On Nov. 8, Americans did what neither pollsters nor pundits predicted they would do: They elected Donald J. Trump to be the 45th president of the United States. Some Americans rejoiced at the news. Others recoiled from it. As a meeting professional, you may have felt torn between the two. On the one hand, Trump is a hospitality veteran who is likely to enact pro-business policies that benefit the meetings industry. On the other hand, his poor reception by the international community could have economic consequences that harm it. To put its finger on the industry's pulse, Successful Meetings asked several industry leaders, all of them included in our 25 Most Influential People of 2016: What will a Trump presidency mean for meetings and events?
Michael Dominguez, Senior Vice President and Chief Sales Officer, MGM Resorts International, and Executive Committee Member, U.S. Travel Association:
"We are encouraged with the fact that President-Elect Trump understands the industry, as he has a luxury hotel company that depends on travel. He has stressed a focus on infrastructure investment, which would include the modernization of our airports. This has been a continued focus of our industry as we prepare for record international visitors over the next decade. Also, knowing that jobs and trade has been a focus of his platform, and that international travel is the No. 2 U.S. export representing over 10 percent of all exports and one of the largest creators of jobs, our industry is well positioned to benefit due to our strength."
Nan Marchand Beauvois, Vice President, National Councils and General Manager of the Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations (ESTO), the U.S. Travel Association:
"The meetings industry is all about bringing people together and we encourage the president-elect, as well as incoming members of Congress, to govern with a sense of hospitality and openness. This could have a positive impact not only on our industry, but on businesses and communities across the U.S. Mr. Trump knows very well the value that meetings, conferences, conventions, incentive travel, trade shows, and exhibitions bring to our country. As a businessman with deep roots in the hospitality industry, he understands that face-to-face is a critical factor for business success, and has noted that it's helped to grow his brand, build relationships, and generate new ideas. Face-to-face is also an engine for economic stability and growth, generating billions of dollars in revenue and hundreds of thousands of jobs."
Carina Bauer, CEO, IMEX Group:
"From a meetings industry perspective, it's important for the industry to educate and lobby any new administration regarding the importance of the sector. One would hope that given Trump's business background he would already have a grasp of the value of meetings and events for the U.S. economy and be well disposed towards the industry. Ultimately the success of the industry will also rely upon the wider health of the economy. Good economic growth usually leads to buoyant meetings, events, and incentive travel business (both internal and outbound) and we hope that the new Trump administration will enact policies which are generally to the benefit of business. On a more cautious note, however, much of the rhetoric of the campaign is concerning in terms of the U.S.'s reputation abroad and I hope that the administration will consider such rhetoric much more carefully now that they are preparing for office. I would also hope that the advances that have been made over the past few years with regards to ESTAs and the trusted traveler programs are continued. It's important that the U.S. continues to be perceived as an open and welcoming country to visitors from abroad."
Don Welsh, President and CEO, Destination Marketing Association International:
"I think it's going to be positive. I spent a lot of my years with Westin Hotels, and I had responsibility for the Plaza back in the 1980s when Mr. Trump owned the hotel and Westin Hotels was the marketing arm for him. Having seen what he did in the hotel business many, many years ago --and knowing that his hotel's brand around the world is highly respected both in the corporate meetings sector and, of course, by business and leisure travelers -- I'm very encouraged. He knows the importance that all travelers have on a city, and I think he knows exceptionally well the importance of meetings and conventions both to cities and to hotels. President Obama was very supportive of our industry, and we're very hopeful that President-Elect Trump will be the same. And maybe even help us take things to the next level."
Brian Stevens, CEO, ConferenceDirect, and Chair-Elect of International Board of Directors, Meeting Professionals International:
"If Donald Trump owns anything, he owns hotels. Because the guy is so business-minded, he is going to protect hotels over everything else. He doesn't own an airline anymore. He doesn't own a hospital. He owns hotels. So I think he's going to look after hotels' best interests in every way. Let's say someone is proposing a moratorium on government spending on travel. He's not going to support that. In fact, if we go into a recession, you could imagine him creating a stimulus where food and beverage for a corporate meeting is 100 percent tax deductible instead of only 50 percent. The guy is bold enough and self-interested enough that he's not going to harm his own business."