Earlier this year, before the presidential campaign became the hot mess it is now, Sports Destination Management posted an online poll that asked the following question: “Controversial legislation concerning potential sports destinations has been in the news. Would it influence your site selection?” A whopping 60 percent of you said it “very much” would, while nearly 27 percent said it “somewhat” would. About 13 percent of you didn’t have an answer, but none of you said “not at all.”
That’s why we weren’t surprised when Meeting Professionals International recently released the findings of its quarterly survey of senior-level meeting planners and suppliers. The “Summer 2016 Outlook” revealed that many destination decisions are motivated by politics.
As reported by Meetings and Conventions:
• 30 percent of respondents are avoiding cities and states with laws prohibiting universal restroom use.
• 27 percent say political elections have a significant influence on meetings and events.
• 19 percent are avoiding locations with more liberal handgun or weapons laws.
In another survey conducted by Meetings and Conventions in June, 212 respondents were asked “Do or will laws concerning the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people affect your site-selection decisions?” Nearly half (49 percent) answered “absolutely.”
“The power of organizers and planners to relocate business due to political rulings that are deemed discriminatory is a formidable statement to local governments and bureaucrats,” wrote Kevin Iwamoto, a senior consultant for Goldspring Consulting, an independent travel consultancy based in North Carolina — a state with its fair share of political fallout lately. “At minimum, moving any large to mega-size event, sporting game, conference, etc., means a loss of millions of dollars in local and state tax revenues, plus the loss of revenue for local and state venues, hotels, restaurants, taxis, Uber and Lyft, retail shopping outlets and more.”
With Election Day less than a week away, what will November’s results mean for the sports destination business? It’s no exaggeration when we say the whole world is watching.