Imagine you work in the travel & tourism business. Now, imagine you’re the senior executive leading a major U.S. city’s tourism efforts.
Now, consider these sobering facts:
– The overall travel & tourism industry is expected to LOSE $7.4 billion in revenue in 2017.
– Next year will be EVEN WORSE: There will 6.3 million fewer tourists and $10.8 billion in lost revenues.
Miami will be the hardest hit destination spot, followed closely by San Francisco and New York (serves them right for once being, or continuing to be, sanctuary cities).
Anyway, these dire facts and projections are the direct result of what the New York Times has dubbed, “The Trump Slump.”
It seems our 45th president’s vitriolic, whacko and completely unsubstantiated claims are sending a very clear, if unsettling, message to the rest of the world: Find other countries to kick back and relax while on vacation.
Arne Sorensen, chief executive of Marriott International, the world’s biggest hotel company, says it isn’t just tourists who are steering clear of the land of the free and the home of the brave: “…companies and conferences were also choosing to host events in other countries due to uncertainty over restrictions on entry to the U. S.”
Now, factor in yesterday’s hate crime in Fresno, the Charleston Church shootings and the deranged, random gunman who chose to document his assassination of a complete stranger on Facebook, and you’re facing a serious image and reputation challenge if you happen to be in charge of any large U.S. city’s tourism and business conference operations.
Things have gotten so dicey that even those fun-loving Canadians I always seem to bump into at the Jersey Shore over the Fourth of July weekend are staying put in the Great White North. Can anyone imagine a Summer in Cape May without bumping into roving bands of Québécois who’ve just driven 1,000 miles to frolic in our syringe-strewn seas?
Want some more anti-globalization fat to chew on? The number of flights from China and Iraq have dropped 40 percent since January 20th (The Donald’s inauguration date lest you forget), and demand from Ireland and New Zealand are down 35 percent.
Ah, but try to guess the one country where departing flights to the U.S. have surged 60 percent this year? If you said the land of Lenin, Tolstoy and Vlad “The Bear” Putin, you’d be correct.
While all of this news is sad and sobering (and has untold ripple effects on the cottage industries that support hotels, convention halls and Disney-type theme parks), consider the implications on jobs. Yes, jobs. The one issue that propelled Trump to his incredible victory.
While I wasn’t able to unearth specific numbers or predictions, The Trump Factor is singlehandedly idling hundreds, if not tens of thousands, of Americans who count on long-term employment in travel & tourism to earn their livelihood.
Methinks the president couldn’t care less since I understand Trump-branded properties are faring quite well. So, if Eric and Donald, Jr., aren’t being impacted, what’s the big deal? And, speaking of deals, how about that monopolistic move by Ivanka with Communist China? That should reset a lot of jobs. In China.
What is crystal clear is that Trump will only accelerate his isolationist, America-first Tweeting and pontificating. In his endless efforts to flex America’s muscle, he’s dramatically weakened one of the key sectors of our economy. But, hey, I’ll bet all the statistics I’ve read and cited would be dismissed by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer as mere “…Left-Wing, fake news from the Opposition Party.”
Leaving Spicey and getting back to the profound marketing challenge facing the travel & tourism industry today, I suggest they consider one of these three campaign strategies:
1.) Admit fault, but position fear and hatred as an unexpected value add to a foreign national’s otherwise mundane vacation: “You’ve always wanted to see the Grand Canyon. Now, we can detain you AND provide a few extra weeks to explore ALL of its natural beauty. But, remember to pack your handcuffs. it’s a BYO destination.”
2.) Play-up the historical significance of a vacation to the U.S. during Trump’s reign. “You missed Mussolini and were too young to experience Stalin’s Gulags, so why not watch, firsthand, as a Democracy becomes a dictatorship. Talk about a story you can tell the grand kids!”
3.) Throw up your hands and tell it like it is. Borrow a line from a Tom Petty classic and run ads headlined, “Don’t come around here no more. Or, at least not until 2039.'”
Thoughts (and campaign themes) welcomed.
And A tip o’ RepMan’s cap to Chris Cody for suggesting this post.