A Look at Marijuana in Tourism on 4/20

 

 

Even with the theater the humans in the election created, it was marijuana who was largely seen as the prime victor in last November’s election. Marijuana was approved for recreational or medicinal use in 6 more states, so now there are only 15 states that outlaw marijuana in any form. This embracing of marijuana legalization is something policy experts attribute to a strong shift in consumer perceptions about the plant and the products people make with it.

The merits of legalized marijuana, of course, have been discussed and debated for several years in the tourism industry. Many destination marketers embrace it for the tax revenues it brings and that, by and large, the tourists who patronize legal marijuana establishments have been desirable ones. In studying marijuana in tourism over the last several years through our quarterly The State of the American Traveler study, we consistently found that it was Baby Boomers who were the likeliest to purchase or consume marijuana while traveling.

In honor of April 20th, or 4/20—the holiday celebrating marijuana culture, we asked the 1,200 American travelers we surveyed last weekend about their recent travel to states in which marijuana is legal and their purchase of marijuana while traveling. In total, almost 30% of American travelers said they have taken a leisure trip in the past two years to a state in which marijuana has been legalized. Among the travelers who have visited such states, a whopping 51.4% have purchased marijuana and/or marijuana-based products while traveling. Bring on secondary impacts of the munchies, and there may be some significant tax revenue these tourists are accountable for. 🙂

 

 

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

It’s another week of pandemic-era record setting for Americans’ travel readiness, confidence in travel’s safety, trips planned and even support of tourism in their own communities. In more good news, as business travel continues to recover, there is a welcome retreat in the impact of the pandemic on corporate travel policies.

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 15, 2020, 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 April 16-18th.

Key Findings to Know:

  • Although coronavirus cases are rising in nearly half of the U.S., Americans’ COVID anxiety grew only mildly. Even in the Midwest, which is particularly affected by the latest growth in cases, levels of COVID concern remained relatively stable; in fact, it is those in the Northeast who continue to exhibit the highest levels of COVID concerns.
  • Ongoing vaccinations combined with optimism about the future have contributed to another week of record setting in travel readiness and safety. Americans’ confidence in their ability to travel safely reached a pandemic record, as did the perception of travel activities as safe. Now 72% say they are in a ready-to-travel mindset—up nearly 20 percentage points since the start of the year.
  • Three-quarters of American travelers did some travel planning and dreaming in the past week alone, with 16.4% actually making a reservation or booking. Of these bookers, over half made a hotel reservation, nearly a fifth reserved a vacation home/Airbnb and a third bought airline tickets.
  • Over 75% of American travelers will take at least one trip in the next 3 months, and a record 88% have at least tentative travel plans for the future.
  • Americans are also showing that they are open to even more travel beyond what they may currently have planned. Nearly two-thirds have a high excitement level about the prospect of a trip they had not previously considered, and similarly 63.4% are highly open to travel inspiration right now.
  • For travel marketers to reach and capitalize on the high rates of excitement and openness to inspiration, fortunately, American travelers are showing a receptiveness to travel messaging in a variety of channels, including social, print, streaming and direct. TikTok, a rising star throughout the pandemic, is growing as a channel for travel influence, with nearly a quarter of younger travelers saying it is an ideal place to reach them.
  • Americans are demonstrating increased happiness on seeing their own communities advertised for tourism, reflecting a larger trend in support of travel.
  • Well over half of those who took a road trip in the pandemic era say their experience has made travel by car more appealing—a sentiment that is even stronger among Millennial and younger travelers. The road trip is likely to sustain its popularity as travel recovers.
  • There continues to be more good news about still-slow-but-recovering business travel. Now 56% of those employed by companies in which there is business travel say that this travel has resumed, up 8 percentage points from last month. Perhaps most importantly, the extent of the perceived lasting changes to business travel appears to be retreating.
  • Although coronavirus cases are rising in nearly half of the U.S., Americans’ COVID anxiety grew only mildly. Even in the Midwest, which is particularly affected by the latest growth in cases, levels of COVID concern remained relatively stable; in fact, it is those in the Northeast who continue to exhibit the highest levels of COVID concerns. Also, despite the pause in Johnson & Johnson vaccine administration, two-thirds of American travelers still say they have or plan to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Of those who report receiving a vaccine, over 70% say they are now fully vaccinated. This combined with optimism about the future (47.6% feel that the pandemic situation will improve in the next month) have contributed to another week of record setting in travel readiness and safety. Americans’ confidence in their ability to travel safely reached a pandemic record, as did the perception of travel activities as safe. Now 72% say they are in a ready-to-travel mindset—up nearly 20 percentage points since the start of the year.

