The end (of the year) is near

It’s that time of year: The air crisper, the days shorter and the Washington Redskins no doubt plotting to break their fan base’s collective heart. Ahhh, December.

2016 should forever be known for one singular event: The Chicago Cubs capturing their first World Series since the Roosevelt (Theodore) administration. However, and I’ll borrow a line from “Wayne’s World” (millennials, Google Mike Myers and Dana Carvey), “Sha, right; as if!”

The election, Donald v. Hillary, that’s what 2016 will be remembered for. Some have called it the nadir of civility (no matter whom you voted for); others arguing it’s the change this country needed, boiling it down into a four-letter Twitter hashtag: #MAGA.

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Post COVID-19: The New Guest Experience

Join Hotel Management’s Elaine Simon for our latest roundtable—Post COVID-19: The New Guest Experience. The experts on the panel will share how to inspire guest confidence that hotels are safe and clean and how to win back guest business.

Fifteen years from now, when political science classes study the election, what will be recalled is the vehement passion displayed by both parties. I know this firsthand. Earlier this year, I expressed disappointment with something now President-elect Donald Trump said of Mexicans. That riled a couple of readers, who made sure to let me know of their indignation. (Others conveyed support.)

That’s OK: you can’t expect everyone to agree with you—it’s what makes America great. And my hope is that when Donald Trump reiterates his battle cry—Make America Great Again—he doesn’t lose sight of the things that already and still do make this country great.

What, then, does the presidency have to do with a hospitality column? Everything. Travel and hospitality are invariably linked to government and politics. One slight variation in policy can have a rippling effect. For instance, an idea Donald Trump floated earlier this year to impose a 45-percent tariff on Chinese imports would have a harrowing impact on supply chains.

President-elect Trump has taken a hard line stance on imports from China.

Still, many people’s politics are informed by their businesses. Like any industry, hospitality likes regulation as a protective safeguard (see Airbnb), but abhors it when it interferes with its own profit-making operations.

Steve Belmonte, CEO of Vimana Franchise Systems, is in Trump’s corner. “When you start tearing down some of these regulations that don’t make sense, [it] points to a positive year ahead,” he said. “As the dust settles, people will see there is a lot of good coming from this.”

Chip Rogers, the CEO of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, a nonpartisan group that anecdotally swings Republican, is energized by a Trump presidency. “President-elect Trump has pledged to reduce regulation and lower taxes; everyone concerned with advancing free markets should share our excitement,” Rogers said. “Trump understands the delicate balance between organized labor and private-sector businesses. This understanding from the executive branch has been missed for quite some time.”

Still, inconsistencies exist in Trump’s plans for items like healthcare (he’s publicized disdain for Obamacare, but what’s his alternative?) and the minimum wage. “We offer healthcare to all of our associates, and I’m hoping healthcare in the U.S. improves under Trump, but I don’t know,” said Gerry Chase, president & COO of New Castle Hotels & Resorts. “Our first try with Obamacare changed a lot of how we do business and health, and when you make big changes, it could be dramatic.”

Cindy Nelson, chair of hospitality and partner at law firm Gardere Wynne Sewell, was as flummoxed. “Until he decides how and when Obamacare is going to change, I don’t know how he will do it,” she said. “On the topic of wages, we aren’t sure where Trump stands exactly.”

In this new reality, no one is quite sure of anything.

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