Obama listens to travel industry gripes

Leaders from across the travel industry met with President Barack Obama today to discuss … not a bailout. It’s no secret that luxury suffers when times are tough, and for many, any form of travel is not essential. Delta is cutting capacity, and the industry as a whole is getting ready to shed more than 200,000 jobs this year.

So, what is an industry of “frivolity” worth to our economy? A whopping $740 billion in annual spending … which fuels 7.7 million American jobs.

Travel is more important to us than we may realize. Sure, it provides some recreation and allows face-to-face business meetings. But, it also keeps the goods on grocery store shelves turning over, as each travel industry employee puts food on the table.

Unlike many corners of the economic world, this group of travel executives approached the president with a solution. They believe we need to bring more international visitors to the United States (a tough proposition with the recent turn in the U.S. dollar’s fortune) and do something to stem the downturn in meetings and events.

Roger Dow, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, says, “We are pleased that President Obama recognizes the power of travel to strengthen America’s economy.” He continues, “The travel community has an ally in President Obama and we appreciate the leadership he intends to bring to increasing travel to, and within, the United States.”

Of course, no exec would give up a chance to lobby the man in the Oval Office. The travel industry pushed for the passage of the Travel Promotion Act, which would yield the first U.S. marketing campaign targeted at growing the number of international visitors. Smart idea … as the average foreign visitor drops $4,000 inside our borders per visit.

Okay, it’s kind of a bailout. But, at least it comes with a plan. The executives at the meeting are listed after the jump.

  • Roger Dow, President & CEO, U.S. Travel Association
  • Jonathan M. Tisch, Chairman and CEO, Loews Hotels; Chairman Emeritus, U.S. Travel Association
  • Jim Abrahamson, President, the Americas, IHG
  • Jim Atchison, President and COO, Busch Entertainment Corp.
  • Jeff Clarke, CEO and President, Travelport
  • Howard Frank, Vice Chairman and COO, Carnival Corporation & plc
  • Barney Harford, President and CEO, Orbitz Worldwide
  • W. Stephen Maritz, Chairman and CEO, Maritz Holdings Inc.
  • Bill Marriott, Chairman and CEO, Marriott International, Inc.
  • Jay Rasulo, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
  • Colin Reed, Chairman and CEO, Gaylord Entertainment
  • Frits van Paasschen, President, CEO and Director, Starwood Hotels and Resorts
  • Tom Williams, Chairman and CEO, Universal Parks and Resorts

Going to see Obama? No photos, please

You just can’t wait for the inauguration to happen. You need your dose of hope, change and belief now. So, you get on a plane for Chicago and navigate your way to Hyde Park. According to the NY Times, you won’t be able to take any pictures of our next president’s Greenwood Avenue home. Fortunately, there’s a bit more to do in Chicago than try to catch a glimpse of the man who will be our 44th president. Skip his place and check out the Robie House, for which Frank Lloyd Wright is responsible. Trek around 10 blocks north, and you can visit another home … belonging to Louis Farrakhan.

While in town, you can live like a future president, spending $21 on a haircut at Hyde Park Hair Salon and picking up breakfast at the Valois Cafeteria (get the scrambled eggs, hash browns and sausage and be just like the future #44!). In fact, drop in on any of these spots starting in February, and you can do what the president can’t: get what you want without crowds creating a scene.

[Via NY Times]

Gadling Take FIVE Week of Oct. 25–Oct. 31

Wow! Here it is Halloween and October is almost over. Whew! What a month.

The pace at Gadling has continued to pick up. Perhaps you’ve noticed that Gadling blogger Karen Walerond has returned. She’s our resident camera and photographer expert, so stay tuned for tips on how you can make your camera work sing.

Also, there’s yet another series to add to our other mini-series. Aaron is gracing us with a Travel Trivia quiz each Tuesday. That Aaron is one smart guy.

Hopefully, you’ve been following Gadling’s series “Catching the Travel Bug” about our experiences when we’ve caught some illness when on the road. Also, this week there were two more “Sounds of Travel” offerings. This is the series where we’re sharing the songs that have moved us when we’ve ventured from home.

This week, who hasn’t noticed the flurry of U.S. election related news? By the next time I write next week’s Gadling TAKE FIVE roundup, we should know who our next president will be. We’ve had our own musings about the candidates and some oddball details.

Yes, that’s only four, so here’s one more from one of my favorite topics, New York City. Jeremy has once again given us a blueprint for discovering the gems we may not have heard of before. I’m so heading to Roosevelt Avenue in Queens for dip into Latin American culture the next time I am in New York.

By, the way, have a wonderful Trick or Treat or party, or whatever you’re up to. Hopefully, your fall day is as gorgeous as mine is.