October 4, 2018

Restaurant and hotel associations merge to form HospitalityMaine

Courtesy / Kia Hewins
Courtesy / Kia Hewins
Steve Hewins, president/CEO of the Maine Innkeepers and Maine Restaurant associations, has overseen and will announce the launch of the two associations' merger into HospitalityMaine, which he will also head.

Maine Hospitality Summit highlights

Here are some of the highlights of the second annual Maine Hospitality Summit that will be held Oct. 29-30 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor:

  • President and CEO Steve Hewins unveils the vision, goals and objectives of the new HospitalityMaine

  • Greg Dugal covers the advocacy agenda and upcoming legislative session.

  • Labor Commissioner John Butera, executive chef Steven Learned and Eastern Maine Community College's VP of academic affairs, Elizabeth Russell, discuss ways to tackle Maine's Hospitality Workforce Challenges.

  • Peter Cooke, Ben Martens and Rauni Kew show how green operations equal greater profitability.

  • Lisa Kolb of Acorn Internet Services Inc. will offer suggestions on how hoteliers can deal with the mega online players.

  • Ed Doyle of RealFood Consulting leads an interactive session on defining the guest experience through strategies practiced by cutting-edge restaurants across the country.

  • Share ideas with peers in a lively Roundtable Discussion of the pressing issues the industry faces.

  • Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills will be a featured speaker.

For the complete schedule, visit To register click here

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The Maine Innkeepers and Maine Restaurant associations will join forces in a merger to create HospitalityMaine.

HospitalityMaine will be headed by President and CEO Steve Hewins, who already leads both the innkeepers' and restaurant associations.

"We need to be better recognized as an industry sector," Hewins told Mainebiz via email. "HospitalityMaine will seek to have a 'seat at the table' in any discussion, initiative or plan to grow the state's economy, including encouraging people to move here and for young people to stay here. Also, keep in mind, hospitality does not equate only to tourism. Nearly two-thirds of all restaurant sales and one-third of all hotel sales come from Maine residents."

The new HospitalityMaine logo will be launched into the public sphere on a commemorative beer label this evening (Oct. 4), from 4-7 p.m., at D.L. Geary Brewing in Portland, during the brewery's "Nashville to Portland" party. (View a promotional video online here. The event is free and open to the public.

The new association will be officially announced at the second annual Maine Hospitality Summit, Oct. 29 and 30 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

Building a Maine workforce

Courtesy / Kathleen Pierce
Courtesy / Kathleen Pierce
The new HospitalityMaine logo is featured on a special-edition Geary's India Pale Ale.

A key initiative in launching the new organization will be to "home-grow" new hospitality workers and retain existing ones in the industry, Hewins said.

As part of that, HospitalityMaine plans to announce at the summit an apprenticeship program for the next generation of chefs and hotel workers. Details of how the program would work and the number of apprenticeships to be created will be revealed at the summit, he said.

But he added that it would be a "new approach to sourcing employees, and identifying the educational and career path in our industry for young people."

Partners in developing the program are the Maine Department of Labor, Maine Community College System, National Restaurant Association, American Hotel and Lodging Association and the 950 members that make up the association.

Hewins said he will also release at the summit a University of Maine report that identifies new metrics for the industry, including for each county across the state, along with other data about jobs, both current and needed.

Positive long-term trends

Maine's hospitality sector has had nine straight years of annual record growth since the great recession and is expected to set a new record for 2018, said Hewins. According to figures provided by Maine Revenue Services, taxable retail sales for restaurants and hotels went from $2.5 billion in 2009 to $3.8 billion in 2017.

"Keep in mind that this is only for restaurants and hotels and the multiplier effect is many billions more," he said.

Hewins said the merger seeks to address a "lack of understanding about Maine's hospitality industry — from the general public, state policymakers and educators who rarely consider the positives about the hospitality industry and tend to focus on the negatives. This goes back to the beginning of tourism in Maine in the 1840s, when visitors starting coming here and we began serving 'people from away.' The reality is that the hospitality industry is embedded in our state's brand and culture, and the 'tip of the spear' in building a sustainable economic development strategy for the state."

"I think it's important for the hospitality industry to speak as one voice, particularly in Augusta, when we're trying to work with the legislature," Jean Ginn Marvin, owner of Nonantum Resort in Kennebunkport and a HospitalityMaine board member, told Mainebiz. "We have so many strong people who own hotels, who own restaurants, and we all face the same issues, more or less. The biggest issue everyone is facing is workforce development, and the two associations together can better attack that issue."

"It's been a long time coming," she added. "I think the people of Maine and the Legislature will realize we're the economic engine of the state."

Hewins said the merger has been years in the making. He came on to head the two separate associations in 2016. The merger process began in February 2017.

"The issues that restaurants and hotels have are pretty much the same," he said. "So it made sense to be one organization."

As separate associations, each had its own board, bylaws, employees, operating systems and the like.

"We were all working out of same office in Augusta when I came," he said. "But one side of the room was the restaurant association and the other side was the innkeepers association."

The innkeepers association was formed in 1921 and the restaurant association in 1953.

"So there's a long trail of history, of many businesses being in one or the other," he said. "And some of the people who have been around a long time were proud of the fact that they were in one or the other for many years."

During the merger discussions, he said, it was important to explain to members that the joint organization would retain the focus that each association had enjoyed separately.

Consolidating management and operations will eliminate redundancies and leverage the interests of all members under one umbrella, he said. The new name, "HospitalityMaine," is designed to represent both sides as a single, major sector of the economy, he said.

"Hospitality is not a collection of restaurant and hotels," Hewins said. "It's a definable part of Maine that has not been perceived that way in the past."


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