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U.S. Travel Association’s Future of Travel Mobility Conference

By M+E Staff

While attending the 2022 Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference on Sept. 21-23 in Snowmass, presenter Angie Briggs, vice president of industry relations for the U.S. Travel Association, spoke about the state of the tourism industry at the opening session and led a “Getting Candid About Workforce” seminar. During the workforce breakout session, she mentioned U.S. Travel’s Future of Travel Mobility Conference that took place on Sept. 20, which caught my attention as both workforce and transportation are topics of utmost importance to the meetings and events industry. 

I plan to provide an overview of what’s known as “Gov Con” on the Colorado Meetings + Events website and want to offer a few highlights from the mobility conference held at Union Station in Washington, D.C. During the full-day event, leaders from some of America’s largest travel, transportation, and technology companies joined public officials in exploring issues critical to the coming decade of travel mobility and the traveler experience, including sustainability, frictionless and secure travel, emerging trends, and innovative technology.

Conference Highlights

  • U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman and MGM Resorts International CEO and President Bill Hornbuckle opened the conference by discussing innovative sustainability measures taken by the Las Vegas tourism industry and the short-term policies needed for a stronger, more sustainable travel industry nationwide. 
  • Making EV infrastructure accessible to all Americans was the focus of a fireside chat between Tori Emerson Barnes, U.S. Travel’s executive vice president of public affairs and policy, and Chrissy Taylor, president and CEO of the car rental company Enterprise Holdings. 
  • Automation of travel was the topic at hand for Gil West, COO of Cruise, who shared a video showing his company’s autonomous vehicle picking up passengers in San Francisco.
  • In an “End-to-End Travel Sustainability” presentation, a group of three panelists explained how corporate environmental commitments and changing traveler expectations are leading to more eco-friendly travel options. “Business traveler customers are looking at sustainability as a point of decision making,” noted Jean Garris Hand, vice president of Global ESG, Hilton. “Our corporate customers want to align with fellow, purpose-driven organizations as partners.”
  • While leisure travel demand is strong and business travel’s near-term growth forecast is robust, U.S. Travel is bracing for headwinds due to high inflation and fluctuating fuel prices.
  • The day’s final speaker, Rep. Sam Graves, ranking member of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, discussed the next Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill. Information and ideas are being gathered now with the reauthorization process likely starting early next year.