When you’re able to order a Bloody Mary at 11 a.m. on a Sunday, thank Chris Hardman. He spent several years lobbying for the “Brunch Bill,” which Governor Deal signed in early May. The referendum will appear on Georgia’s November ballot.
Hardman serves as a registered lobbyist as well as director of membership for the Georgia Hotel & Lodging Association. He completed the Regynald G. Washington Master of Global Hospitality Management program at the Robinson College of Business in 2014 and credits his degree with helping him develop the communication skills needed to have compelling conversations about political issues.
“When I present to industry groups and talk to elected officials, I refer back to the public speaking and networking experiences I received while pursuing my master’s,” Hardman says. “The relationships I built and cards I exchanged during the program hugely impacted my career.”
As part of his coursework, Hardman earned a certificate in sustainable hospitality operations and wrote a thesis on the sustainability of the state’s hotel-motel tax. He focused on how the tax is implemented as well as its impact on gateway communities (cities located near major tourist attractions). Hardman applied the results of his study to a sustainability project for the Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA), where he also worked at the time.
“I was able to talk about the proper routes to take in order to offer a hospitality product that is not only sustainable but also cost-efficient and feasible,” he recalls.
After five years as a membership development executive at the GRA, Hardman transitioned to his current role at the Georgia Hotel & Lodging Association. Since the hospitality field encompasses more than just restaurants, he jumped at the chance to gain experience in another industry sector.
“At the GRA I ate and drank a lot, so I had to sleep it off at the hotel association,” he laughs.