Realizing they are stronger together than apart, the two groups recently announced an upcoming merger that will help them advocate for and interpret legislation affecting both industries.
To work more effectively on issues affecting their collective industries, the Washington Restaurant Association and Washington Lodging Association will merge later this year.
“Combining resources provides a stronger organization for our members and a stronger voice,” Stan Bowman, president and CEO of the Washington Lodging Association, told The Seattle Times.
The two groups have been working together for the last several years on issues such as tourism promotion and workplace safety, as well as a law that raised the minimum wage in Seattle and is affecting both the restaurant and lodging industries.
“We just thought we could be stronger together—there’s no crisis; there’s no big thing other than the challenges of the industry are getting bigger every day,” said Anthony Anton, president and CEO of the Washington Restaurant Association, who will lead the newly merged association.
There’s no name for the new organization, which is expected to be operational by October 1, and the groups are meeting in June to formalize new bylaws.
“A lot of the work is front of us,” said Anton, who added that a major aim of the new organization will be developing a world-class government affairs program. With so much white noise, it’s harder to not only get the right information out there regarding legislation but also to clarify it and what it means for businesses. Sharing legal resources can help alleviate some of that noise.
“Our theme is how does one plus one equal three?” Anton said. “They’re both strong organizations. They’ve both grown over the last few years. So the real question became, how do we get to the point where the sum is greater than the parts?”
On a national level, organizations representing the restaurant and lodging industries combined forces last month for a joint Hill day.
A thousand stakeholders from The National Restaurant Association and American Hotel & Lodging Association helped raise awareness among lawmakers on issues such as the need for reforms to the Affordable Care Act, protecting the franchise model, and enacting other pro-business policies to promote job growth.