     

     

    The growth in a readiness mindset has led to an increase in the dreaming, planning, booking—and actual doing of —travel. Three-quarters of American travelers did some travel planning and dreaming in the past week alone, with 16.4% actually making a reservation or booking. Of these bookers, over half made a hotel reservation, nearly a fifth reserved a vacation home/Airbnb and a third bought airline tickets. Over 75% of American travelers will take at least one trip in the next 3 months, and a record 88% have at least tentative travel plans for the future. Americans are also showing that they are open to even more travel beyond what they may currently have planned. Nearly two-thirds have a high excitement level about the prospect of a trip they had not previously considered, and similarly 63.4% are highly open to travel inspiration right now.

     

     

    For travel marketers to reach and capitalize on the high rates of excitement and openness to inspiration, fortunately, American travelers are showing a receptiveness to travel messaging in a variety of channels. However, save for email and online articles/blogs, desired channels for travel content and advertising are highly impacted by age. Social media is most common for younger travelers, who are open to travel messaging on a variety of these platforms, while older travelers remain largely committed to Facebook. TikTok, a rising star throughout the pandemic, is growing as a channel for travel influence, with nearly a quarter of younger travelers saying it is an ideal place to reach them, surpassing Twitter. Television remains a top source to reach travelers, with younger travelers on streaming services and older travelers on broadcast. Search engine marketing also remains key for travel marketing, particularly to reach older travelers. An important proportion of travelers—even the younger ones—are looking to print resources like travel & lifestyle magazines, as well.

     

     

    Americans are even demonstrating increased happiness on seeing their own communities advertised for tourism, reflecting a larger trend in support of travel. This week, a record 50.4% said they would feel happy if they saw an ad promoting where they live as a place for tourists to come visit. Conversely, a record-low 39.5% said they aren’t ready for tourists in their community yet.

     

     

    As we continue to study the ongoing and lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic on travel attitudes and behaviors, this week we looked at whether and how road trips—the archetype of travel in the COVID era—would sustain its level of popularity. Two-thirds of American travelers road tripped during the pandemic, taking 2.5 of these trips on average. Over 62% of these pandemic-era road trippers agreed that this travel reminded them of how much fun road trips can be. Thus, well over half also say their pandemic road trip experiences have made travel by car more appealing. Interestingly, this sentiment was even stronger among Millennial and younger travelers, 60.5% of whom said that travel by car is now more appealing.

     

     

    Finally, there continues to be more good news about still-slow-but-recovering business travel. Now 56% of those employed by companies in which there is business travel say that this travel has resumed, up 8 percentage points from last month. Perhaps most importantly, the extent of the perceived lasting changes to business travel appears to be retreating. Somewhat fewer business travelers report that the pandemic will change the way their employer does business travel (47% down from 50% in March). The ways business travelers expect changes are also largely down from last month, with less feeling there will be fewer business trips taken and the replacing of trips with virtual meetings.

     

     

    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.

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

    Many Americans are still in pandemic mode when it comes to booking travel, expecting shorter booking windows, often less than 4 weeks out. This week we can celebrate that the appeal of attending in-person meetings has improved, although the majority of business travelers still needs at least a few more months before they are ready to be back.

    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 15, 2020, 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 April 9th-11th.

    Key Findings to Know:

