Getting a seat at the table in DC

By Alex Kirkwood

The pandemic challenged CEOs in all industries to get creative. As one of 16 recent Vistage Impact Award Recipients honored for pivoting and succeeding during COVID, I had the opportunity to join my fellow award winners to participate in a policy briefing session with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The meeting was designed to share the challenges affecting small and medium-sized businesses post-pandemic with Washington, DC lawmakers. As the only hotelier at the event, I had the opportunity to discuss the policies that directly impact our industry.

In this collaborative session, one challenge that was a pain point for CEOs, regardless of the industry, was staffing shortages and recruiting post-pandemic. I shared with the group some of the creative recruitment tactics we’ve implemented, including an integrated referral program where we use our existing team as ambassadors for future hires, the creation of compelling content to entice prospective candidates to join our team, and programs designed to help retain our top talent.

Another big challenge for hoteliers is the desire for employees to work from home, which isn’t feasible for many positions in hospitality. At Kirkwood Collection, we’ve tried to meet this desire by offering a “work-from-hotel” option where our corporate team can integrate and work with our onsite teams at the properties, giving them choices in their environment that still meet the business realities of the industry.

Another hot topic of discussion was the Chips Act and how that relates to supply chain and cyber-security. In the hotel industry, state-side production of core technologies will greatly relieve operators and their CTOs as cyber breaches become more common. We deploy 100% cloud-based systems with U.S. or Canadian data centers.
While I can’t comment on specific actions the Chamber may take due to this meeting, however, they were impressively committed to providing assistance, insights and ideas to growing enterprises.

The key to impact in Washington is to tell your story, as it will cut through the mountains of big data they have available and create a personal connection to legislation and its impacts.

Alex Kirkwood is CEO/founder of Kirkwood Collection.

This is a contributed piece to Hotel Business, authored by an industry professional. The thoughts expressed are the perspective of the bylined individual.