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Influence

Keep a light on: FRLA welcome innkeepers with special interest chapter

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association launched the special interest Florida Inns Chapter, focused on bed and breakfasts.

The new group formed from a merger between the state’s leading hospitality industry trade association with the Florida Bed and Breakfast Inns. The two groups closely partnered beginning in 2015 with merger talks starting last July, and the FBBI officially became part of FRLA on Jan. 1.

“The creation of a new chapter is always an exciting time, but the launch of the Florida Inns Chapter marks a new era for us,” said Carol Dover, FRLA president and CEO.

“This first state-wide chapter represents the evolution of our industry and our association by pulling together proprietors from across the state who are focused on the same issues – in this case, the success and growth of independent lodging – to further protect, educate and promote their industry.”

The FBBI at the time of the merger included 45 “tight-knit” innkeepers around the state. Joining forces with the FRLA allows them access to the statewide organization’s lobbying resources and connections.

Innkeepers ultimately voted to merge into the larger group in September.

“The goal of the Florida Inns Chapter is to combine member resources, to have one mission, one voice and one story at the local, state and national levels,” said Anthony Sexton, president of the FRLA Inns Chapter.

“The creation of a new FRLA chapter specifically for bed and breakfast owners is an exciting new avenue for FBBI members, and we look forward to continuing to serve our members in the Florida Inns Chapter.”

Sexton works as innkeeper at St. Augustine’s Victorian House Bed & Breakfast.

During the first year of the special interest chapter, former FBBI members will make up its entire membership. Starting next year, all independent lodging owners and operators may join.

The former board for FBBI will serve as leadership for the Florida Inns Chapter through 2021 in an effort to preserve continuity.

FRLA staff will coordinate events and provide staff coordination at the regional level. Members with questions have been directed to Nicole Chapman, FRLA’s Northeast Florida regional director.

The move comes as the role of and regulations around tourism in Florida evolve at a rapid pace. Rules on short-term rentals seem likely to come up again in the 2019 Legislative Session. Gov. Ron DeSantis has repeatedly stressed the importance of tourism to Florida’s economy starting with his inaugural address.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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