Update on American Travel Trends & Sentiment—Week of June 21st

Americans are feeling the normalizing effects of the grand reopening, with more summer trips planned and minds opened for travel inspiration. However, the renewed travel activity across the country may be causing attitudes towards local tourism to backslide.

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—specifically in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic—and explored a variety of topics. The key findings presented below represent data collected June 16th-18th.

Key Findings to Know:

  • Americans are feeling the grand reopening: More than four-in-ten Americans now say that the U.S. is more than 70% back to normal for leisure activities—up from only 26.8% feeling this way in April. While there was little difference by age in this sentiment, those in the Northeast are likeliest to feel the country is closer to normal while those in the West are less likely.
  • Travel is the thing-to-do this summer: Three-quarters of American travelers will take at least one vacation or getaway over the next 3 months. In this same time frame, 15.3% will take a business trip and 7.5% will travel for a conference or convention.
  • Americans want more travel inspiration: The proportion of American travelers highly open to travel content is up to 73.1% this week. In the last week alone, eight-in-ten American travelers did some travel dreaming or planning towards their next trip. Online content/search engine marketing, social media, emails and travel & lifestyle magazines continue to be where Americans say they are most receptive to travel messaging.
  • The increase in travel may be causing attitudes towards local tourism to backslide: This week saw a 7-percentage point increase in the proportion of Americans who say they don’t want tourists in town (to 40.6% from 33.6%). Some of our latest research found that 40% of recent travelers had found other people irritating while out-and-about—could this annoyance be a reason for not wanting tourists in town? In any case, those who don’t want travelers visiting their local community right now demographically skew male, employed, urban-dwelling, Millennial-aged, parent of children under 18. On a positive note, 57.7% of American travelers said they would be happy to see an ad promoting tourism to their own community.
  • Beach destinations look poised for another year of stellar tourism performance: When asked about the destinations they will visit for the remainder of 2021, Americans reported the greatest certainty to visit beach destinations and resorts, and beaches were likeliest to be a primary trip destination, rather than a secondary or pass-through destination (in comparison, cities are similarly likely to be a secondary destination as a primary destination for travelers this year). Boding even better for beach destinations is that Americans demonstrate the greatest excitement for visiting these destinations—56.2% are highly excited to travel to beaches this year, 12 percentage points above National Parks, and 15 percentage points above cities.
  • American travelers’ top passions include Foodie-ism, International Travel, Concerts, Theme Parks, Health & Wellness and Theater Performances: As the pandemic recovery continues, more than 40% of American travelers report having high interest in each of these passions and hobbies.
  • Concerns about side-effects are preventing further vaccination-rate gains: This week, 19.2% of American travelers surveyed said they would not be getting themselves inoculated against COVID-19. When asked their reasons why, concerns about the vaccines’ side effects topped the list (40.1%), closely followed by feeling that the vaccines were not adequately tested (38.8%). On the flip side, about 90% of COVID-19-vaccinated travelers said being vaccinated makes them more comfortable traveling.
  • Follow us on social for infographics of these and other key findings. You can also download recent infographics here. Need assets for a presentation or something else? Find all the presentation decks from our ongoing traveler research here—new decks posted each Tuesday afternoon. And please join us every Tuesday at 11:00am EST for a live presentation of the latest insights into traveler perceptions and behaviors.

    We appreciate your support of this research from our small but mighty team of devoted tourism researchers.

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    Have a question idea or topic you would like to suggest we study? Let us know!

    We can help you with the insights your tourism strategy needs, from audience analysis to brand health to economic impact. Please check out our services here.

    Update on American Travel Trends & Sentiment—Week of June 14th

    While some Americans plan to leave their current romantic partner, the more common lifestyle changes they anticipate post-pandemic include finding a healthier work/life balance, traveling more and also being more mindful of travel sustainability. 43% of travelers are now saying they are ready to move on from the pandemic and it appears that this health crisis has also opened Americans’ minds up to the idea of traveling more domestically.

    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—specifically in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic—and explored a variety of topics. The key findings presented below represent data collected June 9th-11th.

    Key Findings to Know:

