Jonathan Tisch: Travel is essential to a healthy, functioning society

In his opening remarks, Jonathan Tisch, chairman/CEO, Loews Hotels & Co., called on travel and hospitality leaders at the 44th annual NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference at the New York Marriott Marquis to position travel as both an economic driver and an essential component of a healthy, functioning society in a post-pandemic world.

“Travel is essential to the way we work and live—because it has tremendous potential to connect us—to each other, to ideas and to opportunity,” he said. “It brings people together, broadens perspectives and spurs innovation and progress.”

Tisch stressed that, at a time when people and organizations are scrutinizing their budgets, the hospitality industry must demonstrate that travel has value beyond the economic.

He first described travel’s ability to connect people. He enumerated the challenges facing society in the wake of the pandemic, including division and loneliness, casting travel as an antidote to isolation. He stated, “At a time of division, polarization and anxiety, we have to remind decision-makers that travel is not a distraction from society’s most pressing problems—it’s a solution to them.”

Tisch went on to explain how travel can connect people to ideas. As business travel has yet to fully recover and workers quickly tire of their home offices, he urged leaders to embrace an emerging reality.

“The lines between work, travel and leisure have permanently blurred,” he said. “Workers who don’t have an office or a water cooler anymore can find one in Miami, or Philadelphia or Asheville…that presents a unique chance for us as an industry to reimagine our offerings, to make them attractive to every kind of business traveler.”

Tisch then implored leaders to focus on creating more opportunities for advancement within hospitality. As the industry faces historic labor shortages, he reminded conference attendees of the benefits it can provide to workers, including inclusive workplaces, competitive compensation packages and professional development opportunities.

“There’s a reason we’re the first stop for many immigrants and others pursuing the American Dream,” he said. “To climb the ranks, you don’t need to enter with hyper-specialized skills or credentials. You need a good attitude, a willingness to work hard and a desire to make people feel welcome.”

Finally, Tisch issued a rallying cry to leaders throughout the travel ecosystem to do their part to make travel essential. He concluded, “We can start right here, right now.”