More than 500 hospitality professionals gathered in the nation’s capitol May 17–18 to discuss the industry’s most pressing matters with Washington, D.C., policymakers.
Hosted by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), the Legislative Action Summit updated attendees on industry concerns and provided them with the tools needed to express their views to their state representatives. In a talk closed to press, Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of The Cook Report, provided insights and analysis on this year’s presidential race and who will control the House and Senate next year. For the majority of the first day, attendees received a master class in Lobbying 101, detailing effective ways to express their opinions to Congress, with political messaging expert Steven Allen there to provide direction. AH&LA and AAHOA members learned what to do—and what not to do—when they approached the Hill the next day.
The Legislative Action Summit zeroed in on a select few top advocacy issues: Stopping online booking scams, regulating short-term rentals like Airbnb, concerns over overtime and joint-employer rules, and stopping drive-by lawsuits.
The final speaker of day one was Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). He cited hospitality’s massive impact on the U.S. economy as the reason why hoteliers must express their concerns to politicians in order to continue a thriving business. Each day, nearly 5 million people check into a hotel. The hospitality sector employs more than 1.9 million Americans, and generates nearly $1.4 trillion in travel revenue. On its own, lodging brings in $176 billion in sales revenue.
“My role today is to explain to you just how critical your role is. But I’ve got a feeling that you already know, which is why you’re here. It’s why you’re taking time out of running your businesses. You’ve come here to tell us what your needs are and how we can better serve you, so you can better serve our country,” Hoyer said. “A real economic resurgence will only be possible once businesses have certainty and reassurance that the government will be a partner by investing in their future.”
On day two, keynote speaker Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) shared his perspective on the current Congressional landscape and its potential implications for the hotel industry. It was then off to Capitol Hill, where hoteliers had the opportunity to meet with their Congressional Representatives to educate them on the issues most impactful to hospitality’s bottom line.
To wrap up the two-day event, AH&LA hosted its annual Stars of the Industry reception, which recognized outstanding employee and property accomplishments in 2015. For a full list of winners, click here.