  • Many Americans are ready to move on from the pandemic: This week, 43.5% of travelers agree that they personally feel the pandemic is effectively over and they are ready to move on (up from 40.6%). This rising feeling also coincides with an increase in both openness to travel inspiration (69.4% up from 67.4%) and excitement to travel in the near term (73.7% up from 71.9%). Additionally, those who do not feel confident they can travel safely in the current environment is at a record low (15.7%).
  • American lifestyle changes are coming: Nearly three-in-ten Americans expect to change their lifestyles post-pandemic. Most commonly, those expecting to make changes feel it is most important for them to find a healthier work/life balance, spend more time with family, be more mindful of their self-care and spend more time with friends. Although less common, some are also looking to get rid of their current romantic partner. In addition, nearly a quarter plan to make changes to the way they travel. Most notably, those anticipating travel habit changes plan to travel more, focus more on outdoor experiences and also be more mindful of travel sustainability.
  • Expectations for vaccinations inch up: Expectations for adult American travelers to take a vaccine (or have already taken a vaccine) inched closer to the 75% mark. This week 73.9% say they will or have been vaccinated (up from 72.9%). Similarly, parents of school-aged children are increasingly expecting to have their children (or already had their children) take a vaccine—a pandemic-record high of 61.7% up from 59.7% last week.
  • Interest in domestic trips increases: In fact, 70.9% of travelers who were more internationally oriented (e.g. were more interested in traveling outside the U.S. than traveling domestically pre-pandemic) said the pandemic has opened their minds to traveling more within the U.S.
  • Bookings for lodging accommodations are on the rise: 18.2% of Americans made travel reservations in the last week. Of these travel bookers, the most common reservation made was for a hotel room (52.7% up from 47.4%). In addition, nearly one-in-five also booked a home-sharing service such as Airbnb or VRBO this week (17.7% up from 13.3%).
  • Relaxation, scenic beauty and new experiences are what Americans most want to get out of their travels in the upcoming year: Secondarily, Americans will also seek out escapism, food experiences and adventure. Affordability will also be of high importance. In fact, it was among the top three destination attributes they consider very important or essential in regard to the destinations they plan to visit in the next year—after fun and relaxing.
  • Follow us on social for infographics of these and other key findings. You can also download recent infographics here. Need assets for a presentation or something else? Find all the presentation decks from our ongoing traveler research here—new decks posted each Tuesday afternoon. And please join us every Tuesday at 11:00am EST for a live presentation of the latest insights into traveler perceptions and behaviors.

    We appreciate your support of this research from our small but mighty team of devoted tourism researchers.

    To make sure you receive notifications of our latest findings, you can sign up here.

    Have a question idea or topic you would like to suggest we study? Let us know!

    We can help you with the insights your tourism strategy needs, from audience analysis to brand health to economic impact. Please check out our services here.

    Now is the Time to Shine for Vacation Rentals

     

     

    As coronavirus cases in the United States continue to wane, the lasting effects of the pandemic can be good news for certain sectors of the travel industry. Over the past 15 months, American travel behaviors have clearly changed—including where travelers stay during their overnight trips. In fact, at the beginning of May 2021, 15% of American travelers reported having stayed overnight in a vacation home rental within the past two years, while nearly a quarter of those who intend to travel in the next three months anticipate staying in a vacation home rental on an upcoming trip. To learn more about the remarkable rise in vacation rental usage, Senior Research Director Myha Gallagher interviewed a panel of executives from vacation rental companies during our May 25th industry update webinar.

    Jason Sprenkle, CEO of Key Data, Michelle Hodges, President of SH Enterprises and Tim Cafferty, President of Outer Banks Blue, shared a look into the current landscape of vacation rentals.

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

     

     

    Business for vacation rental companies has skyrocketed over the course of the pandemic. Michelle of SH Enterprises shared that they are “Having [their] best year in 10 years in terms of occupancy and ADR.” According to Jason of Key Data, RevPAR for property management companies is up 58% and occupancy rate is up 13% compared to pre-pandemic times in 2019. With these record-breaking metrics, Tim from Outer Banks Blue declared that “Right now it is our moment to shine. Now is our moment in the sun!”

    The current success of vacation rental companies is attributed to safety and accessibility. With restrictions on certain types of travel, such as cruising and international travel, the preferred option was nearby regional leisure trips in which travelers stayed overnight in vacation rentals. The perception amongst many vacation rental clients was that certain types of travel introduce environments that can’t be controlled, such as at the airport or at a hotel. Vacation rentals, however, provide a safe environment where guests have control and peace-of-mind.

    DMOs can best support vacation rental companies by providing one common message, such as “It’s Worth the Wait,” so that they can echo that same message. The panel suggested DMOs could help vacation rental companies most by communicating a common message that they and other travel-related businesses can use to attract visitors when they’re ready to travel. Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism’s “Worth the Wait” summer marketing campaign is an excellent example, in which the DMO sets expectations and asks travelers to pack extra patience along with their swimsuits and sunscreens. Additionally, DMOs can also provide vacation rental companies with real-time data about visitors. Amidst the constantly evolving coronavirus situation, up to date information about visitors will help vacation rental companies anticipate the best ways to serve their valued clients.

    As the travel industry continues to embark on the road to recovery and summer travel abounds, vacation rental companies are clearly having their moment in the sun.

    Update on American Travel Trends & Sentiment—Week of June 7th

    Despite many finding their fellow travelers irritating, Memorial Day trips boosted travel comfort & confidence, and now a pandemic record-breaking 80% of Americans say they are in a travel ready state-of-mind. To capitalize on this heightened readiness, marketers would be wise to reach travelers with advertising that is honest, friendly and big on fun.

    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—specifically in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic—and explored a variety of topics. The key findings presented below represent data collected June 2nd-4th.

