The travel business is doubling down its political lobbying this election season. With a chance to affect change no matter who takes the Oval Office come November, U.S. Travel Association and the American Hotel & Lodging Association are planning to get the travel industry’s message out at the upcoming Democratic and Republican National Conventions.
Travel Lobbies Planning 'In Your Face' Politico Convention Strategy
The U.S. Travel Association and the American Hotel & Lodging Association are planning an aggressive effort to promote the importance of travel business during the upcoming nominating conventions.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
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It’s a perfect confluence of opportunity, timing and messaging for the travel and hotel industries. After all, convention delegates are utilizing the nation’s skies, rails and roads to get to their events and then staying in hotels while attending the events. So there is no better time than right now to tether the importance of travel to the overall health of the United States economy.
“When you think about the context, this is about leaders from across the country that are the most politically active who are all going to be at one of these conventions,” said Marlene Colucci, Vice President, Public Policy with the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA). “This is our chance to reinforce the message that hospitality is what makes these events happen and its hospitality that gives these cities the ability to show a welcoming face.”
The AHLA, along with select partners such as The Hill, The U.S. Travel Association and local CVBs, is planning to host similar events at both the Republican and Democrat conventions, which are being held August 27-30 in Tampa Bay FL and September 3-6 in Charlotte, NC, respectively.
“We are spending the same amount on both events and hosting mirror events in both places. In the larger political context we are have to make sure we have senior execs in both camps. It is important as an industry that we have bipartisan issues so we need to cover both campaigns on a bipartisan basis,” said Colucci.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) is taking more of an ‘in your face’ approach with its efforts designed to remind delegates at both conventions about the importance of travel and how critical it is to getting business done and the reliance of the American economy on this massive jobs and tax generator.
“We are going to embrace an aggressive and muscular presence using a nontraditional approach to leverage the assets of the industry” said Blain Rethmeier, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs, U.S. Travel Association, during a conference call yesterday.
Rethmeier said they plan to utilize all touch points as delegates enter into Charlotte and Tampa. Leveraging the ‘Vote Travel’ brand the USTA created for a bus tour and social media presence earlier this year, all plans center on tying together the conferences with the varied aspects of the travel industry.
For example, all Marriott hotels will give delegates room keycards emblazoned with the Vote Travel logo which they will see every time they enter their hotel room. The USTA is also giving all taxi cab drivers ‘Vote Travel’ air fresheners and conventioneers heading to events will be greeted by bus drivers wearing logoed pins.
Hertz and Enterprise car rental agencies will be giving renters a logoed digital screen cleaner as another reminder about the varied facets of the travel business. They are also scheduling back-of-house hotel tours with policy makers and delegates so they can see firsthand what it takes to make these conventions possible. And for good measure street teams will be handing out t-shirts and ‘squishy buses’ with the Vote Travel logo.
“This is something only our industry would be able to do and we are happy to have that partnership,” said Rethmeier. “We want to reinforce that the travel industry makes conventions and meetings possible. Without this industry having vibrant presence in these communities, events like those would not be possible.
The USTA is also running a Twitter trivia contest promoting the economic impact of the travel industry. The questions will drive people to the votetravel.com website and utilize hash tags such as #votetravel, #RNC2012 and #DNC2012. The winner will receive a trip to Las Vegas, which includes a stay at an MGM Resorts property, tickets to a Cirque Du Soleil show, $300 food credit and a $1,000 airline reimbursement.
The AHLA – in conjunction with The Hill, a Capitol Hill news organization – will also stream and record interviews with elected officials and industry insiders addressing the importance of travel and hospitality to the local and national economy.
Interviews include staunch travel industry supporters such as as Senior Minnesota Senator Amy Jean Klobuchar (D), U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (D- MO) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued as well as AHLA Chairwoman Nancy Johnson (EVP/Chief Development Officer at Carlson Companies) and more.
Videos will go out to all Hill clients, which is comprised of members of Congress, their staff, all convention attendees, local and national press. “This is a much broader audience of people that could not attend the convention,” said Colucci.