President Donald Trump could be the best thing that’s happened to the meetings and events industry. “Candidly, we are very encouraged,” says Michael Dominguez, senior vice president and chief sales officer at MGM Resorts International
and co-chair of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition
. Trump’s background suggests pitches to improve the country’s meetings, travel, tourism and hospitality industries will not fall on deaf ears. While no one can say for certain how the new administration will play out, we called upon Dominguez and other meetings veterans to speculate what Trump may mean for events. It turns out the business forecast looks good heading into inauguration day. Here, four reasons—one for every year of his first term—to be optimistic about President Trump.
Trump is a hotelier.
“Knowing he is a hotel owner makes us comfortable he is going to understand our industry and our impact,” says Dominguez. In other words, Trump knows meetings, conferences and conventions mean big dollars for hotels, convention centers and cities—critical information for a former CEO. “He appreciates the business that conventions and trade shows have brought to his organization and others,” says John Russell, a D.C.-based attorney in Dentons
’ Public Policy and Regulation practice.
Trump understands face-to-face meetings.
Michael Massari, chief sales officer at Caesars Entertainment
, notes you don’t cut as many deals as Trump has without doing business in person. “You’ll recall Donald was constantly maligned for bypassing all the ways to campaign to focus simply on rallies,” says Massari. “I would contend he did so knowing face-to-face is much more powerful than video, direct mail and telephone communication.” And because he gets that, Trump is unlikely to do anything to dissuade groups from holding in-person events.
Trump favors travel.
One of the new president’s top priorities is improving the country’s travel infrastructure, much to Dominguez’s delight. “Our roads and airports are antiquated,” he laments. But the question remains whether the high price tag of keeping up with increased travel demands can overcome congressional gridlock. “I don’t know if he can put together a multitrillion-dollar infrastructure plan, but if he does, that clearly benefits all of us,” says Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of MPI
and co-chair of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition.
Trump cares a lot about trade.
That is an understatement. “He is borderline obsessed with trade,” says Massari. How that fits into meetings and events is that tourism is one of the country’s biggest exports. If Trump is serious about gaining leverage over trade partners like China, he will look to boost tourism dollars as part of a bigger picture.