Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of October 19th

A strong growth in coronavirus cases across the U.S. has brought renewed anxiety among travelers, dampening their travel readiness and trip plans, including for the upcoming holidays. Meanwhile, niche travel for skiing/snowboarding and conventions/group meetings still appears to be moving steadily towards recovery.

 

 

IMPORTANT:These findings are brought to you from our independent research, which is not sponsored, conducted or influenced by any advertising or marketing agency. Every week since March 15th, Destination Analysts has surveyed 1,200+ American travelers about their thoughts, feelings, perceptions and behaviors surrounding travel in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and explored a variety of topics. The findings presented below represent data collected October 16th-18th.

Key Findings to Know:

  • High concerns among American travelers’ about contracting the coronavirus and its impact on personal finances and the national economy rose this week, as numbers of cases soared across the U.S.
  • Pessimism about the course the virus will take in the U.S is now clearly on a renewed growth path.
  • While these darkening feelings did not meaningfully impact safety perceptions about travel, they did adversely affect both travel readiness and trip plans.
  • It appears that nearly 25% fewer Americans will be traveling to celebrate the holidays this year. The majority of those not traveling have a pandemic related reason for not doing so.
  • Those who will travel during the holidays are planning on taking 2.4 trips on average, with 35.4% saying they will travel by air. However, 27.8% plan to decrease their spending on these holiday trips relative to last year. Over one-third (34.8%) plan to test themselves for COVID-19 prior to their trips.
  • Nearly 40% of convention travelers say they have plans to attend a convention/group meeting event in the next year. The percent of convention travelers who report they would be happy if asked to attend such a meeting in the next six months has grown to 49.7% from 40.8% in June. Trust in both the conference organizers to institute protocols that look out for attendees’ health and fellow attendees to behave appropriately as not to spread COVID-19 has also grown significantly.
  • It is important for the travel industry to be realistic about the threat that virtual meetings pose to the volume and economic impact of this type of travel in the future. While 60% of American travelers say they prefer or strongly prefer in-person to virtual conventions/conferences, one-in-five feel neutral—fine to go either way—and another 20% say they prefer virtual.
  • Don’t forget to register to attend a full update of these findings, including a panel discussion with HR and meetings professionals, on Tuesday, October 20th at 11:00am ET

High concerns about contracting the coronavirus and its impact on personal finances and the national economy rose this week, as numbers of cases soared across nearly the entire United States.

 

 

Pessimism about the course the virus will take in the U.S is now clearly on a renewed growth path. Nearly three-quarters of American travelers feel it’s likely our country will have another wave of infections this year; less than 8% feel it’s unlikely.

 

 

These darkening feelings did not meaningfully impact safety perceptions about travel, as the average percent deeming the travel activities tracked in our study continued to decline. Openness to travel inspiration (51.7%) and excitement levels (53.8%) for a potential getaway in the near-term remained flat. However, the increased anxiety did adversely affect both travel readiness—those in a “ready to travel” state of mind decreased to a 3-week low 55.5%—and trip plans, as the percent of Americans with trips at least tentatively planned dropped back to 75% after being at 80% for the last few weeks.

 

 

The pandemic, and the current state of it, has deterred a number of Americans from holiday travel and celebrations for now. Based on reported holiday season-related travel in 2019 and what American travelers anticipate for the 2020 holiday season, it appears that nearly 25% fewer Americans will be traveling to celebrate the holidays this year. The majority of those not traveling have a pandemic related reason for not doing so, including general fear of the virus and not wanting to risk the health of loved ones. Anticipated participation in holiday traditions is down, with 46.3% of American travelers even saying they are likely to skip one or more holiday season dinner gatherings due to coronavirus safety concerns. Those who WILL travel for the holidays are planning on taking 2.4 trips on average, with 35.4% saying they will travel by air. However, 27.8% plan to decrease their spending on these holiday trips relative to last year. Over one-third (34.8%) plan to test themselves for COVID-19 prior to their trips.

 

 

During and beyond the holidays, what might the upcoming ski/snowboard season look like for travel? Of ski/snowboard travelers who have a destination they regularly visit for overnight ski/snowboard trips, 68.3% say they are likely to return to this favored destination on an overnight trip this season. Nearly 30% of these travelers also say they are open to taking a trip to new ski/snowboard destinations, as well. January (32.0%) and February (28.0%) are the top months reported for upcoming ski/snowboard trips, although 20.7% are now reporting they will take such a trip in March (up from 15.2% who reported a March ski/snowboard trip back in August). There has also been modest growth in the percent who say their ski/snowboard trips will include air travel (51.5% from 48.4% in August).

 

 

Tracking the recovery of business and convention/group meeting travel, although 71.1% of American travelers overall say they are unlikely to attend conventions until the coronavirus situation is more resolved, this metric is at one of the lowest points it has been during the pandemic. This week 15.7% of American travelers overall—and nearly 40% of convention travelers—say they have plans to attend one or more of these events in the next year, up from 11.1% in May. The percent of convention travelers who report they would be happy if asked to attend such a meeting in the next six months has grown to 49.7% from 40.8% in June. Trust in both the conference organizers to institute protocols that look out for attendees’ health and fellow attendees to behave appropriately as not to spread COVID-19 has also grown significantly.

