Coming off of a record year in 2015, Caribbean hotel occupancy in 2016 has declined every month so far this year compared to last according to the folks at STR. Blame it on Zika, AirBnB, Brexit, Cuba or the airlines if you like, but there is something else at work this year – the US Presidential election.

Every four years the elections are regularly blamed for poor hotel performance with no real hard evidence other than, “people like to stay close to home.” This year is different.

noun_246303_ccIn less than one month the American public will have to choose a new leader from two of the most disliked presidential candidates ever up for election. Last month Clinton and Trump were drowning in underwater personal ratings of -11 points and -27 points respectively meaning more people dislike than like both of them.

Americans are getting tired of the whole process – over a year of name calling, unfounded accusations, half-truths and outright lies, leaked tapes, emails and documents and the whole darn mess. But worst of all they are growing increasingly anxious about the economy and their current financial situation.

And who likes to travel when they feel financially insecure? According to the latest Marketplace-Edison Research Poll released just a few days ago:

“More Americans are increasingly worried about saving for retirement and the ability to pay their mortgage or rent. Thirty percent of Americans are very fearful they will lose their job in the next six months, up from 10 percent a year ago. And 39 percent of Americans say their personal financial situation actually causes them to lose sleep.”

What is really interesting is the US economy is in the midst of the longest economic recovery ever according to Morgan Stanley. Admittedly this has not been the most robust recovery ever and in fact it has been one of the weakest on record.

Still it is a recovery. But you wouldn’t know it from listening to the two candidates and their prescriptions to (heaven help us) “fix it.”

Lucky for all of us in hospitality the election will be over in three weeks. Hopefully the rhetoric will subside, people will feel less financial anxiety and start traveling more.

Then again, in this age of Twitter, you never know.

Thanks to Hadi Davodpour, IR at the Noun Project for the drowning image.

AUTHOR: Madigan Pratt

Madigan Pratt is President of MP&A Digital & Advertising, an award-winning agency helping luxury hotels attract and retain profitable customers. Principals with over 60 years of collective experience at some of the world's largest advertising and direct marketing companies lead the agency's team of marketing, creative, public relations, Internet and social media professionals.

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