Unless you've been living in a cave, you know this is a historic day: the day Barack Obama becomes the first African-American president of the U.S. But what will his presidency mean for the hotel industry?
Some bloggers and other deep thinkers seem to believe his administration will usher in a new era in which Washington finally understands the issues facing the tourism industry and, more importantly, enacts legislation to help our cause, especially in areas like tourism promotion, visa waiver and immigration reform. I don't think it's going to happen and, in fact, if Obama makes good on one of his campaign promises--passage of the Employee Free Choice Act--the new administration may prove to be detrimental to your business.
But in reality, these are side issues. The most important accomplishment Obama and his team can make for hospitality-and for the entire country--is to straighten out the economy and more critically, the capital markets. Lodging is a real estate business that thrives on development and the capital that fuels it. In addition, many hotel owners are facing loans coming due this year or next, and a lot of them may be pushed into foreclosure unless a steady, reliable and reasonably priced flow of money returns to the marketplace.
I wish President Obama good luck and well wishes as he takes office. I hope he has the wisdom, patience and political skill to put the country back on solid footing.