 

However, it is important for the travel industry to be realistic about the threat that virtual meetings pose—and the level of preference being expressed for these versus in-person—to the volume and economic impact of this type of travel in the future. While 60% of American travelers say they prefer or strongly prefer in-person to virtual conventions/conferences, one-in-five feel neutral—fine to go either way—and a similar proportion say they prefer virtual. Interestingly, while Millennial and younger travelers are likelier than those in other generations to say they prefer virtual conferences (14.9%) it’s the Baby Boomers who are relatively likelier to “strongly” prefer meeting virtually (10.2%). Among those who attended a virtual convention recently, when asked to compare how satisfied they were with virtually participating compared to in-person, 71.2% reported being satisfied. Dissatisfaction was only expressed by 12.0%.

A complimentary report of these key findings is available for you to download and share.
You can register for our online presentation of these findings Tuesday at 11:00am EST.
We appreciate your support of this research from our small but mighty team of devoted tourism researchers. If you would like further and deeper insights from the complete study, you can learn more here. Please consider donating or purchasing to support this research.
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If you need shareable graphics, content for presentations, video presentations and more, please visit our COVID-19 Insights Media page here.

Advertising That Motivates Travel


 

During our industry update webinar on October 13th, Destination Analysts’ Founder & Managing Director, Dave Bratton, moderated a panel of leisure travelers to gain insight on the types and aspects of destination advertising that motivate travel right now. From their evaluation of current destination advertising, here are three key takeaways that emerged:

 

1. Leisure travelers appreciate seeing masks because it gives them the confidence that locals and visitors alike will take safety seriously. As Emma from Buena Vista, CO commented, “I spend a lot of time with my parents and my fiance’s parents who are very covid-concerned, so for me one of the big things keeping me from wanting to go travel is that I don’t want to put them at risk. But seeing advertisements with people wearing masks gives me a lot of confidence in that destination – they are taking this seriously and I won’t feel like I am putting my family at risk if I go there.” Brandi from Washington, DC shared similar feelings about the same Denver ad featuring people wearing masks: “It definitely helps me become more comfortable with even the thought of traveling. Shortly after the shut down, I learned I was going to be expecting a baby, so I have been going crazy about anti-covid mechanisms…So it is a relief to see that you can still travel and be safe as well…It definitely brings confidence if I were to even think about traveling.”

 

2. The pandemic hasn’t changed some things—leisure travelers still want to know what is absolutely unique about a destination. (And food still works! Make it look appealing.) From our thousands of qualitative in-depth interviews and focus groups, travelers consistently share that they want to know what is unique about a destination, with a common question being “What can I do there that I can’t do anywhere else?” Our recent panel reflected this very notion as they evaluated current ads for several U.S. destinations. These travelers brought up wanting to see unique facets of the destination, particularly around dining and cuisine. Additionally, content featuring food should be visually appealing. As some of these travelers commented,

“It would be really cool to see socially distanced friends enjoying food and drinking, showing what makes it [the destination] unique.”
“I love Louisiana’s food but this to me is not a lot of food, it’s not really an appealing color and neither is the way it’s framed. Considering it is such a foodie state, this to me is underwhelming.”

 

3. Advertising does get noticed and does work towards convincing people to visit a destination. When asked about receiving digital ads, these travelers shared positive reactions. Not only do they enjoy seeing digital ads, but such ads inspire ideas for future travel, oftentimes for places that they might not have otherwise considered. Kevin from Boston, MA stated, “I love getting ads, especially for the places I haven’t been to before. It kind of entices me to look into it a little bit more. Like Emma just said about the beautiful pristine beach – I would have never known that [about the destination] and now they’ve enticed me to go there.” He continued to share, “As long as it’s not overload, I don’t mind. I literally get emails everyday with travel ads and every single day, I’m clicking them and I am opening them up to see if there is a good deal or a good place I can go. I enjoy looking at them.” Particularly given the current coronavirus situation, Emma voiced her preference for travel ads over consumer products saying “We’re all stuck at home and if I am going to look at an ad, I would rather look at a vacation ad, even if only to daydream, than an ad for shoes that nobody will see me wear.”

5 Insights from Island Destination Leaders


 

Here we are in October 2020, and the novel coronavirus is still wreaking havoc on our health and economies. There have been nearly 8 million reported cases in the U.S. alone, including our own POTUS. Nevertheless, American travelers appear to feel more in control and less fearful of travel experiences, as a rising proportion report that they are in a “ready to travel” mindset, and 80% saying they have at least tentative trip plans right now . And while we remain nowhere close to pre-pandemic levels of travel, there is a growing openness to travel inspiration, although safety is decidedly a top priority in traveling consumer decisions. With the benefit of their more controlled points of entry, island destinations have been called upon to be leaders in the creation of safe travel protocols and the marketing of safe travel. They also have and continue to be enormously popular destinations (one-third of American travelers have visited an island in the past 3 years, based on the findings from most recent Coronavirus Traveler Sentiment Index). During our industry update on October 6th, Destination Analysts Senior Director of Research, Myha Gallagher, interviewed Leah Chandler, Chief Marketing Officer for Discover Puerto Rico, Erin Smith, Chief Information Officer for the Bermuda Tourism Authority, and Eduardo Elias, Product Manager for the Azores Promotion Board about how their respective destinations have adapted for travel in the time of coronavirus and what they anticipate for the future.

The following are key takeaways from this interesting and timely panel discussion.

 
Island destinations have implemented various protocols in order to safely welcome and execute travel. The most common of these protocols is for visitors to take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of boarding the plane to the island and to present proof of negative test results.

