Update on American Travel Trends & Sentiment—Week of November 1st

How has the pandemic changed Americans and their relationship to travel? Different affinities to wellness and work, travel that is more sustainable and more about connection with friends and family. As we move forward, it is also clear travel advertising has the opportunity to be much more inclusive.

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 October 27-29.

Key Findings to Know:

  • Many Americans are looking at lifestyle changes, primarily centered on transforming their relationships with themselves, their family and work. Although change is less likely for Baby Boomer-aged travelers, fully one-third of those Millennial-age say they intend to change their lifestyle going forward (with another 20% uncertain if they will). Of top importance: being more mindful of wellness or self-care, spending more time with friends and family, achieving a healthier work-life balance and, relatedly, changing careers and/or jobs.
  • The relationship with travel will also change—more trips, using travel as a means to deeply connect with their friends and family, traveling more sustainably and with a greater environmental consciousness, and a greater focus on outdoor activities. And while nearly half of those that intend to change the way they travel going forward say they will travel more internationally, 48.5% say that the pandemic did open their mind to domestic travel opportunities. In addition, over 60% of Millennial age and younger travelers say they are interested in trying a digital nomad lifestyle.
  • Americans continue to regain normalcy lost to the Delta-variant surge. This week saw another 3 percentage point gain in those feeling that the U.S is largely normal for leisure activities (31.3%). Now 38.5% feel that the COVID situation will improve in the U.S. over the next month. The majority feel confident in their ability to travel safely and sentiment towards tourism in their own communities has improved (39.6% don’t want tourists in town, down from 48.6% at the end of August). The proportion of recent travelers who say that travel businesses were having trouble providing adequate service has declined over 5 percentage points in the last two weeks to 41.0%. Nevertheless, two-thirds of American travelers feel COVID will be with us for the long-term and thus it continues to impact travel. Over 38% still feel that COVID-19 has impacted their ability to have meaningful travel experiences (up from 34.4% two weeks ago) and 20.7% of recent travelers reported high levels of COVID anxiety on their last trip.
  • The near-term outlook for travel is positive. This week, 83.8% of American travelers currently have trip plans, with 53.0% traveling at least once in the next three months. More than 7-in-10 American travelers did some travel dreaming and planning in the past week alone. Nearly 70% have high degrees of excitement about a potential getaway they had not previously considered (a good predictor of upcoming hotel performance).
  • Business and convention/group meetings travel is rebounding. When asked about the overnight trips American travelers expect to take in the next 3 months, 15.5% reported business travel (up from 11.8% October 1st) and 12.1% reported convention, conference or group meetings (up from 8.8%). Similarly, day trips for these types of travel are also up with 15.3% reporting a day trip for business (up from 10.7%) and 11.4% for convention, conference or group meetings (up from 8.5%).
  • Despite the strong desire for travel, Americans are more conscious about their spending. Right now, 52.5% say they will prioritize travel in their budgets—down from 59.8% just two weeks ago. Those that feel that it is a good time to spend on travel has declined from 45.1% to 38.9%. Three-in-five American travelers feel that travel prices are too high right now and 42.7% say that these high prices have kept them from traveling in the past month.
  • Travel advertising has a significant opportunity to be more inclusionary. Just 36.1% say they see people they identify with commonly featured in travel advertising and only 38.1% feel travel advertising is designed with people like them in mind. In fact, 15.0% feel that they have recently seen a travel ad that felt exclusionary and 19.4% saw an ad that felt inauthentic.
  • 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 on Tuesday afternoon. And please join us Tuesdays at 11:00am EST for a live presentation of the latest insights into traveler perceptions and behaviors.

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