History of the Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association
Serving Ohio’s Lodging Industry for Over 115 years!
The Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association (OH&LA) is one of America’s oldest hotel associations. Founded in 1893, the mission of the OH&LA is to provide advocacy, information, resources, and education for Ohio’s lodging properties while promoting and assisting Ohio’s hospitality and tourism industry.
In 1893, Mr. D.C. Shears, general manager of The Grand Hotel in Cincinnati was elected president of the newly formed Ohio State Hotel Association. Other officers included Mr. W.C. Terry of the Hotel French in Lima and Mr. W.H. Maxwell of the Palace Hotel in Cincinnati. Nineteen members signed up in the organization meeting with each paying dues of $5 to $10 annually.
The main purpose for creating OH&LA was to stop hustlers from passing bad five-dollar bills as a method of payment at hotels. However, OH&LA was also created to expand educational opportunities and to establish a legislative voice for the hospitality industry.
The name of the association has changed four times since its inception. Each name signifies a significant step forward in the history of the association and the need to have a name that accurately reflects the structure of the industry and its membership. In 1917, the Ohio State Hotel Association became the Ohio Hotel Association. In 1923, it became the Ohio Hotels Association. In 1964, the name was changed to the Ohio Hotel & Motel Association when it merged memberships with the Ohio Motel Association. On January 1, 1998, the name was changed to its current name: The Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association.
The association has also changed as American society has evolved. Coinciding with women’ suffrage in 1916, the by-laws were changed to eliminate the word “male” and thereby permit females to join the association. Later that year the first woman, a manager at a Cleveland hotel, joined the association. However, it was not until 1993 when Diane Henderson, general manager of the Days Inn Sharonville, was elected the association’s first female president
In 1921 the OH&LA joined with the American Hotel & Lodging Association (formerly American Hotel & Motel Association. The AH&LA has provided a voice for the hotel industry on a national level since 1910. Just two years later the OH&LA gained its not-for-profit status and was incorporated under the signature of the seven member executive committee. Today the OH&LA continues to operate as a not-for-profit (501-C6) organization.
Strong membership in 1928 led to the creation of several city lodging councils that year. OH&LA was able to collect over $30,000 in delinquent accounts and bad checks for its members in 1928. This impressive collection increased members and led to the formation of lodging Councils in Cleveland and Dayton. OH&LA continues to work to improve members bottom lines with programs such as workers compensation group rating, group insurance, electricity and natural gas programs, and others.
Now OH&LA oversees local lodging councils in Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Northwest Ohio, and a Bed & Breakfast Council.
In 1928 the OH&LA helped create the first hotel course of study at the Ohio State University. The working relationship between OH&LA and OSU is still strong today and has extended to other universities with hospitality programs across the state.
OH&LA has had a strong list of Executive Directors. One man whose history is forever linked with the history of the OH&LA is Captain H. Mowrey. “Cap”, was OH&LA’s Executive Director for fifty of its first 100 years (1933-1983). Captain Mowrey retired in 1983 and passed away in 1986.
Howard Nusbaum, Executive Vice President of the OH&LA from 1992 to 2000, is another well remembered director of OH&LA. In the mid 1980’s the association went through a decline in membership and loss in active participation. After a Howard Nusbaum led restructuring the OH&LA began to grow in programs and numbers through the early 1990’s. Howard left the OH&LA for great opportunities in Washington D.C. He is now is the head of the American Resort Development Association.
Keith Stephenson led the OH&LA from 2000 to 2005. Under his directorship the state association signed management agreements with each of the state local lodging councils. The restructuring strengthened OH&LA’s abilities to represent the industry at both the state and local level. However, the tragic accidents of 9/11 that shook the world and impacted the U.S. travel industry also negatively impacted the membership and financials of OH&LA. In 2005,
Amir Eylon helped lead OH&LA to increased membership and strong financials. Amir left the OH&LA in 2007 to become the Ohio State Tourism Director and then on to become the Vice President of Business Development for Brand USA.
Matthew MacLaren, Esq., began as the Executive Director of the Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association in 2007 and continues as the current director. His leadership is helping to continue OH&LA’s rise to a level of national distinction. In 2010 OH&LA reached over 600 members for the first time. OH&LA has increased their focus on local lodging council representation, state government affairs efforts, and helping members improve services while reducing their bottom line. Victories include defeat of a proposed statewide lodging tax in 2005, defeat of a proposed 4% lodging tax in Montgomery County/Dayton in 2009, defeat of the first lodging tax ballot issue in Zanesville in 2010, and succesfull support of a new funding model in 2012 that can double the Ohio Tourism Division budget to up to $10 million annually.