Monday February 6th, 2012 - 5:07PM
The 11th annual ALIS conference returned to its Los Angeles roots late last month after a three-year hiatus in San Diego. The event’s new home is the JW Marriott and Nokia Theatre at LA Live, a venue that provided a much grander stage, both literally and figuratively, for the year’s first major industry gathering.
Naturally, there was plenty of discussion about what worked and what didn’t and I think the consensus was, with the exception of a little overzealous security, the conference went smoothly. However, new location notwithstanding, one thing that clearly has not changed from previous ALIS conferences, and years, is the vitriol this industry has for President Barack Obama. On second thought it has changed. It has intensified.
As always, the conference invites a lot of debate about the current industry conditions as well as prospects for the future, and opinions are always varied depending on whom you ask. But when Obama’s name comes up, there is an overwhelming consensus: He needs to go.
To be fair, this is a republican- dominated industry with a strong leaning to the right as a starting point. But this sentiment was clearly more than that. Forget about my many conversations with everyone from brand executives to owners who voiced their displeasure. On stage, alone, several high-profile speakers singled out Obama.
For example, Donald Trump— in the few moments when he wasn’t touting the greatness of the Trump brand or pandering to developers about his ability to get zoning—told the audience that to promote travel and tourism, which was met with the following response: “I can’t promote one industry.” I have to take issue with this as being exactly the kind of scared, politically correct approach that this country needs to get away from.
We need a leader who will stand up and say what needs to be said. If the potential is there to boost an industry with a few carefully chosen words, and help at least one aspect of the struggling economy, why wouldn’t he do that? Just who exactly would be the losers in such a scenario?
I guess other industries could accuse him of playing favorites. Couldn’t he just chalk it up to evening the score after his comments about Las Vegas a few years back? But I guess that would mean acknowledging a mistake. I’m not suggesting that a few words from Obama would turn the industry around, but it’s the shortsighted, self-serving approach that is bothersome. The AH&LA and others, including groups like AAHOA, have done much to try to give the industry a voice but clearly there is more work to be done.
It’s hard to predict what the mood of the industry will be next week, much less at the next event. Nevertheless, I will go out on a limb and say I can already predict the mood at next year’s ALIS if President Obama is re-elected—and it will be anything but positive.