Roger Dow, who as CEO of U.S. Travel oversaw the conversion of a tepid industry association into a lobbying powerhouse, announced he will be stepping down in July 2022.
Dow will be remembered for wrangling a fractious group of travel sectors with competing interests — hotels, cruise lines, destinations, airlines, airports, theme parks, tour operators, rental car companies, payment systems, intermediaries — into a unified organization that put aside their differences to line up behind the common goal of increasing travel to and within the United States
Together with Loews Hotel chairman Jonathan Tisch, Dow helped engineer the merging of the former U.S. Travel Industry Association and Tisch’s Travel Business Roundtable to create U.S. Travel in 2008.
That year, the meetings and hospitality industry faced the double challenge of a recession and criticism from elected officials, including President Obama, for holding meetings in luxury properties during an economic downturn. In coalition with other industry groups, the Meetings Mean Business initiative was launched, helping to stem the threat during a particularly difficult period. Dow recalls that period as the association’s “coming of age” period.
Another of the organization’s major accomplishments under Dow’s leadership was the passage of the Travel Promotion Act, which led to the creation of Brand USA, which markets the country abroad.
The group also advocated heavily to increase the number of countries in the Visa Waiver Program; 11 additional countries were admitted into the program while Dow was CEO.
Most recently, U.S. Travel played a significant role in ensuring that travel companies were included in relief packages during the Covid crisis.
Dow, who prior to accepting the role at U.S. Travel had been senior vice president of global and field sales for Marriott International, said he had had an epiphany when he realized that lobbying was just another form of sales.
“It’s a matter of saying, ‘This is important, and here’s why.’ That’s what I’ve done my whole life.”
Dow said that following his departure from U.S. Travel, his intention is to stay in the industry in a role that continues to address what he considers to be important unresolved challenges.
U.S. Travel national chair Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, praised Dow and said she would appoint a search committee to identify the association’s next CEO.