With a wild primary season showing just how volatile the national mood appears, we thought we would pull out our crystal ball and see how well the hotel industry can read the electoral landscape. Before the election, we polled hoteliers from around the country to see not only how they envisioned the races playing out—but what priorities Congress would tackle in the new session. Here is a sampling of the responses we received:
Which party will control the House of Representatives and Senate after the election?
Mark Carrier (Senior Vice President, B.F. Saul Company, Hotel Division): I believe that the Republicans will take back the House and the Senate.
Christine O’Donnell (President, Colorado Hotel & Lodging Association): I think there may still be a slight Democratic majority, but I see it much closer to 50/50.
Michael Johnson (Executive Director, Utah Hotel & Lodging Association): The GOP will control the House and the Democrats will control the Senate–but only by 2 seats.
Bob Alter (Chairman, Sunstone Hotel Investors Inc.): Republicans will control the House and Democrats will control the Senate.
Doug Collins (Chairman & CEO, America's Best Franchising): The Democrats will keep control of the
House and Senate.
What issues do you think will decide the election?
David Kong (President & CEO, Best Western International): The economy and the resulting uncertainty.
Bob Alter: Jobs and government spending.
Michael Johnson: Jobs and the economy, and jobs, oh and did I mention jobs?
What should the number one issue be when Congress comes back into session?
Christine O’Donnell: I think it should be about creating an environment that stimulates jobs—which is easier said than done. There are companies right now that want to expand, but can’t because they are limited by capital.
Mark Carrier: They should focus squarely on building confidence in the direction of the country. Unemployment will not come down until businesses regain confidence in the stability of the country and have a reasonable assurance of policies.
David Kong: The economy.
How do you see the new Congress affecting the hospitality industry?
Bob Alter: Growing the economy through less government will help the hospitality industry.
Christine O’Donnell: Travel and tourism creates jobs and is a source of tax revenue at every level of government. It must be supported—the Travel Promotion Act must be pushed as long as it will yield a return on investment.
David Kong: If they instill confidence in business, our industry will benefit.
How can Congress help the hotel industry—any specific legislation?
Mark Carrier: Certainly, a sense of predictability is needed to encourage business reinvestment and for our citizens to feel comfortable traveling. Our legislative agenda should truly be focused on those items that will rebuild confidence and reduce the growth of government and union power. We also need to defend aggressively against the Online Travel Agents.
David Kong: Address visa and entry hurdles that are hurting international arrivals.
Christine O’Donnell: Companies need to pay their fair share of taxes – including online travel companies. Put this issue to bed. Pay the tax for any and all markup on rooms bought from the property and sold to the consumer. It is a very simple math equation.
Describe the tea party in five words or less.
Bob Alter: Fiscal responsibility and less taxes.
Mark Carrier: The awakening of conservative America!
Doug Collins: Misinformed, misguided, and unrealistic.
Michael Johnson: Incredibly active and upset conservatives.
David Kong: Grassroots, conservative, powerful, fed-up.
Christine O’Donnell: Divisive, ego-driven, incompetent, antagonistic, harmful.
In regards to Washington, what keeps you up at night?
Doug Collins: The standstill due to political agendas.
Michael Johnson: Sides not willing to be pragmatic in the face of tough criticism from their parties or their base of supporters. Tough issues go unresolved because people are afraid to do what is best for the country.
David Kong: Unreasonable and biased legislative and regulatory measures.
Bob Alter: The Employee Free Choice Act and more regulation.
Who do you expect to see on the top of the Republican Presidential ticket in 2012?
David Kong: If the economy continues to struggle, Mitt Romney.
Christine O’Donnell: Sarah Palin.
Doug Collins: Mitt Romney.
Mark Carrier: I think it will be Bob McDonnell from Virginia.
Michael Johnson: Mitt Romney, although that will not become apparent until Palin and Huckabee have meltdowns and Pawlenty comes across as too inexperienced on the campaign trail and Pence is viewed as too narrow in scope.