Visitors willingly comply with the protocols enforced by island destinations. So far, these island destinations have not experienced push back from visitors on the new and stringent COVID-19 protocols as they acknowledge and understand that such measures are for their own personal health and safety, as well as the health of the island population and economy.

The residence and travel party size of visitor groups have shifted compared to pre-pandemic times. In addition to changes in where visitors come from, travel groups are now smaller due to government restrictions on travel from countries with high COVID-19 cases.

Island destinations are cautiously optimistic about the comeback of cruises. As the cruise industry is significant, and arguably essential, to the economies of these island destinations, such destinations are patiently awaiting when cruises can safely return. Although taking a cruise continues to largely be perceived as unsafe among the general American traveling population, those who took cruises prior to the pandemic are far less likely to feel this way. In fact, over 13% of American travelers said they planned to take a cruise in the coming months. As such, some of these islands “are taking a very cautious approach to the gradual plan of resuming those fleet operations…we are optimistic that cruise industry and the ships are going to gradually return…in Q1 at this point.”

The greatest challenge for island marketers, and perhaps all destination marketers, is getting the right message to the right people right now. These destination marketers are seeking to identify the channels with the “right people that are ready to take that trip” and “giving them a reason to push them over the edge to making that decision.” Additional challenges island marketers face are restoring consumer confidence to travel and pushing consistent messaging around coronavirus-related safety protocols.

Tune in to the full panel discussion here:

 

 

Let the Beat Drop, Not the Mask: What We Learned From the CountOnMeNC Campaign

As consumer aspiration and demand for travel continues to express itself, there is clearly growing optimism around leisure travel. The majority of American travelers continue to report at least tentative trip plans right now and at least a quarter say that leisure travel will be an essential or high priority in their spending over the next three months. Given this, it’s ever more important to learn from our industry peers on how they have re-opened to welcome travelers.

During our industry update webinar on September 15th, Visit NC showcased the organization’s CountOnMeNC initiative designed for the purpose of a safe and full re-opening.

 

 

The CountOnMeNC program objectives are to increase resident and traveler confidence in engaging in dining, hospitality and travel activities by demonstrating businesses’ commitment to COVID-19 safety measures and to encourage consumer commitment to such measures. Over the past few weeks, American travelers surveyed in our Coronavirus Traveler Sentiment Index Study who are “confident” or “very confident” that they can travel safely right now has trended around 30%—illustrating a key opportunity to get the remaining 70% to feel confident in traveling safely.

Programs such as the CountOnMeNC campaign can certainly help boost confidence around safe travel, especially as consumers continue to show aspirations for travel. One of the campaign’s core messages is to urge residents and visitors alike to exercise the 3 W’s, all of which are preventative measures to protect oneself from, and slow the spread of, COVID-19:

1). Wear a mask
2). Wait your distance
3). Wash your hands

 

To communicate this important message, Visit NC took a creative approach and came up with this:

 

 

 

The animated video, Sunny the character and the jingle reflect how American travelers would like travel destinations to communicate to them and the tones they consider most appealing right now: friendly, fun/entertaining, honest and direct.

As clear indicators of the CountOnMeNC campaign’s success, over 14,000 training certificates from more than 3,400 state businesses have been earned and more than 10,400 consumers have taken the pledge to commit to COVID-19 safety measures. The CountOnMeNC brand is growing each day, increasing awareness that the brand represents North Carolina’s safe re-opening. State businesses associated with the brand are committed to pandemic safety measures, while travelers are assured that they can safely experience North Carolina in the current environment.

 

 

Through the CountOnMeNC initiative’s efforts in “letting the beat drop and not the mask,” Visit NC sets a great example for other destinations and shows how consumer confidence in traveling safely can ultimately be elevated.

Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of October 12th

More Americans than ever during the pandemic period are recalling travel advertising and saying these ads are making them very happy—and seeing masked travelers in travel ads is a positive. Meanwhile, airlines’ potential induction of mandatory COVID-19 tests prior to boarding looks like it will help move more hesitant travelers back to flying.

 

 

IMPORTANT: These findings are brought to you from our independent research, which is not sponsored, conducted or influenced by any advertising or marketing agency. Every week since March 15th, Destination Analysts has surveyed 1,200+ American travelers about their thoughts, feelings, perceptions and behaviors surrounding travel in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and explored a variety of topics. The findings presented below represent data collected October 9th-11th.

Key Findings to Know:

  • American travelers’ concerns about the novel coronavirus moved back up this week after decreasing last week, and with virus records occurring in the Midwest, Wisconsin has become one of the top destinations people talk about as having coronavirus issues.
  • Nevertheless, consumer aspiration and demand for travel continues to express itself. Approximately 80% of American travelers continue to report that they have at least tentative trip plans right now and at least a quarter of American travelers report that leisure travel will be an essential or high priority in their spending in the next three months.
  • More Americans than any other time during the pandemic period are now open to discounting as a travel motivator.
  • The perception of travel activities as unsafe declined again to a new pandemic period low this week, inching closer to where perceptions were March 15th.
  • More American travelers than ever during the pandemic period are now able to recall recent travel advertising and, more importantly, there has also been a 10% increase in the last three months of the number of American travelers who say the most recent travel ad they saw made them “very happy”.
  • Americans are seeking honesty but friendliness in their travel advertising; something that strikes an authoritative tone is largely seen as a turn-off.
  • Nearly 70% feel positive or very positive about seeing travelers with facemasks in travel ads, while less than 10% have a negative response.
  • In looking at trust to provide the information needed to travel safely, in addition to their friends and relatives, traveling Americans are placing the relatively highest degrees of trust in official tourism organizations, including state tourism offices and local convention & visitors bureaus.
  • In looking towards the recovery of the airline industry, among the more than 40 percent of American travelers who still feel stronger hesitation about travel, nearly 77% of this group of travelers say that mandatory COVID-19 tests prior to boarding would be important to getting them to take a flight in the next six months—demonstrating the ability of such measures to get people back to flying.

