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 January 2020...

Mobile Technology: Feature Focus Demo

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is "resilience", the ability to "go with the flow" and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition-new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.