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by Matt Alderton | July 24, 2015
During a special dinner, taking place Nov. 18 in Washington, DC, the U.S. Travel Association will induct travel industry veterans Michael Leven and W. Stephen Maritz into the U.S. Travel Hall of Leaders, it announced yesterday.

Leven -- who has led numerous hospitality companies, including Las Vegas Sands Corp., Holiday Inn Worldwide, U.S. Franchise Systems (Microtel Inn, Hawthorn Suites), Days Inn America, and the Georgia Aquarium -- is co-founder of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), former international president of the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI), and a member of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA).

Maritz, meanwhile, is chairman and CEO of Maritz Holdings Inc., the parent company of Maritz Travel. Among the achievements for which he's being inducted is a 2009 meeting with President Baracka Obama during which he and other industry leaders promoted the value of incentive travel and face-to-face meetings, which were under increased scrutiny. His presence helped draw support from the president for the industry, and helped minimize rhetoric from policymakers against federal government employee participation in meetings and conventions.

"Mike and Steve merit this top honor for consistently cultivating excellence in their organizations and leading the travel industry in engagement and performance," said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. "Mike has innovated his entire career, building brands and starting the highly regarded Asian American Hotel Owners Association, and Steve has built a venerable company that has become synonymous with incentive travel, a very valuable component of the travel industry. This is well-deserved recognition, and I look forward to joining the rest of the travel community in honoring them."

Leven and Maritz join 90 previous inductees in the U.S. Travel Hall of Leaders, which was created in 1969. The 2014 inductees were Sam Gilliland of Sabre Holdings and Rossi Ralenkotter of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.