ALBANY — The New York State Hospitality and Tourism Association works as an advocacy group for the fourth largest industry in the Empire State. Ask its newly appointed president what season his staff is at its busiest — winter, spring, summer or fall — and he’ll answer: the legislative season.
The Board of Directors for the New York State Hospitality and Tourism Association (NYSH&TA) recently appointed Mark Dorr as president of the not-for-profit trade organization which represents businesses and individuals in the lodging and attraction industry throughout the state.
“I think the biggest challenge for any non-profit association is remaining relevant, as far as issues legislatively and making sure the membership sees value,” said Dorr. “… they’re looking for a return in that investment.”
The association is currently pushing for legislation that addresses the current sharing economy trend negatively impacting the lodging industry. For example, Airbnb allows peer-to-peer exchanges of rental properties. Whether it is a homeowner willing to rent out a spare room to travelers, or someone offering a week’s stay at the family’s summer home at the Cape — this online marketplace boasts more than 1,500,000 listings in 34,000 around the world. By simply providing such a platform by means of a service fee, Wired.com recently reported Airbnb’s at $10 billion. And its reach with consumers have market analysts predicting Airbnb business will surpass the world’s largest hotel chains, without owning a hotel.
“We’re looking to put forth legislation… to level the playing field with those type of establishments and the hotel industry,” said Dorr. Such a bill would call for shared lodging to at least abide by the same rules and regulations as a bed and breakfast, with proper tax reporting and following health code standards.
Prior to his promotion, Dorr served as vice-president and communications manager for the organization, which has been in existence since 1887, making it the oldest state lodging association in the nation.
“Mark served as the interim president of our organization, and during that time showed tremendous talent and dedication to the success of the NYSH&TA,” said Kathy Muncil, Chairman of the board. “Mark has already had a significant effect on NYSH&TA’s ability to succeed in our mission which is to lead and protect our industry with the implementation of many positive changes, including the fostering of key industry relationships,”
NYSH&TA’s represents nearly 1,000 lodging properties, totaling over 122,000 guest rooms, or 70 percent of the total guest room inventory in the state. Association membership is also comprised of approximately 50 parks and attractions, over 100 industry suppliers, and more than 200 cooperating organizations, tourism educators, students and individuals combined.
“[The] industry needs a strong voice to make sure its interests are protected,” said Dorr. “Advocates at NYSH&TA work hard each and every legislative session and throughout the year to ensure that voice is heard and acted upon. As president I look forward to creating successful outcomes for businesses, for the industry at large and for the many tourists who visit our cities and towns.”
The association provides benefits in three major categories: advocacy on behalf of the industry before state lawmakers and regulatory agencies; educational offerings that help members best serve their customers; resources in the form of money-saving programs, networking opportunities and online marketing exposure.
“I will continue to be a tireless advocate on behalf of the state’s tourism industry, and most especially the lodging community. New York State has a wealth of attractions, historical landmarks, and world-class hotels and resorts. We aim to be a destination for travelers throughout the world. We will continue to excite tourists and deliver experiences they can cherish for a lifetime,” said Dorr.
Dorr has a strong communications background which he brings to this new position. He graduated from the College of Saint Rose with a degree in public communications and received his master’s degree in journalism and public communications from Murray State University, Murray, KY.
After graduating from college, Dorr worked as an editor and feature writer for a trade magazine publishing company and was the editor an award-winning, weekly newspaper in the Catskills. He also spent three years as an editor of a daily newspaper based in Troy.
Dorr lives in Niskayuna, just outside of Albany, with his wife Amanda and two children, Lauryn and Sydney..