  • Americans have been exhibiting a lessening optimism over the last month, after reaching a pandemic peak the week of March 14th.
  • Nevertheless, fear about travel has continued on a course of steady decline. Of the travel and leisure activities we track, only a handful remain perceived as unsafe by a majority of American travelers. In fact, the average perception of these activities as unsafe is down 20 percentage points from January 1st—a pandemic record low (37.9%).
  • More than two-thirds have a “ready-to-travel” state-of-mind and this readiness has resulted in a lot of travel plans. Over 86% of American travelers currently have at least tentative leisure travel plans and 72.8% expect to travel for leisure within the next three months alone.
  • In terms of what is motivating Americans to travel right now, while relaxing, getting away from their daily life and spending time with family remain important, about half are highly seeking escaping boredom, having new experiences and visiting new places they have never been. One-third are out to party while a quarter are even traveling specifically to meet new people.
  • As Americans look out on their travel in the months ahead, many iconic tourism spots—Florida, New York, Las Vegas, Hawaii, California—top their lists of the domestic destinations they most want to visit, including popular cities, from Chicago to New Orleans.
  • In terms of Americans’ timing on booking travel, the pandemic’s impact can still be seen. In total, 45.7% say they will make reservations closer to their travel date than they would in a normal year. Over 40% of travelers who will be making hotel, car rental, attraction and event bookings say they will be doing so less than 4 weeks out. Even 28.5% of upcoming air travelers say they will purchase their flights less than a month before travel.
  • Looking at the types of travel Americans have planned for the next quarter, leisure travel is indeed leading the recovery with 52.4% planning a vacation or getaway and 36.8% traveling to visit friends or relatives. Business travel is further back in recovery. Right now, 13.6% of American travelers say they will be taking a business trip in the next 3 months and 11.4% say they have a convention/group meeting trip.
  • This week we can celebrate that the appeal of attending in-person meetings has improved. Over 54% of business travelers say they would be happy if their employer asked them to attend an in-person conference, convention or group meeting in the next six months. This is nearly double what was recorded last August.
  • Still, a meetings industry rebound may be further into the future. Two-thirds of business travelers feel it won’t be until this summer or later that they will be comfortable attending in-person meetings. The majority (56.4%) of business travelers still would prefer a virtual meeting to an in-person one if it were happening this month. Only 20 percent say they would prefer an in-person event right now.
  • As of this week, over 27% of the U.S. adult population is vaccinated against COVID-19 and the proportion of Americans highly concerned about their family or friends contracting the virus is now at an all-time low. Yet with cases rising in some regions and the pandemic ongoing, Americans have been exhibiting a lessening optimism over the last month, after reaching a pandemic peak the week of March 14th. Compared to a month ago, those who feel the coronavirus situation in the U.S. will improve over the next four weeks has declined nearly 15 percentage points (45.5% from 60.3%), while nearly twice as many now feel things are going to get worse (21.3% from 11.1%). Nevertheless, fear about travel has continued on a course of steady decline. Of the travel and leisure activities we track, only a handful remain perceived as unsafe by a majority of American travelers. In fact, the average perception of these activities as unsafe is down 20 percentage points from January 1st—a pandemic record low (37.9%). Those who would NOT feel guilty traveling now exceeds those who would (39.1% vs 36.7%). And more than two-thirds have a “ready-to-travel” state-of-mind.

     

     

    The readiness around travel has resulted in a lot of travel plans. Over 86% of American travelers currently have at least tentative leisure travel plans and 72.8% expect to travel for leisure within the next three months alone. In terms of what is motivating Americans to travel right now, while relaxing, getting away from their daily life and spending time with family remain important, about half are highly seeking escaping boredom, having new experiences and visiting new places they have never been. One-third are out to party while a quarter are even traveling specifically to meet new people.

     

     

    As Americans look out on their travel in the months ahead, many iconic tourism spots—Florida, New York, Las Vegas, Hawaii, California—top their lists of the domestic destinations they most want to visit, including popular cities, from Chicago to New Orleans.

     

     

    In terms of Americans’ timing on booking travel, the pandemic’s impact can still be seen. In total, 45.7% say they will make reservations closer to their travel date than they would in a normal year. Over 40% of travelers who will be making hotel, car rental, attraction and event bookings say they will be doing so less than 4 weeks out. Even 28.5% of upcoming air travelers say they will purchase their flights less than a month before travel. Given the high demand for travel, this short booking window preference may have consequences. Nevertheless, booking continues at a steady pace. This week, 13.9% of American travelers said they had made a travel reservation or booking in the last seven days.

     

     

    Looking at the types of travel Americans have planned for the next quarter, leisure travel is indeed leading the recovery with 52.4% planning a vacation or getaway and 36.8% traveling to visit friends or relatives. Business travel is further back in recovery. Right now, 13.6% of American travelers say they will be taking a business trip in the next 3 months and 11.4% say they have a convention/group meeting trip (Note: if we look at the business traveler segment alone, one-third say they will be taking a business trip this quarter). In a typical year pre-pandemic, about 20% of American travelers reported having upcoming business, convention or group meeting trips.

     

     

    This week we can celebrate that the appeal of attending in-person meetings has improved. Over 54% of business travelers say they would be happy if their employer asked them to attend an in-person conference, convention or group meeting in the next six months. This is nearly double what was recorded last August. In addition, about 40% of American business travelers say they currently have plans to attend a conference/convention/group meeting this year. Still, a meetings industry rebound may be further into the future. Two-thirds of business travelers feel it won’t be until this summer or later that they will be comfortable attending in-person meetings. The majority (56.4%) of business travelers still would prefer a virtual meeting to an in-person one if it were happening this month. Only 20 percent say they would prefer an in-person event 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.