American travelers’ concerns about the novel coronavirus moved back up this week after decreasing last week, more notably fears about friends or family contracting the virus. With several Midwestern states reporting record one-day rises in cases and hospitalizations, Wisconsin has now seen an increase in the number who name the state as a top destination most talked about as having coronavirus issues. The percent of American travelers who say they are less likely to visit a place in the post-pandemic future because of their current Coronavirus-related issues has gone back up to 33.5% from 28.4% one month ago.

 

 

Nevertheless, consumer aspiration and demand for travel continues to express itself. Approximately 80% of American travelers continue to report that they have at least tentative trip plans right now and about 40% say their very next trip will take place this Fall. At least a quarter of American travelers report that leisure travel will be an essential or high priority in their spending in the next three months, on par with or even ahead of gifts for friends and relatives, online entertainment and home improvements. Excitement for potential near-term getaways and openness to travel inspiration continues slowly increasing.

 

 

In addition, more Americans than any other time during the pandemic period are now open to discounting as a travel motivator—a sign that a proportion of American travelers have now opened up to travel rather than being firmly unwilling.

 

 

More American travelers than ever during the pandemic period are now able to recall recent travel advertising and, more importantly, there has also been a 10% increase in the last three months of the number of American travelers who say the most recent travel ad they saw made them “very happy” (29.3%—while another 32.7% reported the ad made them “happy”). When asked about the tone of the travel advertising they want to see right now, Americans are seeking honesty but friendliness. In fact, something that strikes an authoritative tone is largely seen as a turn-off.

 

 

Notably, the perception of travel activities as unsafe declined again to a new pandemic period low this week, inching closer to where perceptions were March 15th. However, COVID-19 safety remains paramount to most American travelers’ trip decisions. Thus, when it comes to travel advertising, nearly 70% feel positive or very positive about seeing travelers with face masks in travel ads (after shown such an ad tested in this week’s survey), while less than 10% have a negative response.

 

 

When it comes to resources trusted to provide the information needed to travel safely, in addition to their friends and relatives, American travelers are placing the relatively highest degrees of trust in official tourism organizations, including state tourism offices and local convention & visitors bureaus. Compared to younger generations, Baby Boomers are less giving of trust to other sources. And save for government agencies, those least marketable for travel right now are also less trusting of these resources to let them know it’s safe to travel, while those most marketable for travel are generally more trusting of these sources.

 

In looking towards the recovery of the airline industry, we asked American travelers how important certain COVID-19 protocols potentially instituted by the airlines would be to getting them to take a flight in the next six months. Approximately 80 percent of American travelers said mandatory face masks and enforced social distancing would be important or very important to their decision to travel by air. Two-thirds considered other protocols such as testing and temperature checks to be important or very important. However, among the more than 40 percent of American travelers who still feel stronger hesitation about travel, nearly 77% of this group of travelers say that mandatory COVID-19 tests prior to boarding would be important to getting them to take a flight in the next six months—demonstrating the ability of such measures to get people back to flying.

A complimentary report of these key findings is available for you to download and share.
You can register for our online presentation of these findings Tuesday at 11:00am EST.
We appreciate your support of this research from our small but mighty team of devoted tourism researchers. If you would like further and deeper insights from the complete study, you can learn more here. Please consider donating or purchasing to support this research.
To make sure you receive notifications of our latest findings, you can sign up here.
If you need shareable graphics, content for presentations, video presentations and more, please visit our COVID-19 Insights Media page here.

Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of October 5th

Despite growing pessimism and the President’s diagnosis, willingness to travel continues to improve, business travel resumption has increased and urban destinations appear poised for a comeback. For those Americans still engaging in travel avoidance, the wide distribution of an effective COVID-19 vaccine is far and away their top ranked condition for being comfortable traveling again.

 

 

IMPORTANT: These findings are brought to you from our independent research, which is not sponsored, conducted or influenced by any advertising or marketing agency. Every week since March 15th, Destination Analysts has surveyed 1,200+ American travelers about their thoughts, feelings, perceptions and behaviors surrounding travel in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and explored a variety of topics. The findings presented below represent data collected October 2nd-4th.

Key Findings to Know:

  • The September jobs report and the President’s announcement of his COVID-19 diagnosis did not appear to heighten American travelers’ concerns, with the percent of American travelers with high degrees of concern about personally contracting the coronavirus decreasing to 68.0% and personal financial concerns dropping to a 30-week low.
  • Despite growing pessimism about the pandemic’s course over the next month, Americans’ perceptions of travel’s safety, their confidence in traveling safely and their readiness to travel continued to improve, and over 40% anticipate their next trip will take place before the end of the year.
  • As in pre-pandemic times, Florida, Las Vegas, Hawaii, New York and California dominate the hot list of where Americans want to go, although outdoor-brand destinations like Colorado, Utah and North Carolina continue to displace some iconic cities for top spots.
  • Nevertheless, urban destinations appear now poised for a comeback, with well over one-third of American travelers describing the destination they most want to visit in the next year as a city/metropolitan area.
  • For those still engaging in travel avoidance, the wide distribution of an effective COVID-19 vaccine is far and away their top ranked condition for being comfortable traveling again. Unfortunately, willingness to take a vaccine that is developed in the next few months has declined somewhat among the general American traveling population.
  • Looking for indicators of business travel’s recovery, 26.7% of American travelers who work for companies in which employees travel for business say that this travel has started again, up from 24.2% one month ago. However, among those whose companies are not yet back to business travel, now well more than half expect that it won’t be until after April that it resumes.

