Jonathan Tisch at the NYU Hotel Investment Conference "Travel is not discretionary, it's essential"

This week we will be reporting highlights from the 44th Annual NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference. Briefly in New York last week, I had the chance to meet with Jon Tisch who was very much looking forward to the NYU Conference, which would be his 32nd time chairing the event, and he was happy registrations were ahead of the banner 2019 conference.

Jonathan Tisch
lunch with Jon Tisch at Viand, a favorite coffee shop in NYC.

Jon was excited to gather and see everyone. He said despite uncertainties around the globe, there is optimism. Here are some excerpts from his opening remarks.

Travel is essential to the way we work and live—because it has tremendous potential to connect us—to each other, to ideas, and to opportunity.

“Travel is essential to the way we work and live—because it has tremendous potential to connect us—to each other, to ideas, and to opportunity,” said Tisch. “It brings people together, broadens perspectives, and spurs innovation and progress.”


Tisch stressed that, at a time when people and organizations are scrutinizing their budgets, the hospitality industry must demonstrate that travel has value beyond the economic.

If the past two years have proven anything, it’s that travel is not discretionary: it’s essential.

Tisch first described travel’s ability to connect people. He enumerated the challenges facing society in the wake of the pandemic, including division and loneliness, casting travel as an antidote to isolation. He stated, “At a time of division, polarization, and anxiety, we have to remind decision-makers that travel is not a distraction from society’s most pressing problems—it’s a solution to them.”

Jonathan Tisch, CEO of Loews Hotels, at the NYU Conference
Jonathan Tisch, CEO of Loews Hotels, at the 44th NYU Conference

Tisch went on to explain how travel can connect people to ideas. As business travel has yet to fully recover and workers quickly tire of their home offices, he urged leaders to embrace an emerging reality.


“The lines between work, travel, and leisure have permanently blurred,” he said. “Workers who don’t have an office or a water cooler anymore can find one in Miami, or Philadelphia, or Asheville… that presents a unique chance for us as an industry to reimagine our offerings, to make them attractive to every kind of business traveler.”


Tisch then implored leaders to focus on creating more opportunities for advancement within hospitality. As the industry faces historic labor shortages, he reminded conference attendees of the benefits it can provide to workers, including inclusive workplaces, competitive compensation packages, and professional development opportunities.


“There’s a reason we’re the first stop for many immigrants and others pursuing the American Dream,” said Tisch. “To climb the ranks, you don’t need to enter with hyper-specialized skills or credentials. You need a good attitude, a willingness to work hard, and a desire to make people feel welcome.”


Finally, Tisch issued a rallying cry to leaders to do their part to make travel essential. "No matter where you sit in the travel ecosystem—whether you’re an investor, a hotelier, an architect, a builder, or a student who will determine the future of our industry—you’ll play a role in this effort. We can start right here, right now."

No matter where you sit in the travel ecosystem—whether you’re an investor, a hotelier, an architect, a builder, or a student who will determine the future of our industry—you’ll play a role in this effort. We can start right here, right now.