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This year, I had the privilege of attending the AH&LA’s Legislative Action Summit (LAS), which brought together key leadership from the lodging sector to make the industry’s voice heard on Capitol Hill.

Some of the major issues tackled at the LAS were the ability to foster growth and job creation in the lodging arena, the need to have online travel companies pay their fair share of taxes from online bookings, as well as removing burdensome visa processes that keep international travelers from coming to the U.S.

These are all serious issues that have major implications on the growth of the lodging sector. It was incredibly enlightening to be in the same room as the brightest legislative affairs executives who play a major role in providing an environment for true business growth for the hospitality industry.

Not only is the hospitality industry tied to the economic growth of the nation, it is also the mainstay of many local communities around the country. By easing some restrictions for travelers coming into the country, the hospitality industry has the potential to add 1.3 million jobs in 2012.

I did have one major epiphany during the LAS, and ironically, it did not come from participating in the sessions and networking events. Each night, when I went back to my hotel (JW Marriott), I was greeted with an unprecedented level of customer service. And, when I was leaving — and had to keep my bags with the bellman because of an 8 a.m. check out – I had five Marriot employees taking care of me. From loading my luggage into my 11-year-old SUV and beyond, it was a prime example of how the lodging industry needs to continue focusing on one thing: making the guests happy.

Clearly, attending the LAS was an illuminating experience for me, but I was really reminded that customer service is the cornerstone of business success by the JW Marriott employees themselves. When that belief trickles down to all staff positions, hoteliers can’t help but attract and retain more guests!


Posted by: Diann Turner, Director, Business Development, NetLink Resource Group