    Key Findings to Know:

    • Memorial Day trips increase American’s comfort with traveling: Over the Memorial Day holiday, nearly a quarter (22.4%) of American travelers took a trip. Of which, 64.6% said they had a negative-leaning experience—most commonly restaurants not being fully open (19.1%), crowding (19.0%) and poor COVID-19 safety standards (17.9%). In addition, about 40% said they found other travelers they encountered on these trips to be irritating. Still though, these trips are building traveler confidence. In fact, well over half (53.6%) said their Memorial Day trip helped them feel more comfortable with being out and traveling again.
    • Cruising appears to be on the rebound: With decreasing concerns around COVID and Americans’ confidence in travel’s safety continuing to grow, this week the percent of travel bookers who made cruise reservations for an upcoming trip more than doubled in the last week (from 7.0% to 16.1%). In addition, perceptions of traveling by cruise line being unsafe has hit a pandemic-era low (46.0%–down from 60.4% at the beginning of April).
    • Vaccines for children are on the rise: More American parents than ever during the pandemic now say they will have their children vaccinated against COVID (59.7% up from 44.5% last week). However, expectations for adult American travelers has stalled. This week 72.9% say they will or have been vaccinated, a figure that has been stagnant over the last 5 weeks and has yet to surpass the 75% mark.
    • A pandemic record breaking 8-in-10 Americans now say they are ready to travel: This growing readiness is certainly fueled by feelings that the worst of the virus is behind us. In fact, another record breaking 67.8% expect the coronavirus situation in the U.S. will get better in the next month. Meanwhile, a historic low 6.7% expect things to get worse.
    • The demand for summer travel continues its positive trend: With increasingly more Americans in a travel ready state-of-mind, the outlook for summer leisure travel continues to be healthy. While small towns and rural destinations are the likeliest types of destinations that travelers will visit, as has been seen over the past month, urban destinations are returning, with approximately 40% saying they anticipate visiting a city in the next 3 months. Average leisure trip spending during this time period is anticipated to be $1,810, higher than $1,691 reported last week.
    • More Americans than ever during the pandemic recall seeing travel-related advertising: In total, 45.5% reported seeing advertisements for travel destinations in the past month. Broadcast television (42.7%) and online advertisements (41.5%) were the top mediums in which Americans recall travel ads, while ads for hotels (44.1%) and theme parks (42.2%) were the types of ads most widely recalled. Travel ads are also bringing joy to Americans as well as influencing destination decisions. When asked to consider the most recent travel ad they saw, over half said these ads made them feel happy (53.3%). Importantly though, a third of American travelers say that they have indeed decided to visit a destination as a result of having seen an advertisement (32.2%).
    • American travelers want ads that are honest, friendly and fun: Websites found via search engine, broadcast television, Facebook, streaming video, print magazines and email campaigns are the best ways to reach Americans with travel messaging. Younger travelers in particular (Millennials or younger and Gen X) are especially likely to turn to Facebook to learn about new destinations to visit. The most appealing tones in travel messaging right now are ones that are honest, friendly and fun. A significant rise compared to one year ago, the desire for a fun/entertaining tone in travel ads has increased 30 percentage points, from 21.7% to now 47.1%.

    Follow us on social for infographics of these and other key findings. You can also download recent infographics here. Need assets for a presentation or something else? Find all the presentation decks from our ongoing traveler research here—new decks posted each Tuesday afternoon. And please join us every Tuesday at 11:00am EST for a live presentation of the latest insights into traveler perceptions and behaviors.

    We appreciate your support of this research from our small but mighty team of devoted tourism researchers.

    To make sure you receive notifications of our latest findings, you can sign up here.

    Have a question idea or topic you would like to suggest we study? Let us know!

    We can help you with the insights your tourism strategy needs, from audience analysis to brand health to economic impact. Please check out our services here.

    Changing the Narrative for LGBTQIA Travelers

     

    A personal reflection in response to Destination Analysts’ June 1st, 2021 panel discussion with LGBTQIA travelers, by David Reichbach, Senior Director of Analytics & Data Security at Destination Analysts.

    Note: Views expressed here belong to David Reichbach and do not necessarily represent those of other Destination Analysts staff or the company itself.

     

     

    As a proud member of the queer community, it was an honor to interview our panel of LGBTQIA travelers to kick-off Pride Month and discuss their current feelings about travel, safety and inclusivity. Craig, Gayle, Savio and Sierra, who represent a range of ages, backgrounds and traveler personas, dialed in from all across the country to share their unique perspectives on how they travel, what motivates them to travel and their important considerations in selecting leisure destinations.

    Similar to what we’ve seen in focus groups with other travel segments, LGBTQIA travelers want to see themselves in advertisements and marketing. Their advice to travel marketers is to “Show us instead of keeping us invisible.” Not only are they significantly more interested in visiting destinations that portray our community in travel advertising, but they strongly prioritize going to places that actively promote diversity and inclusion.

    As Americans emerge from the pandemic and leisure travel begins to fully recover, the LGBTQIA traveler community is excited to travel more than ever and will be looking for destinations that will accept and welcome them with open arms. Simply put, “Now is the right time to change the narrative and normalize the LGBTQIA experience.”

    Watch the full panel discussion below.