The global membership of the Association of Corporate Travel Executives regards the second version of a US travel ban as less threatening, yet the order, signed into effect on Monday, 6 March, 2017, may still be a public relations misstep for the United States travel industry. According to a new survey conducted by ACTE, there was less shock and surprise generated by the new restrictions, though a suspicion of the ban process lingers.
“The global business travel industry had been waiting for the new travel ban, so the issue carried less shock and surprise the second time around,” said ACTE executive director Greeley Koch. “Our response rate to this second travel ban survey was much slower, indicating the industry had time to prepare for the announcement. Eighty-four per cent of respondents indicated they were familiar with the provisions of the new ban within hours of its signing. This is a dramatic difference from the blindsiding they got a month ago.”
Business travel managers were almost evenly divided on the question, “Will the provisions of the new US travel ban pose travel difficulties for your company?” Forty-five per cent responded “yes,” with six per cent of those citing significant difficulties. Fifty per cent claimed “no difficulties,” with five per cent claiming “the question did not apply.”
Sixty-six per cent of respondents claimed that the new travel ban had not caused their company to rethink conducting business with the US … But 21 per cent said these bans were causing their company to reconsider doing business within the US, with four per cent of these claiming the reconsideration was significant.
Ninety-one per cent of responding business travel managers stated their companies had not cancelled meetings in the US for locations abroad; while 9 percent indicated their companies had. ACTE is convening the first global travel conference of 2017 in New York City — April 23-25, 2017 — and international bookings are up over last year for a similar event.
“Though the numbers clearly indicate that there is no change in travel, nor travel planning, for the majority of companies doing business in the US, a seed has been planted within 21 per cent of survey respondents,” said Mr Koch. “The US does not need any excuse for companies to prefer travel to other countries. Ultimately, we are talking about jobs here. Jobs at the airports, in hotels, in surface transportation, and in restaurants. The business travel community is weighing the benefits of this ban against its more obvious liabilities.”
Even though the previous US travel ban was suspended, 22 percent of respondents reported their travellers were still experiencing delays or harassment crossing US borders, with one percent claiming significant delays or harassment. Recent ACTE events in Singapore and Canada generated strong concerns regarding the ban. Association officials in Canada stated that Canadian-born passport holders were being delayed and turned back at the border. “This is prejudicing an uncounted number of leisure travellers from considering the US as a primary destination. We don’t want it to spread to business travellers.” said Mr Koch. “Once started, this can be a difficult process to reverse.”
A final question put to US-based companies asked: Has the previous ban or the new announcement heightened your threat awareness when traveling abroad? Fifty-five percent said “yes,” with 15 percent of these citing awareness levels as “significant.”
“And that conclusion is significant too, especially with regard to duty of care,” said Mr Koch.
1) Are you familiar with the provisions of this new US travel ban?
1. Yes = 84%
2. No = 16%
2) Will the provisions of the new US travel ban pose travel difficulties for your company?
1. Yes = 39%
2. Yes, significantly = 6%
3. No = 50%
4. Does not apply = 5%
3) Have the recent developments of the US travel ban caused your company to rethink conducting business with the US?
1. Yes, somewhat = 17%
2. Yes significantly = 4%
3. No = 66%
4. Does not apply = 13%
4) Has your company recently cancelled meetings in the US for locations abroad?
1. Yes = 9%
2. No = 91%
5) Have your travellers reported delays or harassment crossing the US border since the last ban was announced?
1. Yes, somewhat = 21%
2. Yes, significantly = 1%
3. No = 78%
6) For companies with US-based travellers: Has the previous ban or the new announcement heightened your threat awareness when traveling abroad?
1. Yes, somewhat = 41%
2. Yes, significantly = 14%
3. No = 45%
Four hundred global business travel managers (executives responsible for creating, implementing, and monitoring corporate travel programs) were polled by email for this survey. One hundred twenty-five (31 per cent) responded in 19-hour period, on a business day.