by Loren G. Edelstein | July 27, 2017
Longtime industry leaders Arne Sorenson and Randy Smith have been selected as the 2017 inductees into the U.S. Travel Hall of Leaders. Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International and current chairman of U.S. Travel's CEO Roundtable, and Smith, co-founder and chairman of hospitality data and analytics firm STR, will be honored during a Nov. 14 dinner among more than 100 industry leaders at U.S. Travel's fall board meeting in Washington, D.C.
 
Distinguished individuals are named to U.S. Travel's Hall of Leaders for "sustained, noteworthy contributions that have positively impacted the travel industry, stimulated greater achievement and raised industrywide standards."
 
"Beyond leading two outstanding organizations focused on economic growth and job creation through travel, Arne and Randy have been vocal advocates for the industry for several decades," said U.S. Travel president and CEO Roger Dow. "Arne not only oversees one of the leading travel brands, but he is investing his time and expertise to promote the industry via the media and through his involvement in Brand USA. Randy created a data-research company that has been the industry standard for measuring the health of the hotel economy over the past three-plus decades, and advanced the industry through active participation in various associations." He added, "This is well-deserved recognition, and we'll have a lot to celebrate when the travel community honors them in November."
 
Sorenson joined Marriott in 1996. He became the third CEO in the company's history in 2012 -- and the first without the Marriott surname. Following Marriott's acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts last year, more than 675,000 people now wear a Marriott name badge at managed and franchised hotels worldwide.
 
Sorenson currently is a member of the board of Brand USA, serving as treasurer and chairman of its finance committee after having previously served as chairman of the board. Sorenson also served as vice chair of the President's Export Council under President Barack Obama, helping raise the visibility of the travel industry with multinational CEOs and leaders at the highest levels of our government.
 
Smith co-founded STR (formerly Smith Travel Research) with his late wife, Carolyn, in 1985, and helped revolutionize the hotel industry by providing data benchmarking that informs decisions and drives strategies. STR's data sample today comprises nearly 58,000 hotels and 7.8 million rooms across 180 countries.
 
Smith's contributions to the industry have been recognized with numerous awards, most recently when he was honored with the HSMAI 2016 Albert E. Koehl Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a member and past chairman of the Industry Real Estate Finance Advisory Council and past vice chairman of the American Hotel and Lodging Association Foundation Funding Committee.
 
With these inductions, 94 travel industry professionals have been named to the U.S. Travel Hall of Leaders since it was created in 1969. The 2016 inductees were Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California, and Chris Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton Worldwide.