A new study from the National Business Travel Association claims the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day won't have much of an effect on business travel. If they have the budget, business travelers are going to hit the road, no matter the threats or obstacles in the form of increased security measures. That's a truism few can argue with.
The story is profoundly different, however, for leisure travel, which is the bread-and-butter business for many hotels, and not just those in resort areas. The occasional traveler (us road warriors refer to them as "the amateurs") is much more skittish when it comes to threats of terrorism. In times of stress, Mom and Pop and the kids are more likely to stick close to home, which is bad news for the already-hurting hotel industry. Another wild card is the foreign leisure traveler. In the early 1990s, just before the Kuwait war, the Japanese government foolishly advised its populace to not travel, a development that crushed the Hawaiian tourist market for months.
God forbid, but another terrorist attack, even a half-assed attempt like we saw last month, could unleash widespread fear and hysteria among would-be travelers. Unfortunately, all we can do as an industry is pray it doesn't happen.