining their heritage as well as culture.
These new hoteliers faced discrimination within the industry, particularly from banks and insurance companies. To overcome these obstacles, hoteliers collaborated to form various groups, culminating in the creation of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) in 1989.
Today, AAHOA members own 60% of all hotels in the United States. Many of the original “accidental hoteliers” have passed the baton to their U.S.-educated children. These second-generation and third-generation of sophisticated, professional hotel owners and developers are positioned to build on the foundation established by their immigrant parents.
AAHOA is one of the hospitality industry’s most respected and influential organizations, having celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2019. AAHOA represents nearly 20,000 members nationwide, who own 60 percent of the hotels in the U.S.