The Travel Industry by the Numbers, with David Huether

Episode 101:

David Huether currently serves as the Senior Vice President of Research at the U.S. Travel Association. In this role, David manages the association’s economic, tourism marketing and advocacy research programs. The U.S. Travel Association is a national non-profit travel advocacy organization working within all aspects of the travel and tourism industry, generating $2.4 trillion in economic output and supporting more than 15 million jobs in the United States.

Before he joined U.S Travel in January of 2011, David was Chief Economist at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), where he served as the organization’s economic forecaster and principal spokesman on economic matters important to America’s industrial base. Prior to joining NAM in 1997, David worked with the Bureau of Economic Analysis at the U.S Department of Commerce as an economist. David received his bachelor’s degree from Guilford College in North Carolina in 1990, and he obtained his graduate degree in economics from George Washington University in 1997.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with David about the important information-gathering and analytic work his organization, the U.S. Travel Association, is doing. U.S. Travel and other advocacy groups collect, collate, and disseminate statistics about the travel industry, helping to secure funding and support from local, state and federal policy-makers. Listen to our conversation and discover what information is being gathered, and how that information is being used to reshape our industry.

What You Will Learn:

  • Learn what is officially considered “travel”, and what sort of immense impact on domestic business and leisure travel have to the U.S. economy.
  • David explains the challenges the United States faces in capturing its share of international travel from other nations, and what steps are being taken to address the problem.
  • David discusses why many outside factors impact the state of the travel industry. Indicators such as the strength of the US Dollar, the price of gasoline, and national employment growth all have their part to play.
  • The U.S. Travel “Made In America” report is a powerful tool available to destination marketing professionals to showcase how the travel industry is an important economic contributor to local communities across the country.
  • Learn what fascinating and illuminating information U.S. Travel discovered when analyzing the career paths of travel professionals compared to professionals from other industries, across a thirty year period.

Why do the Numbers Matter?

One of the great challenges we face is successfully educating policy-makers on how important the travel industry is on both the local and national level. There is an unfortunate perception that travel is just a “fun but low-wage” industry to work in, which we know isn’t the truth of the situation.

Having access to the important metrics that organizations like the U.S. Travel Association track and gather can help dispel these misunderstandings. The travel and tourism industries have an incredible, far-reaching impact on communities across the country. Revenue is generated, jobs are created, and entire regions are boosted by our industry, so it’s critical that we get that message out.

How the Information is Used

Once groups like U.S. Travel have analyzed and processed the information they gather from their studies, those reports can be used to show a cause-and-effect relationship between government travel policies and funding, and how those initiatives impact communities.

By shining a light on the clear relationship between policy and outcome, advocacy groups can illustrate how important our industry is to the health of our communities and can create a stronger point from which to argue on behalf of important policies and changes. This work is crucial to the travel industry, which is why it was my pleasure to speak with David on the subject.


Episode Transcript