The President’s announcement of his COVID-19 diagnosis did not appear to heighten American travelers’ concerns about contracting the virus as of yet. In fact, the percent of American travelers with high degrees of concern about personally contracting the coronavirus decreased to 68.0% from 70.9% one week ago. American travelers also appeared largely unfazed by the September jobs report, as personal financial concerns dropped to a 30-week low. However, expectations for the pandemic’s course in the next month darkened—now 47.5% feel it will get worse, up from 43% last week.

 

 

The growing pessimism about the virus did not seem to impair Americans’ travel plans. As comfort heading out for leisure activities within their own communities is the highest it has been since March 15th, the perception of the safety of travel activities also continued to improve and 30.9% feel confident or very confident they can travel safely in the current environment. After dropping for the last two weeks, the proportion in a “ready to travel” state of mind returned to 56.5%. Over 40% of American travelers anticipate their next trip will take place before the end of the year. In addition, nearly 60% feel that having a vacation planned for sometime in the next six months will bring them happiness.

 

 

Exploring where Americans want to travel to domestically as they look out over their next 12 months, the hot list looks more like it did pre-pandemic—with Florida, Las Vegas, Hawaii, New York and California dominating—although outdoor-brand destinations like Colorado, Utah and North Carolina continue to displace some iconic cities for top spots. Nevertheless, urban destinations appear now poised for a comeback, with well over one-third of American travelers describing the destination they most want to visit in the next year as a city/metropolitan area. The pandemic will still likely weigh on destination decisions for some time, as when asked what was important to their desires to visit specific places, traditional attributes like affordable and popular are joined by low rates of COVID-19, mask-wearing and social distancing. In terms of how American travelers can be reached, search engine and content marketing, email and social media are prime, in addition to printed resources such as travel/lifestyle magazines and visitors guides.

 

 

As the travel industry looks to recover, still some 53.0% of American travelers continue to agree they will engage in some travel avoidance. Information may play an important part in this, as these travel avoiders are not highly satisfied with the information available to travelers to help them decide when it is safe to travel, rating their satisfaction level a 5.8/10 on average. They place the highest degree of trust in information and guidance on travel safety from doctors and scientific experts.

 

 

However, for those still engaging in travel avoidance, the wide distribution of an effective COVID-19 vaccine is far and away their top ranked condition for being comfortable traveling again. Unfortunately, willingness to take a vaccine that is developed in the next few months has declined somewhat among the general American traveling population to 41.5% from 44.1% three weeks ago.

 

 

Looking for indicators of business travel’s recovery, 26.7% of American travelers who work for companies in which employees travel for business say that this travel has started again, up from 24.2% one month ago. However, among those whose companies are not yet back to business travel, just 6.1% report that their employer has announced a timeline for return. While about a quarter anticipate their company’s business travel to return by January, now well more than half expect that it won’t be until after April.

A complimentary report of these key findings is available for you to download and share.
You can register for our online presentation of these findings Tuesday at 11:00am EST.
We appreciate your support of this research from our small but mighty team of devoted tourism researchers. If you would like further and deeper insights from the complete study, you can learn more here. Please consider donating or purchasing to support this research.
To make sure you receive notifications of our latest findings, you can sign up here.
If you need shareable graphics, content for presentations, video presentations and more, please visit our COVID-19 Insights Media page here.

In Case You Missed it: A Discussion with Black Travel Content Creators

During Destination Analysts’ industry update webinar on September 29th, Destination DC’s Senior VP, Marketing & Communications, Robin McClain, interviewed an incredibly talented panel of Black travel content creators—Kerwin McKenzie, Ime Umoh and Kareemah Ashiru—to understand how destination marketing organizations and travel brands could learn from their experiences and work with them. Here is the full panel discussion in case you missed it and below the video are five key takeaways that emerged from this fruitful and in-depth discussion:

 

 

1. The creative work produced by Black travel content creators is largely influenced by their background and ethnicity. While each panelist shared that their approach to creating content for Black travelers varies, their work is nonetheless influenced by their background and ethnicity. Kareemah, who is a Black Muslim, creates content specifically focused on “Muslim travel-related stories from African countries” and “Black Muslims in America” with her audience being Muslims from all over the world. Meanwhile, Nigerian-American filmmaker Ime creates visual content intended to “really tell that story ‘hey if you look like me you can be here too.’” Each time he creates a video or photograph, Ime considers the Black community and the Africans of the Diaspora so that they can “finally be able to see and picture themselves in these destinations” that he travels to. Kerwin is a travel expert with a background in the airline industry who produces content focused on “the [travel] journey and also trying to make it as comfortable as possible” for his readers. He describes his work as “trying to show travel from my perspective and I just happen to be a Black person.”

