Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Jacobson

Michael Jacobson

President & CEO, Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association

Michael Jacobson has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association (IHLA) since October 2018.

Mr. Jacobson brings an exciting level of visibility for Illinois' hotels throughout the state, garnering significant political influence for the organization with leadership in both Springfield and Chicago. He has been instrumental in key legislative victories (some of them 15 years in the making) for the industry, including increasing the lodging per-diem for state employees; striking a compromise on the Fair Workweek Ordinance that balanced predictability for employees and flexibility for employers; and working with state legislators to pass legislation protecting hotel employees from sexual harassment and prevent human trafficking in hotels.

Previously, Mr. Jacobson served as the Senior Director of Industry Relations and Political Engagement of the U.S. Travel Association (USTA). With USTA since 2010, Mr. Jacobson contributed to a dynamic organization made up of 1,200 member organizations, 65 employees and $34M in revenues.

Beginning as a Coordinator, then Manager, overseeing USTA's political action committee (PAC) and grassroots advocacy, he quickly rose to Director of Industry Relations and Political Engagement, and then Senior Director. He built fundamental relationships both locally and nationally with elected officials and senior-level leaders in the travel industry. In addition to his business development and member retention responsibilities, he also led the charge in political engagement activities - including grassroots advocacy, state-based campaigns and PAC fundraising.

Mr. Jacobson's expertise led to numerous speaking engagements for USTA, where he has shared industry insights at travel industry conferences and state-level lobby days. One of USTA's most successful initiatives, Mr. Jacobson also spearheaded "Travel Talks," a site visit program connecting members of Congress with local travel leaders.

Mr. Jacobson holds a BA in Political Science from Seton Hall University, and remains active in the alumni community. An advocate for the American Cancer Society, he sits on the Global Relay For Life Leadership Team and founded Seton Hall University's annual effort. Global Relay For Life enables cancer leagues around the world to increase their visibility and generate cancer awareness, outreach and income while building survivorship, volunteerism, and advocacy efforts in their communities.

Mr. Jacobson also serves as a Trustee on the Illinois Township District 214 Education Foundation Board of Trustees.

Please visit http://www.illinoishotels.org for more information.

Mr. Jacobson can be contacted at +1 312-346-3135 or mjacobson@illinoishotels.org

Coming up in September 2019...

Hotel Group Meetings: Uncommon Destinations

The last few years have been good to the Hotel Group Meetings industry and that trend is expected to continue into 2019. Planners are brimming with confidence due to an expanding economy and increased job creation, which typically results in a boost in corporate meetings. Given this promising outlook, planners are trying to outdo themselves to satisfy the high expectations of their clients. One notable trend is to integrate unusual settings into the meeting experience, hosting groups at local zoos, aquariums, museums, event centers, or other outdoor facilities. The goal is to embrace uncommon destinations, rather than a typical hotel conference room, so that meetings can be memorable, unique and stimulating. This is also part of another trend which is to support all things local - from hosting events at landmark city venues; to catering through local restaurants, food trucks and microbreweries; to hosting off-site excursions like agri-tours, athletic events or scenic 5k routes. However, though the setting might be spectacular, there are still some bedrock components that must be provided to ensure a successful meeting. Free, high-speed Wi-Fi is still one of the most requested services. Planners have to make sure that a comprehensive communication infrastructure is in place so clients can easily connect - and stay connected - to the network throughout the entire meeting experience. Also, technology tools can be used to streamline the booking, registration, and check-in process, and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) materials can be utilized to ensure seamless access to conference events. There are also numerous software tools that encourage audience participation, as well as integrating polls, Q&A, surveys and games into speakers' presentations. The September Hotel Business Review will examine issues relevant to group meetings and will report on what some hotels are doing to promote this sector of their operations.