Editor’s Note: Connecting the Dots is a series of monthly conversations with Michael Dominguez, President and CEO of Associated Luxury Hotels International. The series examines issues in the global economy in 2024 that will “connect the dots” to be helpful not only in business but in life as well. In this installment, Tim Altbaum, Founder and CEO at Vario, a full-service A/V and production company, sat down with Mike to discuss the implications of 2024 being an election year. Altbaum is president-elect of the MPI DFW Chapter, a former board member of NACE, and holds CSEP, CMP, HMCC and CMM designations.  


Tim Altbaum: It's election year, so can you tell us how that might affect what's going on in our industry?  


Michael Dominguez: It's a great starting point. There’s no running away from it. I think there's two things I would start with. First and foremost, we are so U.S. centric. Something we forget is 60% of the world GDP will have an election this year. Forty countries will have an election this year. I'm actually more concerned about what that means to relationships and trade. There's enough friction around the world. What does that mean with new alliances? We don't know. That is probably more on my radar than even the U.S. election. But bringing it back home, can't go anywhere without everyone saying it's an election year. Well, interesting thing is, if you look at RevPAR in our industry, which is our measurement of the hotel industry and our health, and in simplest terms, RevPAR is rooms revenue; if you look at RevPAR, and I went back to 2004 and every single election year—2004, 2008, 2012, 2016—we grew apart from the year before. Yet I consistently hear that it's an election year. It's going to be a bad year for us. The data doesn't support that. Now the only year it did decline was 2008. But I remind everybody that it was Lehman Brothers. Lehman Brothers collapsed in September (2008), and that means we lost the entire fourth quarter. So that downturn had nothing to do with the election; had everything to do with the economic environment and the ‘great recession’ that was beginning. So, it makes me more optimistic about our industry to say these are narratives…that we start to believe in that the election is really going to have an impact. 



Altbaum: The date of the election maybe isn't as important. 


Dominguez: It's not quite the environment that we see today. Now, there's some great Gallup research that will tell you that Americans being surveyed about politics that their No. 1 feeling is anger. Their No. 2 feeling is depression. I'm always telling people get ready to be angry and depressed because we're in an election year. I really do think it's a sad testament to where we are in the political cycle because we know it's an election year and we know the only thing we're going to be hearing is how bad we are. I'm more optimistic than that. We always have our problems. We will always have our challenges. But I'm very optimistic that we live in a free society. It’s these opportunities for us to hopefully come together and really start to get some serious work done.