WASHINGTON (July 24, 2014) - Travel industry advocates Sam Gilliland of Sabre Corporation and Rossi Ralenkotter of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority have been selected as the 2014 inductees into the U.S. Travel Hall of Leaders. Gilliland and Ralenkotter will be honored during a dinner among more than 100 travel industry leaders during the U.S. Travel winter board meeting on November 19 at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce building in Washington, D.C.
Distinguished individuals are named to the Hall of Leaders maintained by the U.S. Travel Association for "sustained, noteworthy contributions that have positively impacted the travel industry, stimulated greater achievement, and raised industry-wide standards."
"Sam and Rossi have consistently stepped up beyond their leadership for their organizations to engage at the national, state and local levels on behalf of the industry's interests," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "They have volunteered their time to regularly engage with policymakers and other industry leaders to ensure travel is recognized as vital to our economy and well-being. This is well-deserved recognition, and I look forward to joining the rest of the travel community in honoring them."
Gilliland, chairman emeritus for Sabre Corp., not only has led one of the world's largest and most innovative travel technology companies, but has made industry advocacy a major part of his professional life. He has been committed to improving the visa and entry process, building support for Brand USA, promoting risk-based security and fighting human trafficking.
In 2014, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker named Gilliland chairman of the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board after he served as vice chairman the previous term. TTAB works with government partners to advance priority issues critical to increasing travel and tourism to the U.S.
Gilliland also advocated for the industry's interests in his role as a member of U.S. Travel's CEO Roundtable, comprised of select corporate travel leaders. He has also served at the local level on the board of directors for the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, and was appointed to serve on President Obama's Management Advisory Board.
Ralenkotter, president/CEO of the LVCVA, last year celebrated his fortieth year at the organization, which has helped Las Vegas to be recognized as among the top iconic destinations in the world. Ralenkotter oversaw creation of the "What Happens Here, Stays Here" campaign, recognized in many quarters as the most famous and effective destination marketing effort of all time.
Ralenkotter was a member of the original White House Conference on Tourism in 1995, also served as chairman of the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, and is a former chairman of the U.S. Travel Association. He was instrumental in securing passage of the Travel Promotion Act, which established what is now known as Brand USA, and preserving the SIAT in-flight tourism survey.
His efforts with U.S. Travel also helped usher in improvements to the visa approval process around the world, expansion of the Visa Waiver Program, and helping policymakers understand the critical value of meetings and conventions. Ralenkotter was the driving force behind U.S. Travel's inaugural Connecting American Through Travel (CATT) conference, a highly publicized gathering of transportation leaders that called attention to the crisis facing travel infrastructure.
Ralenkotter has been named one of the 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry by Meeting News and was named Co-Brand Marketer of the Year by Brandweek magazine. He has received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the American Marketing Association, the Travel and Tourism Research Association and Travel Weekly, and was recently inducted into the Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) Hall of Fame.
With these inductions, 90 travel industry professionals have been inducted into the U.S. Travel Hall of Leaders since it was created in 1969. The 2013 inductees were longtime Disney travel executive Randy Garfield and CityPASS co-founder Mike Gallagher.