Showing Lawmakers the Heart of the Industry

“Tell your stories about how you are job creators and how you employ people in your communities… Share your desires to hire more people and expand your business, and tell them about how many people you employ in their district.” Congressman and former hotelier Ami Bera offered this advice to hoteliers during last spring’s Legislative Action Summit, before they met with other lawmakers on Capitol Hill. His words are a testament to the power of telling the lodging industry’s story. They also show what exactly is at the heart of our hotels—the people and opportunities the industry provides. The American Hotel & Lodging Association urges you to take up Congressman Bera’s call to action and showcase the heart of your hotel for your representatives and senators.

For more than a year, AH&LA has been facilitating dozens of “Heart of the House” tours, which take members of Congress on a behind-the-scenes tour in hotels across the country. As these members meet the employees who make hotels work day in and day out, they see firsthand the incredible teamwork, preparation, and labor that goes into running a successful property. Our industry provides diverse and aspirational career opportunities, and we offer competitive wages, benefits, and a lifelong career track, of which these tours provide living proof.

The feedback we’ve received from the legislators who took these tours has been overwhelmingly positive and has concretely demonstrated their value.

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“The men and women I met today are truly the heart of this hotel,” said Patrick Murphy, a representative of Florida’s 18th Congressional District, after taking a tour. “It’s clear from their commitment and hard work that this industry provides incredible upward mobility. I have no doubt that these hard-working individuals will make the most of their career, provide for their families, and give back to this community.”
Scott Peters, a representative of California’s 52nd Congressional District, concurs. “The men and women I met today are the heart of the hotel, and their dedication to excellence ensures that visitors to this hotel, and to San Diego, have a great experience,” he said.

Hotel property visits are also an effective way for lodging professionals to get substantial face time and build relationships with their representatives. These “Heart of the House” tours demonstrate firsthand how the legislative process in Washington, D.C., directly impacts hotel operations and they are a critical tool for grassroots advocacy. This year alone, AH&LA has worked with state associations and our members to facilitate nearly two dozen tours with Members of Congress, which is a nearly 70 percent increase compared to last year’s tours.

After visiting a hotel in Nebraska, Lee Terry, former representative of Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, agreed. “It’s clear that tourism creates jobs for American workers including right here in Nebraska…and I will continue to ensure that Congress does all it can to support the hotel industry and travel and tourism to our great country.”

Right now, laws passed and regulations implemented in Washington have enormous implications for our industry. We are leading the charge to level the playing field with short-term online rental companies, fighting to protect the franchisee model, pushing back on new overtime rules that would hurt small businesses, and urging regulatory agencies to stop bad fake reviewers from deceiving our customers online. The closer lawmakers can get to the everyday operations of our businesses, the greater the depth of their knowledge, and the more they understand the need to protect job growth in our industry, the stronger we are.

The positive feedback from participating members of Congress has been gratifying. Tour after tour, our lawmakers are impressed by our industry’s economic bona fides, our commitment to our employees, and the properties’ deep engagement with their communities. These legislators now have a personal, positive story to tell about their experience in a hotel. And it’s easy to do. AH&LA is here to assist you in planning every step of the way. The tours are led by the property general manager, with a representative from AH&LA and the state association on hand to provide support.

Consider volunteering your property for a tour and help us share the hotel industry’s great narrative of boosting the economy and creating jobs in communities across the country. It’s great for you, our industry, and business.

About the Author
Vanessa Sinders is senior vice president of government and political affairs at AH&LA. If your hotel is interested in hosting a Heart of the House tour, please contact Madeline Lee, AH&LA’s coordinator of government affairs, at mlee@ahla.com.

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