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Politics Do Matter to Your Industry and Career

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Forward By J. Thompson
Online Career Tips Staff

Whether you’re of the millennial or baby boomer generation, the viability of your career and the legacy of your industry is your responsibility to guide. Recently, I read a compelling article penned by a colleague, Omari Head, Manager of Corporate and Strategic Relationships for Hospitality and Tourism at American Public University System. In the article, Omari shares three key reasons why it’s critically important that if you truly believe in your career, that you should also believe in making your voice heard amongst your elected officials. Even if you’re young or just starting out, it’s even more important to start influencing change now so that when you become a leader, you’re taking over an industry you helped frame. That’s sage advice from a strong millennial voice and is applicable to any industry. Best of all, getting involved politically is easier than you may think.

From the Lobby to Lobbyist: Amplify Your Voice

By Omari Head
American Public University System 

Two years ago I spoke with a now state legislator for Illinois. He was a young man who conveyed the belief that power resides in more than just the vote. He shared this quote by Pericles: “Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.” That next year I made it my New Year’s resolution to get more politically involved. I would like to extend the same charge to millennials this year. Last year there were various legislative matters that affected our industry. There was robust conversation around the topics of pool lifts, soda taxes and per diem rates just to name a few. We own a voice that is unique. It’s young, diverse, passionate and valued. There are many reasons to get involved, but I’d like to share three that I believe are most important:

1. Know How Policy Works 

Knowing is half the battle. To see policy at work is an eye-opening experience.  However, it’s less complicated and intimidating than you may think. It’s about speaking to your representative—someone you elected and pay to listen to your concerns and to represent you! As customer service professionals, we are used to hearing and solving our clients’ concerns. Representatives hear from various constituents about a myriad of issues. They cannot be experts on all of the issues. You have the ability to use your passion and knowledge to educate them on these matters that impact you and your industry. Remember, our industry is the third largest employer in the nation, which means potential votes. They will listen. The question is will you let your voice be heard?

2. Do Your Part 

It’s our responsibility to amplify our voices and to understand and guide the policies affecting our industry. I have participated in the AH&LA Legislative Action Summit for the past two years. This is when AH&LA calls upon owners, operators and students to congregate in Washington D.C. to learn about and to address critical industry issues. Together, we visit Capitol Hill and meet directly with our elected representatives from the House and the Senate.

3. It Affects Your Career

The issues noted above affect your livelihood. Although you may be a front desk agent, asset manager or a housekeeping supervisor, this is relevant to you. For instance, had the per diem policy changed, it could have drastically hurt the industry. It would have impacted ADR and crippled RevPar, leading to reduced profits. This in turn means cost cutting, and the greatest cost to operating is labor.

As a hotelier, I have committed myself to these principles and to exercising my freedoms. I believe that participating in events like the summit are ultimately what separates hospitality employees from hospitality professionals. I hope to see my fellow millenials in force at various legislate events. We’ll be inheriting industry leadership roles and it’s best to be educated now as we prepare to shape the industry we’ll soon be leading.

J. Thompson is the Vice President of the Content team at American Public University. He earned an M.F.A in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles and performed his undergraduate studies in English literature, political science and business management between the University of New Mexico and East Carolina University. His career insights draw upon experience as a communications vice president supporting learning management, applicant tracking, and talent and leadership development for Bank of America and other Fortune 500 firms.

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