 

2. Discussions around diversity and inclusion should be constant and continuous, rather than confined to a moment in time. While the tragic deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor catalyzed a social awakening to be more conscious and mindful of the Black experience, there was an expressed skepticism that discussions about the Black experience could be a trending topic. According to Kareemah, “It’s great that companies and organizations are discussing it. I think that is the first step to progress, but we don’t want it to seem like ‘okay this is what is cool to talk about right now.’ We want it to be a continuous thing, not ‘this is Black history month so let’s start packing in all this Black content.’ We want it to be year-round and included at all times, not particular to a moment or specific event.” Furthermore, Ime posed questions around authentic versus performative efforts to work with Black content creators. He urged other Black content creators to “do due diligence to vet companies that want to work with you” to assess whether such opportunities are inspired by genuine motivations or are simply reactionary to current events.

 

3. Celebrating and promoting work with Black content creators shows dedication to equity and inclusion efforts. In addition to having conversations and discussions, businesses and organizations dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion should celebrate Black partners they work with. As shared by Kareemah, “If you are working with us let that show on your website…it shows that the organization is dedicated to working with us and including us in their story and their mission.”

 

4. Another way for organizations to communicate their dedication to diversity, equity and inclusion is to look internally. Kerwin advised taking a close look at the content organizations produce to ensure that such content is inclusive and appealing. He also recommended having people on staff who are reflective of target audiences: “Get people on your staff who look like us.” From the many Black leisure travelers we directly hear from in Destination Analysts’ qualitative focus groups and in-depth interviews, common sentiments are “I want to see that there are people who look like me” and “I want to know that I’m welcome there.”

 

5. Black travel content creators are easy to find. They can be found on social media and through online research. A valuable resource is the Black Travel Alliance, which sends regular email newsletters around how they are impacting equality. As a founding board member of the Black Travel Alliance, Kerwin shared that he and his team will be developing a membership directory of Black content creators that travel brands can work with. And lastly, in the words of Ime, being “proactive rather than reactive” is another way to find Black content creators, with this panel discussion being a great example of how to be proactive in reaching and working with them.

 

Here is the contact information for each of the panelists in case you’d like to connect with them directly:

Kerwin McKenzie
Website: www.passrider.com/work-with-me
Email: Mskonfa@hotmail.com
Phone: +1 (202) 525-6847

Ime Umoh | Video Creator & Editor | Baltimore, MD
Website: https://ptbutton.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ahmay_ahmoo/
Let’s Connect!: https://calendly.com/ptbutton/lets-connect
Email: ime.umoh@ptbutton.com
Phone: +1 (443) 927-5866

Kareemah Ashiru
Website: https://www.hijabiglobetrotter.com/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/kareemahashiru
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hijabiglobetrotter/
Email: kareemahashiru@gmail.com or contact@hijabiglobetrotter.com
Phone: +1 (419) 690-6396

Traveler Confidence Increases With Each Successful Trip

 

 

Although three-quarters (76.0%) of American travelers reported that the COVID-19 situation has affected their travels since the start of the pandemic, over one-tenth (12.1%) reported that they are already traveling according to our weekly Coronavirus Traveler Sentiment Index Study. During our industry update webinar on September 22nd, Destination Analysts’ Founder and Managing Director, Dave Bratton, interviewed a panel of summer travelers who took a trip during the pandemic to explore what could be learned about their recent travels and how their experience affects their confidence in traveling safely in this environment. Here is what we found:

When a traveler successfully completes a trip, their confidence for future travel increases. In fact, those who are “Already traveling” have nearly three times the confidence level in their ability to travel safely right now compared to the average American traveler.

 

 

However, the virus was still present in their mind space while traveling. “The virus was always on our minds, we were doing the same things in Boston (travel destination) that we do in New York (home), wearing the masks, the hand sanitizer, staying away from people as much as possible so it was always on our minds but at least it was a different place.” Even so, these travelers still managed to have a “wonderful trip” and found the experience to be “restorative” and “fun.”

These pandemic-era travelers were not travel shamed by their peers per se, but did express feeling some post-travel guilt. “Nobody said you’re out of your mind to be traveling” but they were still hesitant to share and show off their travel experiences with friends and family. As word-of-mouth recommendations both direct and via social media has historically been one of the top sources of travel inspiration for Americans, it appears early re-adoptors of travel may need to look elsewhere to gain inspiration on where to take their next trip, at least until the coronavirus situation is more resolved.

When it comes to their choice of airlines, these pandemic travelers seek out companies that are taking extra precautions to keep their customers safe, such as keeping middle seats empty. “I have now sought out airlines that specifically remove the middle seat for my other trips that I have taken since then, so it’s definitely that experience that changed how I am booking now for future travel.”

Although traveling during the pandemic has increased their own confidence in being able to do so safely, they are not overly optimistic about travel readiness increasing across the American traveling population right now. “I don’t think things will change until there is an effective vaccine that has been widely applied to people, I don’t think the application will really start till mid 2021.” In the meantime it appears that these early re-adoptors to travel will continue to plan and take trips, while still being mindful of taking the necessary precautions to keep themselves and others safe while doing so. “With or without a vaccine you have got to keep living! That is the way I look at it.”

Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of September 28th

Although COVID-19 concerns are rising, nearly two-thirds of American travelers plan to take a trip this Fall, including some notable interest in workcations and schoolcations.

 

 

IMPORTANT: These findings are brought to you from our independent research, which is not sponsored, conducted or influenced by any advertising or marketing agency. Every week since March 15th, Destination Analysts has surveyed 1,200+ American travelers about their thoughts, feelings, perceptions and behaviors surrounding travel in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and explored a variety of topics. The findings presented below represent data collected September 25th-27th.

