As the U.S. Election Day draws closer, industry analysts have taken note of a downturn in the growth of business travel in the United States, coinciding with widespread uncertainty over what kind of business environment the eventual new regime would bring. According to the Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) latest forecast, total travel volume is expected to rise by only a mere 1% by year’s end, with spending falling by .6%. While other factors are responsible as well, such as continuing concern over the Zika virus and multiple major storms affecting travel, the election remains the most immediately visible one, thanks in large part to its omnipresence in mass media. Businesses across the United States are in a kind of “holding pattern”, sitting idle and being cautious with their spending as they wait to see who will win on November 8th.
The most heavily-affected kind of US-based corporate travel is outbound international trips, with their volume and spending sitting almost completely flat through 2016; most trips undertaken by business people this year have been aimed at maintenance of existing overseas relationships, as opposed to more ambitious goals like expansion and creating new connections. GBTA’s Michael McCormick raises the question of whether companies will be able to easily lift themselves out of their current rut of uncertainty—even when the election is over, he argues, they may not be able to muster the will and resources to shift gears into a growth mindset again, at least not right away. Analysts predict a slightly better state of things for 2017, forecasting a 2.4% GDP growth for the US, but things likely can and will change within the next few weeks. With economic and political instability growing around the world, uncertainty is a given, and the business travel sector will need to adjust as best it can. Have you experienced any slow-downs or other effects while travelling as a result of the U.S. election?