Update on American Travel Trends & Sentiment—Week of May 17th

As COVID worries dip, concerns about gas, travel prices and the economy are on the rise. Meanwhile, this summer certainly won’t look like the last one, as Americans are planning a broader range of trip-experiences.

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 May 13th-15th.

Key Findings to Know:

  • COVID concerns keep dropping as 58% of American travelers are now fully vaccinated: American travelers’ personal health concern levels about COVID again dropped to an all-time low, with nearly a third now relatively unconcerned about contracting the virus. Americans’ expectation that the pandemic situation will improve in the U.S. in the next month reached a record 61.8%. Confidence in travel’s safety continued to increase, and now just 34.7% are engaging in travel avoidance until the situation is more resolved—down over 20 percentage points in 3 months.
  • Yet travel prices and other economic concerns are on the rise: Strong concerns about the national economy rose 3.5 percentage points in the last week to 76.9%. Americans’ belief that travel prices will be low this summer has declined (31.5%), while disagreement that they will get low prices for travel is on the rise (41.6%). Americans vacationing over the next 3 months anticipate they will spend $1,720 on travel during this period.
  • All eyes on gas prices: Our ongoing decades-long research on American travelers has always shown a correlation between gas prices and travel sentiment. Recent gasoline price inflation and shortages following the Colonial Pipeline cyber-attack have had a significant impact on the traveling community. Nearly one-third (30.9%) of travelers report being affected by the event. While the ultimate impact on the travel industry is unclear, many travelers (15.9%) say this volatility in the gasoline market has led them to reconsider or cancel upcoming travel plans.
  • The majority of American travelers remain ready-to-travel and marketable: Over 70% of American travelers say they are excited and open to new trips in the near-term, as well as highly desiring of travel inspiration. Our travel marketability predictive indices show that all segments have now reached the potentially marketable status. Search engines, email campaigns and social media remain the top channels that Americans say they would be most receptive to travel messaging in.
  • Americans continue to make trip plans: Over 72% report doing some travel planning or dreaming in the last week. The months of July (32.6%) and August (31.6%) continue to see growth in the proportion of Americans expecting to take leisure trips during then. September and October also look strong for travel, with a quarter of Americans reporting they plan to get away in each of those months.
  • This summer definitely won’t look like the last one, as Americans will engage in a wider range of trip-types: While 46.3% of American travelers say they’re planning low key close-to-home escapes, 40.7% also report that they will be taking longer, more involved trips to interesting locations this summer. And 1-in-10 report they will be taking a bucket list trip.
  • Support of local tourism reaches pandemic record levels: The proportion of American travelers that say they don’t want tourists in their own communities reached a record low 37.5%, while 53.3% say they would be happy to see an ad promoting tourism to their community.
  • Follow us on social for infographics of these and other key findings. 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.

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