In Ted Talk style, Tisch touts tourism
In Ted Talk style, Tisch touts tourism
08 JUNE 2017 7:11 AM

I would insert “Trump” into that alliterative headline, but this blog is about a truly nonpartisan call to action for hoteliers. 

It’s “NYU week” at Hotel News Now, which means a whole batch of us are in New York covering the annual NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference. I’ve been doing this for more than 10 years; I know a lot of you have been doing this for a whole lot longer, and after a certain point, it can feel like we’ve heard and seen it all before.

But this year, for the first time in I don’t know how long, I heard a speech at this conference that really and truly resonated, and it came from conference chairman Jonathan Tisch, chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels and all-around veteran of All Things New York City (and hotel industry, too, to a large extent).

Tisch opened the conference with a true call to action for the hotel industry to unite in supporting pro-travel policies and working to flip around those that restrict tourism practices here. And in a sea of mostly Republican-leaning executives, he spoke in a way that addressed the issue from a non-partisan perspective and was, in a word, unifying.

It was simple, to the point and covered all the bases of travel, from the so-called travel ban’s impact, to infrastructure spending on airports to the defunding of Brand USA. It dominated conversations for the first day of the conference. And Tisch’s words resonated in a way that sometimes the usual government regulatory updates we’re all used to hearing simply don’t. In other words, this was a Ted Talk for the travel industry.

Extra interesting is that this topic came up around the same time that we saw reporting about data on the impact of travel ban talks on U.S. tourism. You can read about that here in The Los Angeles Times, and just be mindful that it’s Foursquare data, posted in a blog by CEO Jeff Glueck.

Somewhat contradicting that Foursquare data this week was a new report by the U.S. Travel Association, which shows that international travel to the U.S. grew by about 4% in April compared with last year, beating expectations that were based on fears that the travel ban proposals would cause a decline.

It’s important to note at this point that most of the data around these issues is small and anecdotal—in a few months, U.S. Department of Commerce data should be available to substantiate these ideas, or maybe not. But what Tisch appealed to in his speech was the uncertainty that these issues spark in people traveling, who don’t need much to choose a different destination.

Yes, I wrote down quotables from the speech. Yes, lots of people Tweeted about this. But what I want to do here is point you to his full remarks, to read for yourself. No matter your political leanings, I think you’ll find interesting anecdotes and data in here, and new considerations to think about.

Read it and let me know what you think. Drop a comment below, email me at or find me on Twitter @HNN_Steph.

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