The Washington Restaurant Association (WRA) and the Washington Lodging Association (WLA) have taken a further step in strengthening a partnership that will lead to the creation one of the state’s largest trade associations.
On Oct. 1, the WRA and WLA began operations under a joint operating agreement, combining staff and operational functions in the WRA’s Olympia office. Under the agreement, the associations remain separate legal entities with independent Boards of Directors. However, the two boards will hold joint board meetings and are governed by a joint executive committee. WRA’s President & CEO Anthony Anton is now also serving as WLA’s chief executive officer.
The next step in the WLA and WRA collaboration will be the launching of a unified hospitality association under a new brand in 2016. The decision to join forces comes after an extensive, two-year due diligence process which focused on the common interests of the state’s restaurant and lodging sectors.
“This is an exciting time for our membership and the businesses they represent across Washington. Combined leadership capabilities and viewpoints also creates more opportunities for innovation,” said Anton. “By joining forces, we now have an expanded government affairs team that is increasing our influence and effectively addressing the challenges facing our industry at both the state and local level.”
The new, unified hospitality association will have more than 6,000 members and advocate on behalf of an industry that employs more than 250,000 Washingtonians and generates $17.7 billion in revenue each year. It will also serve as the primary source of hospitality information for the state’s restaurants and hotels.
“This alliance delivers even more value to members, and we are excited to be joining forces with the Washington Restaurant Association,” said Matt Van Der Peet, WLA chair and general manager of the Westin Bellevue Hotel. “By coming together, we are better able to leverage the strength and resources of both associations, benefiting our members, their employees and, ultimately, the state as a whole,” he said.
About the Washington Restaurant AssociationFounded in 1929, the Washington Restaurant Association (WRA) is the leading business association representing the state’s restaurant industry, which includes more than 5,700 member companies. Restaurants are the largest private employer in the state, with more than 218,000 employees. Washington’s 13,832 restaurants annually contribute $15.1 billion to the state economy, generate $757 million in state taxes, and pay more than $3.8 billion in wages each year. Washington restaurants are the cornerstone of the economy, vital to communities and fundamental to careers.
About the Washington Lodging AssociationFounded in 1920, the Washington Lodging Association (WLA) is the trade and professional association for Washington’s lodging industry. WLA is an advocacy organization and works toward a favorable legislative and regulatory environment for lodging and tourism. It serves 500 lodging members representing 40,000 guestrooms, as well as more than 125 allied members who serve the lodging industry. WLA also works to promote Washington as a tourism destination and publishes the Washington State Visitors’ Guide and its online companion, StayInWashington.com.