The summer of discontent is here. During the past few months it appears as if the world has turned sideways. Or maybe upside down.
But the strangest thing is happening: People are not going "Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs." In fact, it seems as if all the negative headlines, terrorist incidents and mass shootings are having no deleterious impact on the hotel industry.
Are You Spooked?
By now, I would have expected a good number of travelers to be unnerved by the notion of getting out and exploring the world, but it seems people have either grown accustomed to our modern-day horrors, or they’re taking a “this will never happen to me” approach.
I'm, then, left wondering if there can even be a black swan event that will disrupt hospitality like it did 15 years ago on 9/11. (History lesson! The phrase "black swan event" was coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a finance professor, writer and former Wall Street trader.)
The lodging industry still must do its part to continue promoting travel, even against the ever-darkening cloud of terrorism, disease and political unrest.
Yet, my biggest concern for the state of hospitality is not the potential of yet another terrorist attack or mass shooting incident. It’s not irrational fear (for the vast majority of our population) caused by a mosquito bite, and it is certainly not Brexit—coincidentally my least favorite meal of the day.
I am downright spooked at political fearmongering and the absolute hysteria its causing in certain corners of the country during this election cycle.
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any political party, nor have I ever been. Neither the left or right appeal to me because both sides are too extreme for my belief system. I am firmly in the middle. My biggest concern is doing my part to ensure the hospitality industry stays healthy and vibrant by poking and prodding as an observer.
What I’m seeing is a dangerous cloud forming for the travel industry. It's not the huge black swan event pundits like to make disclaimers about, but the culmination of a series of smaller happenings that’s leading the country down the road toward isolationism and financial self-destruction.
The hotel industry must fight back against irrational fear that foreigners are here to take our jobs and do us harm in aggregate. For a country built on immigrants, its simply illogical and plays on fears that have no place in modern society. I know the United States has a long and rich history of hating the newest group of immigrants, but we can be smarter than reacting to base instincts that make us fear people that look or act different than us.
Isolationism Is Not The Answer
There's been a history of hatred toward certain groups in America. Look what happened to Japanese Americans during WWII: a total departure from what our values are supposed to be. Hitting closer to home, immigrants from India were met with full-bore racism when they arrived during the 1970s.
All this talk of building walls, and ending partnerships with other countries through our visa waiver programs will only have one outcome: ruining your life. The more this country tries to extricate itself from a global community, the fewer people will travel here and support your businesses.
Travelers from other countries stay longer in hotels and spend more than Americans. And as the middle class around the world grows, the upside potential for people coming into the United States soars.
And trade with other countries is helping to create that middle class who then spends their money with American businesses.
Don’t Fall For It
It’s paramount we fight back against political fearmongering stoking irrational fear. It’s solely meant to scare people into voting a particular way, and that way has the very real potential to ruin your businesses. It’s time to put the love and vitality of hospitality first and speak out against the ill-conceived isolationist movement.
We cannot in good conscious as Americans and business owners allow it. As we celebrate our country on July 4, seriously consider the ramifications of what will happen if we do pull back from the global stage.
What did your 401K have for Brexit this morning?
So do I deserve a flailing for this point of view? Perhaps I nailed it? Drop me a line here at [email protected] Or find me on Twitter @TravelingGlenn.
Glenn Haussman is editor-at-large for HOTEL MANAGEMENT. His views expressed are not necessarily those of HOTEL MANAGEMENT, its parent company Questex Media Group, and/or its subsidiaries.