Travel group targets Congress with virtual town hall

WASHINGTON: The US Travel Association launched a "Virtual Travel Town Hall" encouraging people who work in the sector to ask Congressional candidates about issues that have blighted the industry in recent years.

WASHINGTON: The US Travel Association launched a "Virtual Travel Town Hall" encouraging people who work in the sector to ask Congressional candidates about issues that have blighted the industry in recent years.

Through the Power of Travel Coalition, a new website and brand platform hosting the Town Hall, the association will invite 150 candidates - particularly those in districts heavily impacted by travel issues - to submit videos or written responses to three questions that travel industry employees choose.

The association will submit the questions voted on in the Town Hall in August to participating candidates by September 13. Responses will be posted on the Coalition's Town Hall web page on October 4, one month prior to the midterm elections.

“The industry has had an onslaught of crises," said Kristy Chandler, director of communications at the travel body. "Since 2008, it's lost over 400,000 jobs. Employees are concerned about saving their jobs and want their political elected officials to listen to travel issues and take them seriously. We're doing something that's cutting edge, and we're challenging congress to respond."

She said questions might be about how candidates plan to protect and stimulate travel jobs or how the government should respond to disasters that affect travel, such as the BP oil spill.

She added that, in the past, the industry has been overlooked but that the association is gaining momentum in terms of government relations, especially given the industry is a top 10 employer in most congressional districts.

To promote the Town Hall, the organization is sending emails, factsheets, and promotional toolkits to its members, encouraging them to spread the word. Tactics also include media relations and social media promotion through Twitter, LinkedIn, and other channels.

The organization hopes to enroll 1 million travel industry employees in the mission.

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