100 Years of Advancing Destinations

Carrying Travel Advocacy Forward on the Home Front: An Interview with U.S. Travel's Michael Jacobson

Author: Joy Lin
Posted: March 02, 2015
Blog Topics Covered:

Destination Marketing Organizations occupy the unique place of acting as the connective tissue between members of your communities, along with visitors from beyond. One key aspect of our work in travel and tourism is the opportunity to advocate for the continued success of this industry.

Advocacy works on many levels, whether on Capitol Hill or in your own back yard, so we're taking time with Michael Jacobson, U.S. Travel's Director of Grassroots Advocacy and Political Action Committee, for part 2 of how to share some effective ways of lobbying for our cause after Destination Capitol Hill. Read Part 1.

Many Destinations would love to participate in Destination Capitol Hill but simply don’t have the budget to travel to Washington. How can they still support your efforts?

We certainly understand that budgets dramatically vary among destinations nationwide. For that reason, we’ve made it simple to still support our efforts during our fly-in, even if you cannot attend Destination Capitol Hill in-person.

We will once again hold a “virtual fly-in” during Destinations Week in Washington (March 23-27) that allows folks back home to email their Members of Congress in only a few clicks. You’ll still have the ability to customize your note in roder to personalize it and include your local data.

These messages will help lay the groundwork and supplement the in-person meetings that your colleagues will hold on your behalf with the same Congressional offices that week. More information will be posted on March 23 on travelcoalition.org.

What actions DMOs can take on the homefront to make sure we keep the momentum going?

It is important to continue building a relationship with Congressional offices even after Destination Capitol Hill attendees head home. Regular communication with Hill offices is key to becoming a trusted advisor to Members of Congress and their staff. Each time your destination releases new data or a new marketing campaign, don’t forget to send a quick note to your local Congressional staff to update them. It can also mean organizing an event back in your community that brings together travel industry professionals that may not have been able to attend Destination Capitol Hill, and connecting them with your Member of Congress at an industry roundtable.

We've created a toolkit as part of our Travel Talks campaign to help in planning these type of events.

Do you have any examples of how these conversations have helped us achieve our travel goals in the past?

In 2014, the U.S. Travel Association held an event in Michigan with Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Fred Upton. After the event, he spoke on the House floor on the importance of tourism to the economy and the necessity to pass Brand USA’s reauthorization, which he had jurisdiction over. At the end of the day, DMOs have a important story to tell about travel’s role in the community and the economy. Each one has the power to meet face to face with policymakers and urge them to craft common-sense, bipartisan solutions to grow the travel industry and local economies across the U.S.

Thanks to Michael Jacobson for joining us on this important topic. I'll let him have the last word.

"The travel industry is lucky to be unified in our common legislative goals. The partnership between U.S. Travel and DMAI helps bring hundreds of tourism leaders to Washington each year for a coordinated effort to educate Congress about our issues and develop relationships with those who are responsible for affecting our livelihoods on a daily basis. Our industry has enjoyed landmark successes in recent year, including Brand USA’s reauthorization, and it is because of events like DCH that we can see accomplishments of this magnitude. It’s important we continue this work in order to continue to boost our relevance and stature here in Washington."

We look forward to seeing DMOs well represented on the Hill in March. You can still sign up to get on the waitlist and join us in our united advocacy efforts in Washington and make a bigger splash in your own communities back home.