Key Findings to Know:

  • After a month-long period of relatively lower levels of anxiety, the number of Americans with high degrees of concerns about contracting the coronavirus rose this week. Similarly, after a stable period in expectations for the virus’ course, the percent of Americans who feel things will get worse in the U.S. in the next month increased.
  • These rising concerns appear to be affecting confidence that travel can be done safely and perceptions of travel. The percent in a “ready to travel” mindset fell to 52.2% after being above 54% for the last month.
  • Nevertheless, three-quarters of American travelers continue to report having at least tentative trip plans—primarily over the next 6 months—as well as exhibit a perception of travel as a means to meet their emotional needs. The percent that agree price cuts and discounts can motivate them to consider a new trip is as high as it has been during the pandemic.
  • Looking at American travelers’ specific expectations for Fall, nearly two-thirds expect to travel this season, and these travelers anticipate taking 1.7 overnight trips on average. The top motivations for these Fall trips are relaxation, spending time with family and escapism, although younger travelers are also likely to be seeking connecting with nature and having new experiences.
  • Nearly 40% of likely Fall travelers say they will visit a small town or rural area on their Fall trips, with beach visitation less likely than in the summer months and urban travel increasing.
  • Interest in workcations among those who can work remotely and schoolcations among parents who travel with children is at similar levels—just under half have a more elevated degree of interest. In total, 52.2% of those interested in schoolcations reported some likelihood to take one this Fall, while 46.0% of those interested in workcations said they were likely to actually take one in these coming months.
  • American travelers’ comfort with enjoying their own communities for leisure activities and having tourists visit their regions are at pandemic period highs.

It’s officially Fall and Americans are increasingly hearing predictions and plans for the coming months while we remain in a global pandemic. After a month-long period of the lowest levels of concerns since May, the number of Americans with high degrees of concerns about contracting the coronavirus rose this week. Similarly, after a stable period in expectations for the virus’ course, the percent of Americans who feel things will get worse in the U.S. in the next month increased to 43.0% from 38.3% the week prior, and the percent who feel things will get better decreased to 21.3%.

 

 

These rising concerns appear to be affecting confidence that travel can be done safely and perceptions of travel. While the majority of American travelers do not view several core travel activities—such as staying in a hotel or going to a restaurant—as unsafe, the overall average “unsafe” rating of the two dozen travel activities we track has ticked up this week to 53.7%. Now 26.5% of American travelers are confident or very confident they can travel safely, down from 30.5% last week. After dropping below 40% for the last three weeks, 41.1% of American travelers now have some agreement they need a vaccine to travel. And the percent in a “ready to travel” mindset fell to 52.2% after being above 54% for the last month.

 

 

Nevertheless, three-quarters of American travelers continue to report having at least tentative trip plans—primarily over the next 6 months—as well as exhibit a perception of travel as a means to meet their emotional needs. Over 57% of American travelers agree that having a vacation scheduled in the next six months would make them feel there is something happy to look forward to. And another indicator that travel can be inspired under the right conditions is that the percent that agree price cuts and discounts can motivate them to consider a new trip is as high as it has been during the pandemic.

 

 

Looking at American travelers’ specific expectations for Fall, nearly two-thirds expect to travel this season, and these travelers anticipate taking 1.7 overnight trips on average. Citing what is keeping them from traveling even more than this, COVID-19 safety concerns—and relatedly, social pressure—is expectedly principal. The top motivations for these Fall trips are relaxation, spending time with family and escapism, although younger travelers are also likely to be seeking connecting with nature and having new experiences. Nearly 40% of likely Fall travelers say they will visit a small town or rural area on their Fall trips, with beach visitation less likely than in the summer months and urban travel increasing. Over a quarter of these likely Fall travelers—and nearly one-third of those Millennial or younger—plan to travel by airplane. As in summer, about a third expect to stay in a friend or relative’s home on these trips but hotels and other paid lodging options will be most common. While 41.9% report they will be more budget conscious on their Fall trips, dining out in restaurants, shopping and visiting outdoor attractions are among the top planned trip activities.

 

 

With nearly 60% of American travelers we surveyed reporting they can work remotely and many children remaining in online school, this week we looked into workcations—travel where people visit a vacation destination while still working remotely—and schoolcations—travel where students can vacation with their families while attending classes online. Interest in workcations among those who can work remotely and schoolcations among parents who travel with children is at similar levels—just under half have a more elevated degree of interest. In total, 52.2% of those interested in schoolcations reported some likelihood to take one this Fall, while 46.0% of those interested in workcations said they were likely to actually take one in these coming months. When asked to describe the ideal characteristics of a destination for these types trips, a beach/lake/waterfront location are of strong interest. For potential workcationers, they are seeking reliable high speed internet in relaxing and even remote environments. For potential schoolcationers, a destination that is fun while also peaceful is optimal.

 

 

Looking closer to home, American travelers’ comfort with enjoying their own communities for leisure activities is the highest it has been since March 15th. American travelers are also the most comfortable with tourism to their own regions than they have been in the pandemic—although 52.2% still agree they don’t want tourists visiting right now.

A complimentary report of these key findings is available for you to download and share.
You can register for our online presentation of these findings Tuesday at 11:00am EST.
We appreciate your support of this research from our small but mighty team of devoted tourism researchers. If you would like further and deeper insights from the complete study, you can learn more here. Please consider donating or purchasing to support this research.
To make sure you receive notifications of our latest findings, you can sign up here.
If you need shareable graphics, content for presentations, video presentations and more, please visit our COVID-19 Insights Media page here.

Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of September 21st

As Americans’ daily stress levels have recently increased, there will be a greater prioritization of having new experiences, escaping boredom and simply finding joy. Openness to travel—and feeling they will have a good time doing it—continues to bloom.

 

 

IMPORTANT: These findings are brought to you from our independent research, which is not sponsored, conducted or influenced by any advertising or marketing agency. Every week since March 15th, Destination Analysts has surveyed 1,200+ American travelers about their thoughts, feelings, perceptions and behaviors surrounding travel in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and explored a variety of topics. The findings presented below represent data collected September 18th-20th.

Key Findings to Know:

  • Nearly half of American travelers feel a high degree of stress in their daily lives. But while stress is up compared to a few months ago, the propensity to worry about coronavirus is down.
  • Since April, and amidst rising stress, more Americans are reporting stronger prioritization of relaxation, finding joy/happiness, and—especially important for travel—having new experiences.
  • Those who are already traveling (or ready to without hesitation) are far likelier to be prioritizing finding joy and escaping from boredom in their lives over the next six months compared to other Americans.
  • Openness to travel continues to bloom. The level of excitement for learning about new travel experiences or destinations to visit is at a pandemic-period high—one last obtained at the end of May.
  • Unlike early on in the pandemic, now less than 50% of American travelers consider staying in a hotel, Airbnb or home rental, dining in a restaurant, visiting an amusement park or other outdoor attraction, recreating outdoors and shopping to be unsafe. Overall perceptions of travel’s safety remain at the lowest levels they have been during the pandemic.
  • Now just 37% agree they need a vaccine to travel, down from a high of 45% at the start of August.
  • Half as many Americans are saying they are going to change the types of travel destinations they choose to visit post-pandemic than in April, and among those that are saying they will indeed change the types of destinations they choose to visit, more positive reasons are being offered up as to why than in prior months, including an increased willingness to explore new destinations and crossing places off their bucket lists.
  • Americans are also less likely to feel their leisure travel will be dampened by the current state of things.

 

As it has several other times during the pandemic, our research offers a deeper look into the mindset of American travelers right now, with the objective of helping the travel industry best address its customers’ most fundamental needs.

 

If you regularly feel an abundance of stress right now, you are among many other Americans: 47% feel a high degree of stress in their daily lives. Be it from managing distance learning for children to navigating extreme weather, Americans are a little likelier to be keeping themselves up at night and feeling tired than they were a few months ago. While stress is up, the propensity to worry about coronavirus, however, is down.

 

 

Our research also revisited Americans’ lifestyle priorities to see if any shifts occurred. Since April, and amidst rising stress, more Americans are reporting stronger prioritization of relaxation, finding joy/happiness, and—especially important for travel—having new experiences. Whether GenZ, Millennial, GenX or Baby Boomer, the generations are all in agreement on the prioritization of emotional well being, in addition to relaxation and finding joy/happiness. While staying safe from infection is also a top lifestyle priority across the board, it has nevertheless declined, most notably for Boomers, who have instead increased their focus on relaxation. Among Millennial and younger age travelers, escaping from stress and connecting with others are not quite as strongly priorities as was felt in August, instead returning back to May levels. GenX-age travelers are the likeliest to be prioritizing connecting with nature as they look out over the next six months of their lives. Perhaps of most importance, those who are already traveling (or ready to without hesitation) are far likelier to be prioritizing finding joy and escaping from boredom compared to other Americans.

 

 

With these patterns in both continued and shifting lifestyle priorities, openness to travel continues to bloom. As has been for the last month, over 54% of Americans identify with being in a “ready to travel” mindset versus needing more time. American travelers’ level of excitement for learning about new travel experiences or destinations to visit is at a pandemic-period high—one last (and only other time) obtained at the end of May, at the start of the summer season.

 

 

Unlike early on in the pandemic, now less than 50% of American travelers consider staying in a hotel, Airbnb or home rental, dining in a restaurant, visiting an amusement park or other outdoor attraction, recreating outdoors and shopping to be unsafe. Overall perceptions of travel’s safety remain at the lowest levels they have been during the pandemic. Over half of American travelers continue to say they are at least somewhat confident they can travel safely in this environment. Now just 37% agree they need a vaccine to travel, down from a high of 45% at the start of August.

 

 

With these growing feelings of safety surrounding travel, less Americans are saying they are going to change the types of travel destinations they choose to visit post-pandemic. In April nearly 40% of American travelers agreed they would change the destinations they traveled to, now less than 20% do—a 50% decrease. In addition, among those that are saying they will change the types of destinations they choose to visit, more positive reasons are being offered up as to why than in prior months, including an increased willingness to explore new destinations and crossing places off their bucket lists.

 

 

Finally, Americans are also less likely to feel their leisure travel will be dampened by the current state of things. This week, 56.8% agreed that if they were to travel now for leisure, they would not be able to fully enjoy it, down from 60.5% at the end of July. And now just 43.1% have some agreement with the statement “I have lost my interest in/taste for traveling for the time being,” down from 49.5%.

 

 

A complimentary report of these key findings is available for you to download and share.
You can register for our online presentation of these findings Tuesday at 11:00am EST.
We appreciate your support of this research from our small but mighty team of devoted tourism researchers. If you would like further and deeper insights from the complete study, you can learn more here. Please consider donating or purchasing to support this research.
To make sure you receive notifications of our latest findings, you can sign up here.
If you need shareable graphics, content for presentations, video presentations and more, please visit our COVID-19 Insights Media page here.