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.
Distinguished individuals are named to the hall -- maintained by the U.S. Travel Association -- for sustained, noteworthy contributions that have positively impacted the travel industry. Gilliland and Ralenkotter will be feted during a November 19 dinner during the U.S. Travel winter board meeting at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce building in Washington, D.C.
"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 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, U.S. 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.
Gilliland 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 and CEO, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, celebrated his 40th year at the organization last year. U.S. Travel said he's helped Las Vegas to be recognized as among the top iconic destinations in the world; it cited, among other tourism elements, the highly successful "What Happens Here, Stays Here" campaign.
Ralenkotter, former chairman of the U.S. Travel Association, was a member of the original White House Conference on Tourism in 1995. He also served as chairman of the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board.
U.S. Travel said Ralenkotter 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. The association also said his efforts with U.S. Travel helped usher in improvements to the visa approval process around the world, expand the Visa Waiver Program and help 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. Among his many honors, he's received lifetime achievement awards from the American Marketing Association and the Travel and Tourism Research Association. He was also recently inducted into the Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) Hall of Fame.
Including these two new 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 Randy Garfield, longtime Disney travel executive, and Mike Gallagher, CityPASS co-founder.