Ten top hotel companies and the U.S. Travel Association banded together to buy advertising space on two prominent news Web sites read by U.S. legislators in an attempt to get their message out about the repercussions of negative rhetoric for the meetings and events industry.
Following media reports of Northern Trust’s entertainment-laden sponsorship of a PGA golf event, which prompted disapproving remarks and promises of stricter legislation from Sen. John Kerry (D.-Mass.) and Rep. Barney Frank (D.-Mass.), among others, the ads warned lawmakers about the potential repercussions of their oratory. “Want to lose one million more jobs? Just keep talking,” read the headline of the advertisement, which ran on February 26 on The Politico's Web site, politico.com, and Roll Call's Web site, rollcall.com.
“All Americans are angry at the recent revelations of bad judgment and excess by some corporate leaders—especially when the result is a taxpayer-funded clean up. However, targeting business meetings and events is the wrong answer,” said the ad. “With their political rhetoric and short-sighted legislation Congress is sending a message to TARP recipients and every other business that Congress doesn’t want those meetings to happen. The results are predictable. Thousands of companies—not just TARP recipients—are canceling their meetings out of fear.”
The ad went on to talk about the economic value of meetings (“One out of every 8 jobs in this country is related to travel and tourism.”) and to urge the adoption of the model meeting policies for companies using taxpayer dollars that have been drawn up by U.S. Travel and a coalition of industry associations.
The signatories on the ad were Jay Witzel, Carlson Hotels Worldwide; Jay Rasulo, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts; Thomas W. Storey, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts; Christopher Nassetta, Hilton Hotels Corp.; Mark S. Hoplamazian, Global Hyatt Corp.; James R. Abrahamson, InterContinental Hotels Group; Jonathan Tisch, Loews Hotels; J.W. Marriott Jr., Marriott International Inc.; Fritz van Paasschen, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc.; and Stephen P. Holmes, Wyndham Worldwide.
While the advertisement ran for only one day on each of the political news sites, Christy Chandler, director of communications at U.S. Travel, says there will be much more advertising to come on this issue.