Roger Dow, 74
President and CEO, U.S. Travel Association, Washington, D.C.
What I do:
I advocate for the travel industry and its workers every day. Along with my team, I regularly meet with executive branch and congressional leaders to advance policies that grow travel to and within the U.S.
How I got here:
I learned the ropes working a multitude of jobs within Marriott International, and advanced through the ranks to senior vice president of global and field sales, where I led its 10,000-person worldwide sales team. After 34 years, and creating the hotel industry’s first-ever loyalty program, Marriott Rewards, I was looking for a new challenge and I took over the U.S. Travel Association in 2005.
My greatest career accomplishment:
At the beginning of my tenure at U.S. Travel, it became apparent that our industry would be more powerful speaking with one voice on Capitol Hill. By bringing the industry together and presenting a unified message, we’ve ensured that policymakers now recognize the overall travel industry as a critical driver of America’s economy. This industry unity was key when leading the charge to create and pass the Travel Promotion Act, legislation that created the United States' first national travel promotion program, now known as Brand USA. To secure successive administrations’ focus on the challenges facing our industry, we orchestrated face-to-face meetings on behalf of our members with Presidents Obama and Trump. Since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, our team secured much-needed relief for small travel businesses and continues to help guide the industry through this crisis.
A specific improvement I’ve made:
The meetings crisis in 2009 led to the realization that policymakers did not understand the value that business meetings and events contributed to the U.S. economy. With the aid of our industry partners, I led the effort to create the Meetings Mean Business Coalition. More than a decade later, the coalition’s lobbying and education efforts continue as we work toward the safe restart of meetings and events during the COVID-19 crisis.
What I am excited to be working on right now:
USTA is working closely with the Biden administration and the new Congress to identify solutions to revive travel safely and responsibly and to ensure they understand the role that travel plays in strengthening the American economy.
What I do outside of work:
I serve on the board of directors for RE/MAX International and the Forbes Travel Guide. I love vintage classic cars, as long as I know a good mechanic. Also, spending time with our children and new grandchild.
Favorite vacation destination:
It’s a toss-up between Laguna Niguel in California and The Resort at Pelican Hill, or our Steamboat Springs, Colo., home.
Your favorite inspirational quote:
There are two that have inspired me throughout the years. Billie Holiday’s song lyric: “The difficult I’ll do right now, the impossible will take a little while” and Mark Twain’s: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.”
Public figure I admire most: