Tony Elenis: A new era of The Roaring Twenties

By Tony Elenis, president and CEO, ORHMA

The 1920s, known as the ‘Roaring Twenties’ got their name from the exuberant, freewheeling popular culture that defined the decade. The most obvious examples of this are jazz bands and flappers. It was the decade that brought dramatic social and political change, flair and freedom to women, and advances in science and technology. This was also the birth era of the ORHMA when the Ontario Restaurant Association (ORA) and the Ontario Hotel & Motel Association (OH&MA) were formed. 

A century later as we enter into a new Roaring Twenties, we still find ourselves in a time of dramatic social and political change and in the midst of tremendous advances in science and technology. The hospitality industry is not immune to these advances and has forced us to adapt and conquer by using technology in our operations for customer experiences. 

The technology era that is among us provides new opportunities to raise benchmarks of services but also introduces new distractors in our sector. These distractors speed up competition which is a hallmark for hospitality operations but now business success is up against a whirlwind of third party players such as Online Travel Agencies (OTA), short-term rentals, ghost kitchens and food-delivery arrangements. 

During the 1920s, many had extra money to spend, and they spent it on consumer goods such as ready-to-wear clothes and home appliances like electric refrigerators. As we enter into the new Era of the Roaring Twenties, we are faced with the same challenges to ensure that the consumer chooses your hotel or restaurant to spend their disposable income. We are not limited to providing a meal or a room anymore but to provide experiences of excellence to a new era of consumers. 

Tony Elenis (left) presents an award to Margaret Grieco at the launch of the Ontario Hospitality Institute  last year.
Tony Elenis (left) presents an award to Margaret Grieco at the launch of the Ontario Hospitality Institute last year.

If that wasn’t enough, we are faced as an industry with a workforce dilemma where the current workforce is exiting at a rapid pace and the availability of talented workers is hitting an all time critical stage. ORHMA will bring upon change with the workforce challenge as we have become the proud custodian of the Ontario Hospitality Institute (OHI) and we remain committed in being the conduit between hospitality students and the hospitality industry while driving the spirit of hospitality to our youth. Collectively we will build an empire of interested youth and develop a road map that includes mentorship, recognition and the spirit of fun for learning and development. 

No matter the challenge, ORHMA has not been and will not remain idle. We are committed to fight and continue being your voice to government. Whether fighting for fair practices on the short term rental municipal challenges or advocating the province for allowing licensees to retail sale beverage alcohol (including delivery), ORHMA has been at the front line on your behalf. We are proud of the 2019 successes that we have achieved together and an overview of our key initiatives for 2020 is available here. 

We are truly honoured to lead the voice of Ontario’s hospitality industry and we thank our diverse membership for the trust and support over the years. We welcome and thank the many new members whom have joined us in 2019 and have supported our work in fostering a positive climate for Ontario’s restaurants, hotels and motels. 

So as we leave this decade behind us and on behalf of ORHMA’s Board of Directors and staff, we wish you a 2020 filled with health and prosperity. Here’s to an exciting new year and all of the wishes and promises it has to offer you. Let’s make this new era of the 20’s one that is represented with change and growth. We thank you for all that you do for the hospitality industry and for being part of ORHMA, where there is benefit in belonging.