• Maria Navarro

AAHOACON 2022: Let’s Build a Bigger Table for Women

As a young hospitality professional, this is the kind of event that I like to see...and I highly recommend you watch or listen to the full video from the recent AAHOACON2022. Women empowering women. We might be better than we were 15 years ago in terms of equity between males and females in the business world, but we still have a long way to go.


These women are paving the way for the rest of us, so thank you. The panel included: Jagruti Panwala, Lina Patel, Tejal N. Patel, and Tina Patel. They shared their experiences and women in hospitality and their involvement in AAHOA, the Asian American Hotel Owners Association.


Lina Patel Jagruti Panwala Tejal Patel Tina Patel AAHOA
Panelists Lina, Jagruti, Tejal, Tina share their experiences at AAHOACON.

Here are some of the most important things that were mentioned during the panel at AAHOACON 2022.


How has AAHOA contributed to female hoteliers and how can it continue to do so?


It’s become clear that women are beginning to not only make an appearance in the corporate world, but they are taking charge. There are more women now wanting to take on more responsibilities as leaders in a company. They want more leadership roles.


Events like this help to promote and help women get involved and see for themselves what AAHOA is all about. AAHOA has grown with women, allowing them to “come out of their shells”. To make them realize their full potential and it plans to continue to do so over the years. Every year gets better.


Why is it important to have women in leadership roles?


Women bring a different perspective to the table. We are used to wearing so many different hats that we know how to balance every and any task. And the best part of it? We're still going to get everything done. It's part of our magic.


When women are part of a discussion, the room changes. We become more relatable and we’re able to bring a diversity factor to decision-making progress.


Jagruti Panwala AAHOA
Jagruti Panwala speaks about being the first female AAHOA chair

What does it mean for young women to have seen Jangruti Panwala as the first AAHOA chairwoman?


The biggest reward that has come out of this is not having your picture in a magazine, but being recognized by younger girls and their parents. To know that all the sleepless nights, the emails, the phone calls that it took to be there, and the hard work, has paid off.


The impact that you can have on people with a position like this is the biggest personal reward there is.


The fact that AAHOA is one of the first associations to choose a female leader is huge. This is what inspires more women to know that they can do the same if they set their minds to it.


What are some of the obstacles that you had to face to be where you are today?


It all comes down to accepting the fact that women can’t be labeled. We can be business and family women at the same time. We can juggle managing a hotel while still being able to spend time with our families. Also, we don’t have to have a set date or expectation as to when we’re having babies. If we want to have babies. (Dogs count as babies too!)


We don’t have to sacrifice or give up something else in our lives in order to be successful.


People don’t go around asking men the same questions, do they?


So why do they ask us?


The support from spouses, family, and friends makes you feel as if the world has no limits. Like they say, “the world is your oyster”.


It is incredible what one can accomplish when surrounded by positive and loving people who want to see you succeed and be your best self.


Panelists Lina, Jagruti, Tajal, and Tina share their experiences at AAHOACON.
Panelists Lina, Jagruti, Tejal, and Tina pass on their wisdom at AAHOACON.

What advice would you pass on to those aspiring to become future hoteliers and leaders?


First of all, be honest and ask yourself what you want to do. To know that whatever you put your mind to, you can achieve it. Getting out of your comfort zone is a must. It can be scary at first, but soon you’ll be glad you took the step forward.


If you’re interested in something or you’re doubting yourself, get involved. Get to see it for yourself and realize if it’s something that you’d like to do or not. Make connections with people, and network. Open yourself up to new opportunities by getting to know people.


We can’t forget that the backbone of this industry is treating people with love. Making them feel welcome at all times. Next time you go to an event, don't be shy and reach out to people. Listen to their story and their journey.


There are so many ways to get involved with AAHOA. The only thing missing is you taking the next step and grabbing that opportunity. You never know where it's going to take you.


At the end of the day, let’s be women helping women. Let’s admire when someone else succeeds. Let’s listen respectfully to all our voices. Let’s realize that together, we have the power to do anything and everything.


Let’s build a bigger table to fit more women helping women!


To watch the full video, click here.


Maria Navarro is a new contributor to hertelier. Born and raised in Mexico, Maria moved to the US with big dreams! Though only 26 she has a passion for hospitality and has worked in a variety of management positions for luxury hotels. Now Maria is pursuing her other love––writing about hospitality––and has launched her eponymous copywriting company, offering services in both English and Spanish. Feel free to get in touch with Maria for any writing projects!