Asians have a rich tradition of entrepreneurship, self-improvement, and family values. After India’s independence in 1947, many of that country’s young people immigrated to the United States to pursue their education and “the American Dream.”
The hospitality industry was a popular career choice because it offered immediate housing and cash flow, as well as the opportunity to “blend in” despite any cultural differences. Soon, the name “Patel” became synonymous with the hotel business.*
At first, many of these hoteliers met with resistance, especially from bankers and insurance companies who discriminated against Indians, specifically those with the last name Patel.
To fight this problem, a group – the Midsouth Indemnity Association – was formed in Tennessee in 1985. It grew nationwide and eventually changed its name to the Indo American Hospitality Association.
Another group of Indian hoteliers came together in Atlanta in 1989, also with the goals of addressing discrimination issues and of increasing aware-ness of Asian Americans in the hospitality industry. They called themselves the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA).
By the end of 1994, these two groups merged so they could work together more efficiently on behalf of Asian hoteliers throughout the United States. When the two associations joined forces, Indian Americans ultimately found the powerhouse voice needed to achieve their common goals.
AAHOA succeeded in raising awareness within the larger hotel industry of this growing network of hard-working Indian American hoteliers, furthering acceptance of the new hoteliers.
Today AAHOA is the fastest-growing hospitality organization in the United States and the largest membership-based Indian business organization in the United States.