    A Current Pulse on Black Traveler Perspectives

     

     

    As part of Destination Analysts’ series of panel discussions with traveling consumers, our latest industry update webinar on April 6th was followed by an important discussion with Black travelers. Visit Fort Worth’s Director of Research, Lauren Phillips, led an enlightening discussion exploring how Black travelers’ unique perspectives and personal experiences impact present and future travel decisions.

    You can watch the full panel discussion in this video and find our key takeaways below.

     

     

  • Black travelers still don’t often see people who look like them in travel advertising. As we have heard time and again in traveling consumer panels, the current state of travel advertising overall appears to have the opportunity for far more inclusivity.
  • Despite being underrepresented in travel marketing, Black travelers do not hold back from taking leisure trips. A common sentiment amongst the panelists was a wish for “more representation in ads” and to “see people who look like me.” However, even given the lack of Black travelers in marketing and advertising, they are keen to hit the road and have experiences in destinations ranging from nature and the outdoors, to beaches and mountains, to large, metropolitan cities. In the words of Cyrus from Brooklyn, NY, “Black people travel, we have been traveling and we will continue to travel.”
  • Social media plays a major role in Black travelers sharing personal experiences with, and promoting destinations to, their communities and networks—and thus gaining more voice in the conversation around travel. Cognizant of the fact that Black representation is “lackluster” in the marketing campaigns for many travel brands, social media is a forum through which Black travelers can control the narrative and show that they travel to a wide variety of destinations. And this narrative leads other Black travelers to consider destinations, visit them and continue the momentum of Black travelers representing themselves, each other and the destinations they visit by posting about their experiences on social media.
  • Both presently and historically, Black travelers approach travel with caution—something we are hopeful can change. Despite the protests and greater societal solidarity shown around #BlackLivesMatter, the travelers on our panel reminded us that they have always been aware and cautious around who and where they are in all areas of life, particularly when traveling. They expressed an inherent acknowledgement that “everything is a calculated risk.” Sadly, from their perspective, the events in the last year were felt unsurprising and thus haven’t dramatically changed their approach to travel. For the travel industry, the discussion served as a key reminder that cautiousness continues to be very much a part of the Black travel experience and that we must to do our part in promoting travel as a means of inclusiveness.
  • The Destination Analysts team would like to thank Lauren Phillips of Visit Fort Worth for leading this discussion, and the panelists Cyrus, Francesca and Quincy for sharing their personal opinions and perspectives.

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

    As Americans feel the country is more than halfway back to normalcy, positive sentiment towards travel reached new pandemic-era peaks. And while vaccine passports are being debated in the political realm, it appears that, particularly for certain activities, an important proportion of American travelers is in favor of proof-of-vaccination policies.

    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 15, 2020, 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 April 2nd-4th.

    Key Findings to Know:

  • When asked the likelihood that the U.S. will experience another COVID surge in 2021, 53.8% of American travelers said that this was indeed likely—an anticipation strongest in the Midwest and among older travelers.
  • Yet while the majority expects another surge to occur, they don’t appear to believe it will necessarily impact themselves. Anxiety about contracting coronavirus—as well as the pandemic’s financial impact—is down.
  • On average, American travelers believe the United States is 52.6% back to normalcy right now. Nearly half believe their life will be back to “normal” by September.
  • Compared to last April, it is clear Americans feel very differently, particularly as it relates to travel’s safety. Average perceptions of travel and leisure activities as unsafe has declined 30 percentage points in the last year. Travel avoidance—including in general, internationally and for conventions/conferences —reached record lows this week. This week also marks another pandemic record for travel readiness, with 69.3% saying “ready” is what describes their state-of-mind.
  • About two-thirds of Americans are highly open to travel inspiration right now and the number of Americans actively dreaming about and planning travel reached a 2021 peak at 77.7%. A 2021 record 33.6% researched travel ideas online in the last week, while another record 17.8% made travel reservations or bookings.
  • In terms of when Americans will go traveling, July continues to strengthen as a peak month for travel, as now one-third of American travelers report at least tentative trip plans for that month. Travel also looks to continue this Fall—nearly a quarter of American travelers say they have trips planned for September and about 22% have at least tentative plans in October.
  • This growing positivity towards travel overall extends to how Americans feel about tourism in their own communities. This week, nearly 54% say they are comfortable going out for leisure activities where they live—a pandemic-era record-high. Meanwhile, 41.3% say they are not ready for tourists in town just yet—however, this is a far cry from the 67.6% who felt this way a year ago (and also represents a record low). Positive sentiment towards tourism in one’s own community is generally much stronger among those Millennial-age compared to those in older generations.
  • It appears that, particularly for certain activities, an important proportion of American travelers is in favor of proof-of-vaccination policies. When asked how comfortable they would be with vaccine passports being used widely in the U.S. to allow access to public activities, 52.0% said they would be comfortable or very comfortable—a feeling strongest among older travelers and those who have already been vaccinated.
  • A majority of American travelers also say they believe proof of COVID-19 vaccination should be required for entry to the United States from another country, boarding a cruise line, and boarding a commercial flight. More than 4-in-10 say they believe vaccination proof should be required to attend an indoor performance like a concert and to attend large scale outdoor sporting events.
  • In the last week, despite record vaccination rates, new coronavirus cases were on the rise again in the United States, and health and political officials implored pandemic vigilance to continue. When asked the likelihood that the U.S. will experience another COVID surge in 2021, 53.8% of American travelers said that this was indeed likely—an anticipation strongest in the Midwest and among older travelers. Yet while the majority expects another surge to occur, they don’t appear to believe it will necessarily impact themselves. Anxiety about contracting coronavirus—as well as the pandemic’s financial impact—is down. On average, American travelers believe the United States is 52.6% back to normalcy right now. Nearly half believe their life will be back to “normal” by September.

