Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Shah

Nitin Shah

Chairman & CEO, Embassy National Bank

Nitin Shah has the unique distinction of simultaneously being a successful hotelier and a successful banker. Mr. Shah serves as president of Imperial Investments Group Inc., a Georgia-based hospitality company he founded in 1984 which currently has assets approaching $100 million, including 15 hotels plus a variety of commercial real estate projects. Mr. Shah is also chairman and CEO of Embassy National Bank, an Atlanta-based community bank he helped establish in 2007 which has grown to $70 million in assets and is a leading lender to small businesses in the southeastern United States. In 1999, Mr. Shah demonstrated his ability as an entrepreneur who can translate a good idea into a great bottom line when he collaborated with a colleague to develop the URL “www.hotels.com” into a solid business venture which was eventually sold to the Hotel Reservations Network (HRN). In 1989, he was a founder of and in 1993 has served as chairman of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), one of the world's most influential and respected hospitality groups which has 10,000 members who together own more than 20,000 hotels with a combined market value of almost $130 billion. Mr. Shah continues to be actively involved in a leadership role with AAHOA, serving for the past four years as co-chair of the Governance and Strategic Planning Committee. Currently, he serves as a member of two prestigious advisory boards - for the College of Business at Georgia College, as well as for Asian Studies at Kennesaw State University. Other civic activities include the Rotary Club of Emory-Druid Hills, where he is president-elect, and the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), where he is a member of the advisory board. He is also a frequent guest speaker at various hospitality, banking, and cross-cultural management conferences in both the United States and India. Born in Mumbai, Mr. Shah earned his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Bombay and his master's degree in business administration at Georgia College and State University.

Mr. Shah can be contacted at 770-822-9111 or nitinshah@embassynationalbank.com

Coming up in September 2020...

Hotel Group Meetings: Demand vs. Supply

It is a great time for hotel group meetings. It is expected that once again this sector will grow by 5-10% in 2020, partly due to the increasing value of in-person group meetings. Because people now spend so much time in front of their screens, face-to-face interactions have become a more treasured commodity in our modern world. Plus, the use of social media reinforces the value of engagement, discussion, conversation, and networking - all areas where group meetings shine. Despite this rosy outlook, there is a concern that demand for meetings far exceeds the supply of suitable venues and hotels. There are very few "big box" properties with 500-plus rooms and extensive conference facilities being built, and this shortage of inventory could pose a serious challenge for meeting planners. In addition to location concerns, the role of the meeting planner has also evolved significantly. Planners are no longer just meeting coordinators - they are de facto travel agents. Cultural interactions, local dining, experiential travel, and team-building activities are all now a part of their meeting mix. Plus, they have to cater to evolving tastes. Millennials are insisting on healthier venues and activities, and to meet their demands, hotels are making yoga breaks, fresh-pressed juices, plant-based diets, state-of-the-art gyms, and locally-sourced menus available. Millennials are also insisting that meeting venues practice Corporate Social Responsibility, which means upholding sustainable and ethical values; investment in the local community; health and well-being of employees; and general business practices that reflect being good citizens of the planet. Finally, there is a growing trend to merge meetings with other local events, such as music festivals, sporting events, and cultural attractions. The December Hotel Business Review will report on issues relevant to group meetings and will document what some hotels are doing to support this part of their operations.