Questioning President Trump’s impact on travel and the meetings industry

In the movie Elizabeth, about the first Queen Elizabeth, not the current one, The Queen is facing war with France and Spain. It’s on the eve of the sailing of the Spanish Armada. The Queen says, “I dislike war. The outcome is so unpredictable.”

So it is with elections.

The new administration has the world’s travel trade in turmoil.

A Travelzoo poll done before Donald Trump’s win was announced found that 31% of Brits would reconsider travel to the US. 20% said they definitely would not go. The Travelzoo poll predicted an unstable 2017 for the US, but a good year for Canadian tourism. Cheapflights said that as the election campaign progressed they saw a decline in preference for the US as a destination and in the last week bookings declined 52%.

Cheapflights also said that overnight searches for one-way flights from the US to Canada were 133% more than a month ago.

On election night the website for Canadian immigration crashed under the weight of searches.

A Travelmole poll says 58% of UK travel professionals thought a Trump presidency would be bad for business. US travel professionals were slightly more optimistic, with just 52% thinking it would be bad.

In the week before the election, Euromonitor published a paper which said Trump’s promise to ban Muslim travel to the US could cost up to $71 billion a year and cost 132,000 jobs. They also said AirBnB and Expedia could be hurt, given their property listings and courting of business to and from Mexico and South America. The Euromonitor report also wondered about the impact of a Trump/Pence administration on the fast-growing female and gay markets. (In office Governor Pence has adhered to his fundamentalist beliefs to take anti-gay and anti-choice positions.)

In the spring of 2016 we saw how a string of discriminatory state laws negatively impacted the meetings sector. For example, when North Carolina passed a “bathroom bill” which discriminated against LGBT people, a number of business and professional groups pulled their business from the state.

I wonder what impact a Trump presidency will have on AirBnB? Given that Trump is a hotelier, how open will his administration be to this type of competition? I realize he will be expected to put his business affairs in a blind trust, but will a Republican-dominated Congress ignore this type of business and not try to regulate it more? Will companies, which now allow their people to use AirBnB, feel comfortable continuing their corporate policy?

And what does this presidency mean to foreign groups? Obviously, some nationalities aren’t going to feel comfortable coming to the US for business. In 2011 Boston Economics determined that slow VISA approvals for delegates hoping to attend US-based trade shows were costing the US industry over $2.6 billion a year. That broke down to $1.5 billion in lost business-to-business trade; $540 million in lost registration fees and exhibition space spending; and $295 million in visitor spending. Reversing this lost business would translate into 43,000 new jobs and $750 million dollars in state and federal taxes.

The VISA process has improved, but will the new administration’s positions impact attendance by certain ethnic groups, gay delegates and their supporters?

The other question is how the new administration will impact sun destinations. Are US businesses going to feel comfortable hosting events in Mexico? Will Mexican businesses and representatives feel comfortable participating in events in the US? Could the new Washington, with it’s America-centric position, take a dim view towards those groups who don’t use a US-based destination for their event?

Then we turn to the Caribbean. The Obama Administration has been opening doors to Cuba. American Airlines have started flying there. Marriott has opened a Havana hotel and announced plans for others. Several cruise lines are negotiating to include it in their itineraries. If President Trump rolls back all of President Obama’s legacy, what does that do to the future of Cuba-US relations? That impacts not just Cuba, but the rest of the Caribbean as individuals and groups have to rethink reservations or future plans.

There’s a lot to consider about the impact of this administration on the travel and meetings sector.

 

Is print retro chic?

The beauty and challenge of the digital world is the vast information flow. The challenge is the volume of seductive diversions that lead many of us away from our original search.

A recent study by PEW Research found that 50 percent of Millennials still prefer, and place a high value on, print. The PEW findings support a Huffington Post piece published on February 2, 2015 (Sorry, Ebooks. These 9 studies show why print is better). American University linguist Naomi Baron, in explaining university students’ preference for print, maintains that while digital is convenient and easy to read on-line, it comes with distractions, encourages multi-tasking, skim reading and poor comprehension.

As a result, print, while often pronounced dead, seems to be in a type of resurgence. I see a parallel with vinyl vs digital music among purists.

Yesterday I received a digital copy of a new print magazine launched by the Quebec City Convention Centre. I was staggered by the professionalism of this title.

http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/centre-des-congres-quebec/ccq_revue2016_flippage_ang/2016053001/#0

Earlier in the month I read of the launch of a new print magazine for Silicon Valley! A print magazine – dead tree technology – is seen as the way to stand out in Ground Zero of the digital world. Print, for Silicon Valley residents, stands out and carries a greater weight. Perhaps they find attraction in the retro chic of print.

VisitBritain, which last year announced a new social media focus, refocused in March to produce their own print magazine as part of their marketing thrust. Expedia – the on-line booking agency – also produces a print magazine. As does AirBnB.

A conversation with a Vancouver meeting executive amplified the challenge of a purely social media presence. She tried to call up her company’s blog while we spoke. She couldn’t access it. Her company’s software blocked her from opening another link. This executive says she receives over 100 emails a day. The bulk of them are sales pitches, which she deletes without opening. However, when something comes via snail mail, she is more inclined to devote time to read it.

Three weeks ago in London I saw bookstores filled with readers. On the Tubes, out of every four people reading, three were reading print – either a book or newspaper. Those holding print products were younger. It was Baby Boomers who had the electronic readers (maybe drawn by the large print function…). The Saturday I flew back to Canada, The Guardian produced a 20-page book review section! Even in Canada, book sales are up 5%.

Maybe those titles which struggle, struggle because they don’t offer their readers much in the way of information, ideas and entertainment. With so much cannibalization of content there is a lack of originality.

That struggle to provide engaging, useful and the right information and story translates to social media. It’s pointless to be on all social media platforms if your message isn’t the right message for the audience you hope to attract. The competition for attention exists. It’s the destination’s and property’s duty to be pertinent. And if print isn’t part of your marketing mix, the disciplines of print newsgathering and story-telling still stand up.

As one former publisher wrote, “I don’t know where media is going but I think being interesting, credible and seductive will remain important.”

Destination Doctor can help with your story telling and curating the right facts for your audience. Whatever media you employ.