Washington, D.C. | Senior executives from 18 of North America’s largest hotel companies joined staff from the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA) for a two-day series of meetings with officials from the Bush Administration and key members of the United States Senate. Locations for the visits included the White House, the offices of the Senate Majority Leader in the Capitol, the Federal Reserve, and the Departments of Commerce and Labor.
The executives briefed Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senator Byron Dorgan (D-N.Dak.), Federal Reserve Board Governor Kevin Warsh, and staff policy advisors from the White House on several current legislative and policy initiatives of concern to the lodging industry, including an extension of the terrorism risk insurance (TRIA) program, relief for employers who utilize the H-2B temporary seasonal worker program, the potential revival of “card check” legislation in the coming year, and tourism and travel policies.
“The decisions made in Washington have a significant impact our bottom line,” said Tom Corcoran, chairman of FelCor Lodging Trust Incorporated and incoming chairman of AH&LA. “While the service side of our industry is certainly important, even more important is the focus we feel must be placed on the economics of the industry. We strongly encourage the Administration and members of both houses of Congress to keep in mind that the legislative initiatives they propose could significantly impact the operations and fiscal stability of the lodging industry.”
“The tremendous turnout of executives at these meetings is a strong indication of the interest being generated in the lodging community by these legislative initiatives,” according to Marlene Colucci, AH&LA executive vice president for public policy. “The senior executives were successfully able to provide the leadership in the Senate and key members of the Administration with a more complete picture of how the policies they develop affect the lodging industry.”
In addition to Corcoran, lodging executives who attended the meetings included Robert Alter, executive chairman of Sunstone Hotel Investors, Inc.; Geoff Ballotti, president of North America of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc.; Doug Collins, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of America’s Best Franchising; Michael Dickens, president of Hospitality Partners LLC; Douglas Dreher, president of The Hotel Group; Kevin Hanley, president and chief executive officer of Sunburst Hospitality; Matt Hart, president and chief operating officer of Hilton Hotels Corporation; Hervé Houdré, regional vice president of The Willard Intercontinental; Yvonne La Penotiere, president, the Americas of Carlson Hotels Worldwide; Moez Mangalji, principal of Westmont Hospitality Group; J. W. Marriott, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Marriott International; Kirby Payne, 2002 chair of the AH&LA & president of HVS/American Hospitality Management Company; Gerald Petitt, president and chief executive officer of Creative Hotel Associates; Steven Rudnitsky, president and chief executive officer of Wyndham Hotel Group; Richard Smith, president and chief executive officer of FelCor Lodging Trust Incorporated; Paul Whettsell, chairman of Interstate Hotels and Resorts; and Mark Zipperer, president and chief executive officer of Pride Hospitality.