Tourism, both domestic and international, is a continuously growing industry all over the world. In Australia, Deloitte has called it as one of the “super sectors” of the next decade. It is no wonder then that organisations like the Accommodation Association of Australia (AAoA) are extremely important in the industry. Evolving out of the former Hotel Motel & Accommodation Association, the organisation was originally established in Queensland in the 1960s by a group of moteliers. According to Richard Munro, the CEO of AAoA, the group simply wanted better outcomes for their industry.
Today, the AAoA plays a vital role in the tourism accommodation sector of Australia and has been servicing the industry for more than 40 years. It has continuously grown since its inception and has followed the trends of the accommodation industry very closely. What was once a small body governing motels and small hotels has now morphed into a national organisation that covers thousands of members from famous hotels to regional boutique motels.
Providing a wide range of support
As a governing body, the AAoA prosecute a very clear agenda on behalf of the industry though they do not play a regulatory role in it. Unlike similar organisations, the AAoA does not rate or regulate their members and instead trusts them to conduct in a professional manner, particularly in the business-to-consumer side of things. Instead, the AAoA is interested in four main areas: demand drivers, employment, regulation, and taxation. These areas are broadly defined but encompass much of the work undertaken by the association.
For instance, supporting good infrastructure that will hopefully attract more visitors is part of their focus on demand drivers. Securing better outcomes for the industry around penalty rates, public holidays, and part-time provisions is vital for the employment sector. Lobbying for better payroll tax and standing off against companies and services like Airbnb and online travel agencies is also an important part of their work. While the government has the last word in regulation, the accommodation industry largely operates within itself and the AAoA tries to protects their interests at all times so they in a constant communication with federal bodies.
Making the effort to address national issues
To that end, the AAoA has to stay up to speed with the latest developments in the accommodation industry as well as any changes in legislation that may affect them. For instance, the AAoA has been lobbying the government to provide clearer definitions of the Building Code of Australia. Right now, different types of accommodation fall into varying categories. While residential homes fall under a different class than hotels and motels, for instance, services like Airbnb are blurring the lines as people are renting their homes for short-term stays. As one might expect, this has a direct impact on the accommodation industry and the AAoA wants the government to address that.
Still, the AAoA has to remain impartial on the political side of things. According to Richard, the association is “definitely agnostic” in this department as their only goal is “to get the best outcomes for the members”. Even if it takes a bit of extra effort, they take into account both sides of the government by consulting with the appropriate bodies. Thankfully, the AAoA has had a lot of success in working with the government to help shape legislation that makes the accommodation industry more viable for their members. The association is mostly involved with the federal government as it would be nearly impossible to work with every local government.
Responding to the industry’s needs
Becoming a member of the AAoA comes with pronounced benefits which are hard to resist.
“We have a lot of benefits that we negotiate on behalf of our members. First and foremost, we are doing advocacy. Not any one individual business could go out and do what we do. Combining all the members together and pursuing the agenda as a peak body makes a big difference. Secondly, we offer an industrial relationships hotline and once you become a member, it’s a free service. Basically, members can get as much industrial relationships advice as they want, about things like wage rates, management contracts, or even things like an unfair dismissal. Other benefits are around negotiations such as the case with banks. We have negotiated the best merchant rate for our members so when they transact with a credit card, the fees are the lowest. We also have cashback benefits through a loyalty program which we offer for purchases through our buying platform”, explains Richard.
As the peak representative body of the accommodation industry, the AAoA is deeply involved in everything that can result in better outcomes for their members. Skilled workers, for example, is a key topic that is directly addressed by the association in the form of specialized academies. In order to make sure that enough skilled people are available to work in the industry, the association has developed the AAoA Academy to train prospective employees so that they can cover the necessities of the industry in serving all of the incoming customers.
According to Richard, there is an exciting future in terms of growth for the industry, both due to the increasing number of domestic visitors but also due to a large influx of interest from Asian countries. At the moment, the organisation is also conducting a lot of work in pre-employments programs as part of the jobactive initiative of the Australian government. That involves training people for two weeks before they join the industry and simultaneously offering qualifications, certifications, and diplomas to people who are already working in the accommodation sector. After all, one of the best ways to reward those employees is to ensure their long-term qualifications in the industry.
Overall, the AAoA has a crucial role in the accommodation industry that continuously benefits its members. From lobbying better regulations in the government to ensuring that the industry can retain its viability in the long term, the association ensures that its members will continue to profit. As the tourism and accommodation industry continues to grow, the AAoA will surely follow alongside it.
AT A GLANCE
WHO: The Accommodation Association of Australia
WHAT: A national, peak governing body that provides a unified voice for the tourism accommodation industry
WHERE: Suite 1, Level 2, 189 Kent St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia