Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of July 27th

Travel Sentiment and Pandemic Etiquette Improved Somewhat this Week, but the Stress is Putting Americans in a Travel Funk.

 

 

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 July 24th-26th.

Key Findings to Know:

  • A few important travel metrics positively increased this week: excitement for near-term travel, openness to travel inspiration, and the number who say they will take a trip in 2020.
  • 18.2% of American travelers anticipate their next road will be in August.
  • The profile of those that recently traveled by air skews younger, urban dwellers that typically traveled for business and conventions in the pre-pandemic period.
  • Those that have recently traveled by air largely rate their experience with the health and safety protocols implemented by their airline and the airports as satisfactory.
  • More Americans are now agreeing with pandemic etiquette and say they will practice it when traveling, including wearing a face mask.
  • Nevertheless, the marked stress Americans are feeling during the pandemic remains a parasite on travel morale.
  • Overall, half of American travelers agree they have lost their taste for travel for the time being—a feeling more pronounced in Baby Boomers and those in the West and Northeast.

Despite 61.5% of American travelers feeling that the pandemic will worsen in the US over the next month, there was positive improvement in some travel sentiment metrics this week. Higher excitement levels for near-term travel increased to 47.9% from 41.1%, and greater degrees of openness to travel inspiration grew to 45.2% from 36.6%. Now 55.4% say they have at least tentative trip plans for the remainder of 2020, up from 53.3%. Looking at the anticipated timing of their next trips, 18.2% of American travelers expect they may take their next road in August.

 

 

While the majority of Americans report taking their next trip by air in 2021, those that have recently traveled by air (11.3%) largely rate their experience from a health and safety protocol standpoint as positive. Three-quarters of these recent air travelers said they were satisfied with the coronavirus safety protocols put in place by the airline(s) and 73.0% felt satisfied by those protocols instituted by the airport(s). The profile of those that recently traveled by air skews younger, urban dwellers that typically traveled for business and conventions in the pre-pandemic period.

More Americans are now agreeing with pandemic etiquette. This week, 80.6% of American travelers agreed people should wear face masks in public, up from 77.6% last week, and 87.9% up are being careful to socially distance, up from 85.6%. The reported frequency of mask wearing has also increased.

 

 

Americans also increasingly say they will practice pandemic etiquette when traveling over the next six months, including wearing a face mask and following social distancing guidelines.

 

 

Nevertheless, Americans feel marked stress from the pandemic. Overall, 44.8% report higher degrees of daily stress right now. Millennials seem to be absorbing this stress in more areas of their lives compared to older generations, being likelier to say they have felt lonely, sad, bored, easily upset, and worn out in the last month. This stress is a parasite on travel morale. Six in ten American travelers agree that if they were to travel now for leisure, they would not be able to fully enjoy it and half agree they have lost their interest in or taste for traveling for the time being.

 

 

This (hopefully temporary) loss of a taste for traveling is somewhat more pronounced in Baby Boomers and travelers residing in the Western and Northeastern U.S.

 

 

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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Millennial Meeting Planners and How CVBs Can Engage With Them

Destination Analysts’ latest meeting planner research found that Millennial-aged planners are less engaged with CVBs compared to those in older generations–a critical issue for the industry. During our webinar on July 21st, Vice President, Kimberly Vince-Cruz, interviewed a panel of meeting planners about their opinions on why this is and what CVBs can do to build and better the relationship with these planners.

Watch the video below for highlights from this discussion.
 

 

Don’t want to watch the video? Read what they shared here:

 

Why Millennial meeting planners appear to be less engaged with CVBs:

“Millennials are very much technology driven and the CVB-planner relationship is so personal—it is building up a relationship, it is building the networks, it is getting to know each other over time. It is not a matter of sending an email or going to a website and submitting something or clicking a button. I think those of us who are a little bit older have been around for a while and have built up that network base—we’re more used to picking up the phone, shooting a quick email and setting up a meeting vs. hoping to go to a piece of technology to get the information. So I think just by the way of how they were brought up, the habits that they formed based on what was available at their fingertips, it has affected how they work with people vs technology and information. Again, that’s my personal perception.”

– “How we even market our conference to our emerging leaders is we use social media and Instagram with a lot of photos. It is a completely different market and it was a hard sell to our leadership team on why we’re creating a completely different campaign to market a meeting, but that is how they access information. They are not going to look at a robust email, we have had to really develop our social media campaign and that is how we were able to communicate with them.”

– “In my experience just working with my clients who are Millennials, and I work with quite a few, I would say, and this is really shocking, 80% do not know what a CVB is, they have never heard of a CVB. I always source through CVBs, they are completely unfamiliar with the services and they just they do not have the knowledge.”

 

How CVBs can engage with Millennial meeting planners:

– “I think if a CVB wants to build a relationship with Millennials and find out what is important to them, I really think advisory boards are beneficial because you are going to get in front of them. There are also organizations in our industry. There is an award and magazine that comes out every year and it is called 30 Under 30. It is the top 30 planners under the age of 30 and if I worked for a CVB, I would get that publication and I would start reaching out to them. Our industry is still based on relationship. Just start becoming their friends and build a relationship and find out why are they not knowledgeable and what would they like to see from a CVB.”

– “I took a class on virtual meetings and learned a lot of information on how to go virtual. Something they talked about for promoting a conference that could really work well for promoting knowledge and use of CVBs is create a persona. It’s a character that is based on a real demographic and use that persona to market your conference, but in this case you could even market the existence of CVBs. Create a persona based on Millennial demographics and use that in your social media to grab the attention of Millennials to make them see anything you put out there to have them read further or get further engaged.”

Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of July 20th

Over two-thirds of American travelers say they plan to wear a mask during their trips and report they would feel happy if their destination required mask-wearing while in public. Meanwhile, findings show Americans continue to feel down on near-term travel, but are exhibiting signs of optimism for the next year.

 

 

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 July 17th-19th.

Key Findings to Know:

  • Travel morale remains depressed: a record 46.7% of American travelers now say they don’t have any trip plans for the remainder of 2020.
  • Over two-thirds of American travelers plan to wear a face mask during trips and largely plan to practice other pandemic etiquette such as following social distancing guidelines.
  • When asked how they would feel if a destination they wanted to visit required visitors and residents to wear masks while in public, over two-thirds (67.4%) said that would make them happy.
  • Of the 9.5% that expressed unhappiness about a mask mandate, half said it would not keep them from visiting a place they otherwise wanted to visit.
  • Americans are exhibiting some signs of optimism as they look out at their travel future. Now, 16.0% say they expect to take more leisure trips in the next 12 months than they did in the previous year.
  • Another positive trend: 34.7% now say they will prioritize leisure travel in their budget and expected leisure travel spend for the next year is up to $2,721 from $2,361 six weeks ago.

American travelers’ morale about COVID-19 improved marginally this week: health and financial concern levels lowered very slightly and 16.4% of travelers expect things to get better in the next month, up from 13.8%. Their travel spirits, however, remain significantly depressed. Yet another record 46.7% of American travelers now say they don’t have any trip plans for the remainder of 2020. Only 41.1% express any meaningful enthusiasm about the possibility of taking a getaway in the next month (down from 57.7% at the end of May), and just 36.6% feel open to travel inspiration—levels not recorded since the height of the lock-down in April. Even discounts and prices cuts’ ability to motivate travel in the next 3 months is down to 28.4%, with a larger proportion of travelers disagreeing that deals could get them to find traveling more attractive.

 

 

As the pandemic continues its assault on the United States and many travel and hospitality professionals find themselves leading or in the middle of mask debates, this week we looked into American travelers’ likely use of masks while traveling and their support of mandatory policies. First, we found that 77.6% agree that face masks should be worn in public, and 66.6% say they “always” wear one while out (those that don’t always most commonly cite that there aren’t enough people around for it to be necessary). Right now, 68.8% of American travelers plan to wear a face mask during trips taken over the next 6 months. American travelers also largely plan to practice other pandemic etiquette such as following social distancing guidelines.

 

 

When asked how they would feel if a destination they wanted to visit required visitors and residents to wear masks while in public, over two-thirds (67.4%) said that would make them happy or, most likely, very happy. Those 9.5% that expressed unhappiness about a mask mandate were asked if this requirement alone would be enough to keep them from visiting a place they otherwise wanted to visit. One in five of this group said it would, half said no and the remaining 30% said they weren’t sure.

 

 

Nearly 5 months into the pandemic and more than half way through 2020, this week was a good time to revisit how Americans feel about their travel as they look out over the next year. While Americans continue to feel down on near-term travel, they are exhibiting signs of optimism for the next 12 months overall. When we last did this exercise the week of May 25th, the proportion of travelers who said they would increase the number of leisure trips they will take compared to the past 12 months had plummeted to 14.1% from 34.9% in January. Now, 16.0% say they expect to take more leisure trips in the next year than they did in the previous year. Also positively trending for travel’s future is the percent who say they will prioritize leisure travel in their spending. After falling to 26.9% in May from a record 70.6% in January, now 34.7% say they will prioritize leisure travel in their budget. Expected leisure travel budgets for the next year are also up to $2,721 from $2,361 six weeks ago.

 

 

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 July 12th

The significant rise of COVID-19 cases in the United States has rippled through the American mood, causing travelers to feel less safe, waning in enthusiasm and even down on whether travel can offer happiness, fun, relaxation, culinary joy and cultural enrichment in this environment.

 

 

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 July 10th-12th.

Key Findings to Know:

  • A record low 13.8% of American travelers feel the pandemic will get better in the US in the next month; instead nearly two-thirds feel it will get worse.
  • Personal safety concerns are the highest they have been in three months.
  • A record 41.5% of American travelers now say they have no trip plans for the rest of year and only 35.7% agree they will be traveling in the Fall now.
  • Americans feel the virus has made travel’s ability to deliver fun and relaxation, as well as culinary and cultural enrichment, especially difficult, if not impossible.
  • A majority of American travelers continue to say that too many people in their communities are not wearing face masks and not maintaining the appropriate social distance in public.
  • The percent of Americans who say they would be happy to see an ad promoting their community for tourism when it’s safe remains depressed below 40%.
  • Travel marketing potential does exist: Now 11.0% say they are already in a “back traveling” state of mind; another 11.1% say they are ready to travel with no hesitations; 35.3% say they could be convinced to take a trip this year that they hadn’t previously considered.
  • Travelers in the Millennial or GenZ generations continue to exhibit less fear and hesitation and more openness and readiness to travel now. Men—particularly those with household incomes above $80K—also continue to index more highly for travel marketability compared to women.

In the last few days, several US states have broken their single day records for coronavirus cases—including Florida, Texas and California, who represent three of the most tourist-ed states in the country. These states, along with Arizona and New York, continue to be cited by Americans as the destinations most associated with the conversation around coronavirus issues.

The impact of COVID-19’s surge can be felt across the American mentality. A record low 13.8% of American travelers feel the pandemic will get better in the US in the next month; instead nearly two-thirds feel it will get even worse. The proportion of American travelers highly concerned about personally or friends/family contracting COVID-19 is the highest it has been in three months. Financial security from the virus is also off from the lows recorded at the start of June. The perception of travel related activities being unsafe has risen to mid-April levels, and the percent agreeing they will be traveling in the Fall has dropped to 35.7%, when it was near 50% only weeks ago on June 5th. Now a record 41.5% of American travelers say they have no leisure trip plans for the remainder of 2020.

 

 

When it comes to tourism in their own communities, while nearly 60% say they will take a staycation this summer, the number who feel safe going out for leisure activities locally has declined to 34.2% from 42.1% just three weeks ago (June 19th). A majority of American travelers continue to say that too many people in their communities are not wearing face masks and not maintaining the appropriate social distance in public. Thus the percent of Americans who say they would be happy to see an ad promoting their community for tourism when it’s safe, remains depressed below 40%.

 

 

In addition to wreaking havoc on their sense of safety, Americans feel the virus has made travel’s ability to deliver fun and relaxation, as well as culinary and cultural enrichment, especially difficult, if not impossible. The chart below shows the percent of Americans who rated each of these experiences a critical or high priority to them for travel and the percent who said the coronavirus situation would have a significant effect—or make impossible—their ability to have these experiences while traveling for leisure this year. While it is expected that travelers feel the pandemic challenges their ability to experience events and meet new people, it is surprising to see how many feel expected travel benefits like exploration and escaping stress are also challenged by COVID-19.

 

 

Marketing safe travel in this environment thus poses many challenges—although opportunity exists. Now 11.0% say they are already in a “back traveling” state of mind; and another 11.1% say they are ready to travel with no hesitations. In addition, 35.3% say they could be convinced to take a trip this year that they hadn’t previously considered. Americans agree the safest types of trips one could take this year are camping and RV trips. Across metrics, travelers in the Millennial or GenZ generations continue to exhibit less fear and hesitation and more openness and readiness to travel now. Men—particularly those with household incomes above $80K—also continue to index more highly for travel marketability compared to women.

 

 

Policy may have a place as a travel stimulus, as well. When American travelers were asked about the potential of a travel tax credit for their leisure travel expenses, 44.6% agreed this would increase their likelihood of taking a trip they had not previously considered.

 

 

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 Their Words: Black Travelers on the State of Travel

 

Black travelers generate $63 billion in travel spending each year, making investing in marketing to them great business sense. Yet these travelers still find themselves under represented in travel marketing and subject to unwelcoming treatment. During our webinar on July 7th, 2020, Robin McClain, SVP of Marketing & Communications at Destination DC, led a panel of black travelers in conversation about their travel experiences and what the travel industry can do to market and make travel an equally inclusive leisure activity. Below is what was shared. [Note: comments have been edited for brevity]

On Differing or Similar Travel Considerations That Travel Marketers May Not Be Aware Of, How to Market to Black Travelers and the Black Lives Matter Movement

“I do a ton of research online, and so I like to see people in the adverts that look like me. If there is a fighting chance that someone is going to look like me, I’m going to dig a little bit deeper and see what they offer. It just makes me take the next step. My next steps are quite frankly at this point going to Instagram and looking at some of the affinity groups–the Black Girls Travel groups, there is a whole bunch of them—making sure that people have had good experiences in these places, and also recognizing when people have not had such good experiences. And I will unpack that for myself a little bit just to see what that means for me and my family. Also, we’re big walkers, so walking distances to places. Where is a good, safe place for us to be? Even now, I would be looking for how can I walk from point A to point B and is it safe for me to do that? I’m looking for places that have people working there that look like me. And if I leave the hotel, how is that going to be and when I come back, because I can deal with a lot of stuff out in the community in the place that I am visiting if I know I can absolutely relax when I get back to the place that I am staying.”

“I certainly think about traveling below the Mason-Dixon line and what that may mean for me in terms of safety and security. And then internationally, I have had some not so great experiences where I did feel affected by racism. That is certainly something that I look into exploring and researching: if a country or a destination or city is friendly or welcoming to African Americans.

“I do love traveling but as an African American I’m a little bit more hesitant–even though I am going to do it–just because of the current situation, the current climate, we could say that a different climate is going on right now in the world just as far as police brutality and things like that, and our protests. I feel like there is a little bit more tension than there has ever been before, actually a lot more. I’m a bit more protective of myself and my family. I’m just trying to take it one day at a time with travel.

 

 

“I’m an abrasive researcher, so before I travel, I’m trying to find as much information as possible, so what I need to know is what kind of activities in any destination would be relevant for my family’s type of interest as well as my interests so we can kind of map out a portfolio of things we can possibly do while we’re traveling. [Even though I live in Atlanta] I was very hesitant to travel throughout the South. There are probably great casinos and beaches in Biloxi, but to this day I’m still hesitant to plan a trip there because, even if I got there and everything is cool in Biloxi, I have to get there, and drive through those states and the small towns. And images of Antebellum South and confederate statues…that to me conveys that maybe I’m not welcome there.

“If I saw that a country or a city had a Black Lives Matter rally or a march or a protest, that would actually make me consider going to that city. There are a couple of cities that I’m like oh wow, they are really rallying around BLM and maybe I should give thought to going there because they embrace people like me.