     

     

    Meanwhile, excitement about travel is firmly up. Compared to last April, it is clear Americans feel very differently, particularly as it relates to travel’s safety. Average perceptions of travel and leisure activities as unsafe has declined 30 percentage points in the last year. Travel avoidance—including in general, internationally and for conventions/conferences—reached record lows this week. The proportion of Americans confident in their ability to travel safely right now outpaces the proportion that lacks confidence. Americans who have lost their taste for traveling for the time being—something we began tracking regularly during the last coronavirus surge—has plunged to a low of 33.3%. For the first time ever recorded in our study, the proportion of Americans that would NOT feel guilty traveling (41.6%) surpassed those that would (36.2%). This week also marks another record for travel readiness, with 69.3% saying “ready” is what describes their state-of-mind.

     

     

    About two-thirds of Americans are highly open to travel inspiration right now and the number of Americans actively dreaming about and planning travel reached a 2021 peak at 77.7%. Well over one-third day-dreamt about travel and/or discussed a future trip with someone in the last week alone. A 2021 record 33.6% researched travel ideas online in the last week, while another record 17.8% made travel reservations or bookings. Among those that made a travel booking or reservation in the last week, 57.5% report they booked a hotel room and 34.6% say they bought airline tickets.

     

     

    In terms of when Americans will go traveling, nearly 60% say they will take a trip within the next three months. July continues to strengthen as a peak month for travel, as now one-third of American travelers report at least tentative trip plans for that month. Travel also looks to continue this Fall—nearly a quarter of American travelers say they have trips planned for September and about 22% have at least tentative plans in October.

     

     

    This growing positivity towards travel overall extends to how Americans feel about tourism in their own communities. This week, nearly 54% say they are comfortable going out for leisure activities where they live—a pandemic-era record-high. Meanwhile, 41.3% say they are not ready for tourists in town just yet—however, this is a far cry from the 67.6% who felt this way a year ago (and also represents a record low). Nearly 47% of American travelers say they would be happy to see an ad promoting where they live as a place for tourists to visit when safe. Positive sentiment towards tourism in one’s own community is generally much stronger among those Millennial-age compared to those in older generations.

     

     

    This week, 48.2% of American travelers report they have already been vaccinated against COVID-19. The U.S. rapidly vaccinating its population combined with desires for the final holdouts of normalcy to return has fueled much conversation about vaccine passports. While vaccine passports are being debated in the political realm, it appears that, particularly for certain activities, an important proportion of American travelers is in favor of proof-of-vaccination policies. When asked how comfortable they would be with vaccine passports being used widely in the U.S. to allow access to public activities, 52.0% said they would be comfortable or very comfortable—a feeling strongest among older travelers and those who have already been vaccinated. A majority of American travelers also say they believe proof of COVID-19 vaccination should be required for entry to the United States from another country, boarding a cruise line, and boarding a commercial flight. More than 4-in-10 say they believe vaccination proof should be required to attend an indoor performance like a concert and to attend large scale outdoor sporting events. 3-in-10 even currently say it should be required for indoor restaurant dining.

     

     

    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.