US elections’ impact on business travel

Posted in Blog

By Charuta Fadnis, Senior Director, Research & Intelligence

With the United States presidential election quickly approaching, news and rhetoric from both parties is nearly impossible to avoid.   Every election year, a debate rages within the travel industry about the election’s impact on travel demand. While the rhetoric and media frenzy surrounding elections may make it difficult for marketing messages to reach travelers, there has been no data showing that elections cause a slowdown in travel.

That is not to say the travel industry is immune to elections. On the contrary, since investment decisions hinge on economic policy, businesses are particularly sensitive to what candidates say about their plans for the economy. However, this year’s contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has upended many election traditions. While Clinton has laid out a detailed economic policy, Trump has yet to provide details about many aspects of his plan. This has added to the uncertainty about the U.S.’s future economic agenda.  Beyond the immediate effects of the campaign trail, travel managers must now look to the year ahead and consider how the election and future president will affect their programs.

If Donald Trump wins, businesses will likely put investment on hold, as they await more detail on his policies. This will inevitably weaken business travel demand, at least temporarily.  Inbound travel could also be hit by this uncertainty and the unknowns around Trump’s foreign policy.  If Hillary Clinton wins, the period of uncertainty is expected to be much shorter, and the risks to demand lower. With the world economy expected to grow at a stronger pace next year, as the new president’s policies become clearer, confidence should return and any negative impact of the election on business travel will fade.

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