“I think that use your words like rich experience, cultural experience, and accepting experience something on those lines I think would attract me. Wording I think has to be chosen very carefully. Advertisements of lots of different places, it’s the wording, it’s the hook that gets people excited, the first few sentences–those key words that kind of fly off the screen or fly off the page you are reading. Then pictures, pictures of cultures, picture of cultural cities, pictures of happy times, positive, pictures of things that are light-hearted because again the current situation in our world right now is pretty daunting. Being able to see this as a great getaway and it just seems like I can see myself there, I can see myself as an African American traveler going here because look at all this beautiful brown people. And not just African American but lots of different cultures that are attracted to that location.”

Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of July 6th

More than twice as many Americans took trips for the Fourth of July compared to Memorial Day, and those who did skewed younger, male, city dwellers with higher household incomes—offering some clues to travel’s near-term future.

 

 

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 July 3rd-5th.

Key Findings to Know:

  • 63.0% of American travelers feel the pandemic is going to get worse in the US in the next month—up dramatically from 34.7% at the beginning of June.
  • Americans reported ability to be inspired to travel in the next three months—even under attractive conditions—has declined with the worsening of the pandemic.
  • The percent of Americans saying there are certain destinations they would normally consider visiting but now will absolutely not jumped to 37.3% from 29.6% in just one week.
  • When asked what’s driving the avoidance of these destinations, rising coronavirus cases and the perceived unsatisfactory management of the situation, as well as the expected poor behavior of other tourists was most cited.
  • Nevertheless, there are many Americans who are still traveling or planning to: 16.5% took a trip for the Fourth of July holiday, more than double Memorial Day.
  • The profile of these holiday travelers—younger, male, urban, affluent—may offer clues to travel’s near-term.
  • Americans who already have a destination(s) in mind for their 2020 leisure travel plans continue to show an affinity for beaches.
  • The hotel operational practices that would make Americans feel most confident that their health is being looked after is employees wearing masks and gloves, well-explained cleaning procedures, enforced social distancing and being provided with sanitizer and masks.

As record numbers of cases continue to be reported throughout the United States, 63.0% of travelers feel the situation is going to get worse in the next month—up dramatically from 34.7% at the beginning of June. Perceptions of travel activities being unsafe are the highest they have been since the week of April 27th. Thus, now 40.6% of American travelers say they don’t have a leisure trip planned for the remainder of 2020.

Americans reported ability to be inspired to travel in the next three months—even under attractive conditions—has also declined with the worsening of the pandemic. While last week 35.0% of American travelers said they would be open to taking a trip they had not previously considered, this has fallen to 29.0% this week. There was also a significant increase in the percent of Americans who said there are certain destinations they would normally consider visiting but now will absolutely not due to the coronavirus situation—37.3% up from 29.6% in just one week. When asked what’s driving the avoidance of these destinations, rising coronavirus cases and the perceived unsatisfactory management of the situation, as well as the expected poor behavior of other tourists (more so than the locals) was most cited.

 

 

Nevertheless, there are many Americans who are still traveling or planning to. In fact, 16.5% took a trip for the Fourth of July holiday, more than double the percentage who traveled for Memorial Day (5.9%).

 

 

The profile of these travelers—younger, male, urban, affluent—may offer clues to travel’s near-term, as they have been tracking as more ready, open and marketable for travel. A notable percent of those who have or live with people who have a disability also traveled this Fourth of July holiday, perhaps underscoring travel’s status as a wellness activity.

 

 

Americans who already have a destination(s) in mind for their 2020 leisure travel plans continue to show an affinity for beaches (42.0%). Over a third of these travelers say they will visit a city this year and similarly, 32.0% say they will visit a small town or rural area. As hotels continue to be the most popular lodging types, when American travelers were asked about the operational practices that would make them feel most confident that the hotel is looking out for their health, hotel employees wearing masks and gloves topped the list. They also want the cleaning procedures clearly communicated, socially distancing enforced, and to be provided with hand sanitizer and masks.

 

 

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.