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 2020...

Hotel Law: Protecting Guest Privacy

Every business is obligated to protect their customers from identity theft but unfortunately, data breaches have become all too common. In an effort to protect a guest's right to privacy and to safeguard their personal data, the European Union passed a General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that could hold hotels legally liable for any breaches that expose a customer's sensitive personal information. Though the GDPR only pertains to EU citizens' data, any international business that mishandles their data can be legally responsible. Another legal issue of concern is the fight involving hotel "resort fees." Several states attorney generals have recently filed suit against two major hotel chains in an effort to litigate this practice. Their suit alleges that these companies are "engaged in deceptive and misleading pricing practices and their failure to disclose fees is in violation of consumer protection laws." The suit seeks to force the hotel chains to advertise the true price of their hotel rooms. There are several other legal issues that the industry is being forced to address. Sexual harassment prevention in the workplace is still top of mind for hotel employers-particularly in New York and California, which now statutorily require harassment training. Hotels and motels in California will also soon be required to train all their employees on human trafficking awareness. Immigration issues are also of major concern to hotel employers, especially in the midst of a severe labor shortage. The government is issuing fewer H2B visas for low-skilled workers, as well as J-1 visas for temporary workers. Though there is little hope for any comprehensive immigration reform, hotel lobbying groups are actively seeking legal remedies to alleviate this problem. These are just a few of the critical issues that the December issue of the Hotel Business Review will examine in the area of hotel law.