The HOT Website is Good For Texas, AAHOA
The state of Texas publishes Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) receipts for the public to view, broken down monthly by city and business name. At first glance, this seems a bit unfair, considering almost every other industry only has it's aggregate numbers published on the web. As a matter of fact, all tax receipts except hotel and liquor taxes are kept completely confidential. The hotel tax numbers of have been published on the web for a while now, and it's something that people have just gotten used to, for better or for worse. I for one am for keeping the numbers published. There is a fear that the data allows people to snoop on one another. I say they're right. I can watch my competition and see how I measure up. It's healthy competition, and as a business owner, I want to make decisions with all the information that I can possibly collect. Coming from the world of software development, I am a data freak!
The hotel occupancy tax data is also a measure for government transparency. In principle, business professional organizations such as TH&LA and AAHOA should never oppose government transparency and accountability measures. In Texas, we are lucky to have such great custodians of hotel legislature and hotel advocacy in TH&LA and AAHOA. In Texas, hotel tax is used to bolster hotel & tourism business, unlike Georgia where a $5 room tax was imposed to fund a transportation pet project. We have a great track record of holding the government's feet to the fire, and we should continue down that road.
AAHOA's PAC is relatively young. The true financial potential of the PAC has not yet been realized. However, AAHOA leadership has opted to pursue the closure of the State of Texas' HOT website. They are not willing to reach a compromise and instead are taking cues from a vocal few who wish to make the HOT data totally confidential.
I admit that I am not as passionate as my opponents on this issue. They already seem to have the leadership sold, and I couldn't care less. TH&LA is a largest advocacy arm from the lodging industry, they are split on the issue, and thus have chosen to focus on more important issues on which it's members agree. AAHOA has all but decided (so far) to pursue the HOT website issue with or without TH&LA's support. You will have AAHOA going about this alone, without the backing of and possible opposition from TH&LA, as well as opposition from the real estate industry, municipalities, appraisal districts, and even some individual lobbyists who have already vowed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the cause.
So my question is, "really?" Do you really want to cave to an uninformed yet vocal few?