On the second day of the 43rd annual NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference at the New York Marriott Marquis in Manhattan, New York, Jeffery Stewart, founder and president of Walnut Hill Advisors, led the Government Update panel. During their conversation, four travel leaders weighed in on how those in the industry can improve advocacy efforts.
Among the most important takeaways from a public policy perspective, Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), said that after devastating events in the country’s past, U.S. citizens were able to “come back to relationships” and “take off their partisan hats” to “actually get something done.” He continued, “We have to recognize is what we’re advocating for is the hotel industry, and that’s everybody…We’re representing everybody and building those relationships.”
The panel agreed, and Andy Ingraham, president, founder, and CEO of the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators & Developers (NABHOOD), said that although he and the panels spend their time working in politics, “we’re talking to anybody that would listen. For us, building relationships is critical.” Ingraham said that it’s important to speak to those of all political persuasions, and added that those relationships can be used to lead conversations about the hotel industry. “Once we begin to educate that friend, that individual on how important it is to you and it should be to them and their constituents, then they get it. And I think that’s something critical going forward.”
In addition to building relationships, Ken Greene, president and CEO of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), said that having a unified voice and educating policymakers with “good data” is also important for advocating industry interests. Greene explained, “We all need to be engaged at the local level. Those local leaders become state leaders. Those state leaders become federal leaders, and that takes time and that takes effort. It’s just everybody in this industry knowing what was in their backyard and who’s in their backyard and educating them with good data and a unified voice as an industry.”
Lastly, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association Roger Dow said, “We’ve got to get Congress and our elected officials to understand the length between everything that happens in travel and tourism.” As the travel and tourism industry is vast with a variety of factions, that can be difficult, but to do so, Dow adds, “We’ve got to show people the link to this industry is the link to everything else.”