Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi Joins AHLA’s The Forum Speaker Series to Discuss COVID-19 Relief

Nancy Pelosi, Chip Rogers, and Pat Pacious on AHLA's The Forum Speaker Series.

On Wednesday afternoon, the latest edition of the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s The Forum Speaker Series featured AHLA president and CEO Chip Rogers, Choice Hotels president and CEO Pat Pacious, and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. The three discussed COVID-19’s effect on the hotel industry and the economy, including potential relief packages, pain points for the industry, and ongoing recovery efforts. The conversation kept coming back to one point: For the hotel industry to reach its eventual recovery period, Pelosi said, “stopping the virus is the most important thing.”

“I firmly believe that in order to open the economy, open our schools in a safe way, we have to bring down the rate of the infection of the virus; it’s absolutely essential,” Pelosi elaborated. She continued, “We are a consumer economy. The more people have the confidence to spend, the better and sooner our revival, but it’s hard if we do not curtail the growth of this virus.”

Rogers, Pacious, and Pelosi discussed the hotel industry’s substantial influence on the economy, and how consumers are currently saving instead of spending because of uncertainty around job stability and the future. Pelosi added that fewer people have the financial ability to travel, which is leading to more hotel closures. Pacious mentioned the difficulty of reopening a hotel once it has closed and that for many of Choice’s hoteliers, “This is not their investment, their hotel; this is their livelihood.”

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That livelihood now includes hoteliers opening their doors to essential workers and first responders who are afraid of spreading the virus to family members. As part of AHLA’s Hospitality for Hope initiative, 17,000 hotels have signed up to assist those affected by the pandemic. Pelosi said, “It’s a beautiful story of America, how this has brought out the humanity… 17,000 hotels opened their arms to the needy, and that is so important.”

“Whether you’re leading a company, or leading a hotel, or leading your family, people play multiple roles in life,” Pacious said. He continued, “My focus has been on driving fear out of the equation. The virus is here, that’s true. We’re learning to live with it. We learn more about it every day. But as leaders, whether we’re leading our hotels or leading our companies, we’ve got to set a path forward.”

Moving forward, Rogers added that hoteliers cannot lose sight of the humanity of the industry. “It’s similar times like this, difficult times, where we really begin to understand what is the most important, not just in our business life, but in our personal lives and the relationships that we have.”

And Pacious said the silver lining of the pandemic is “the resiliency of our small business owners.” In the future when looking back on COVID-19, Pacious said that the industry will “look at how we all banded together to keep the industry afloat and keep as many of our hotels open. Ultimately, build back the recovery and win back our business that left us as a result of COVID-19.”


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