Update on American Travel Trends & Sentiment—Week of October 18th

Just in time for the holidays, enthusiasm for travel is rebounding from the Delta-variant demise, nearing early Summer levels. In fact, despite the pandemic continuing to depress travel demand from reaching 2019 levels, the outlook for the Holiday travel season looks bright.

IMPORTANT: These findings are brought to you from our independent research, which is not sponsored, conducted or influenced by any advertising or marketing agency. Since March 15, 2020, Destination Analysts has surveyed 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 from 1,200 American travelers collected October 13th-15th.

Key Findings to Know:

  • Normalcy continues to return, as the impact of the Delta variant wanes. In terms of resuming leisure activities, fully 28% of Americans feel that the U.S. has a significant degree of normalcy, up from 24.7% the week of October 4th. This puts Americans at a Spring 2021 level mindset but not quite near Summer. These feelings of normalcy have increased most amongst Millennial-aged travelers (31.7%, up from 26.6%), but Baby Boomers are also feeling better (24.4%, up from 21.1%). Normalcy is also recovering across the U.S., particularly among those residing in the West (28.6%, up from 24.9%), Midwest (29.1%, up from 22.7%) and South (28.5%, up from 23.8%). Additionally, Americans are feeling COVID-19’s impact on their ability to have meaningful travel experiences lessen (down to 34.4% from 36.9% October 4th). Meanwhile, perceptions of travel activities’ safety made a sharp jump back up to 50.5% (from 42.1% October 4th), putting this metric back to Summer levels.
  • Enthusiasm for travel is rebounding, just in time for the Holiday season. Strong feelings of excitement for travel are up to 75.7% from 64.4% the week of October 4th. In addition, researching travel ideas and making travel bookings have both increased in the past week, fueled by improving expectations for the coronavirus situation (39.1% now feel things will get better in the next month, up from 26.9% just two weeks ago). When asked about their travel state-of-mind, 82.0% of American travelers are “ready,” back at early Summer levels.
  • Despite headwinds, it’s a bright outlook for Holiday travel. While not recovered to 2019 levels– when 52.8% of American travelers embarked on holiday-related trips—44.9% currently report having at least tentative plans to hit the road this season. This represents a nearly 17 percentage point gain from 2020 (fear of COVID and not wanting to risk the health and safety of loved ones remain the top deterrents to Holiday travel). These holiday travelers plan to take an average of 2.8 holiday-related trips (up from 2.4 in 2020), with Christmas the most popular inspiration (59.3%), followed by Thanksgiving (44.7%) and New Year’s (25.7%). There are also signs of increased holiday spending. When asked if they expect to spend more, less or the same for holiday travel this year, 33.7% of American travelers plan to spend more on holiday travel than they did in 2020 (up from 14.9%). Also indicating a potential opportunity for the travel industry, nearly three-quarters (72.0%) of American travelers reported that they would feel either happy or very happy to receive a travel-related gift this holiday season (up from 47.0% in 2020). And whether they are traveling or not, Americans are excited about the holidays (62.1% describe their excitement as at a high level) and 52.4% confirm they are more excited for the 2021 season compared to 2020.
  • Leisure and business travel expectations for the remainder of the year have increased. Compared to two weeks ago, more Americans are planning overnight trips in the next 3 months—both for leisure (57.7%, up from 49.3%) and business (14.7%, up from 11.8%). December appears to be the peak month for overnight trips in the remainder of 2021 (32.4%). Leisure (47.2%) and business (12.4%) day trip expectations for the next 3 months have also increased.
  • American workers are eager to take a break from the screen and get back to in-person meetings. Amongst employed American travelers, 44.3% said they regularly use web conferences to conduct business. Of these regular web-conference users 68.7% say they have felt the effects of “Zoom fatigue” and 62.8% agree that they are tired of web conferencing and are eager to get back to the in-person meeting experience.
  • Vaccination support continues to grow. This week, 77.4% of American travelers report being vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccinated American travelers are feeling more confident in the safety provided by their vaccine (62.1% up from 52.3%). In addition, Americans are showing increased support for vaccine requirements on airlines and “no fly” lists for problematic passengers. Right now, 66.5% agree that airline passengers should be fully vaccinated or present a negative COVID-19 test (up from 60.3% two weeks ago). Meanwhile, 66.3% of American travelers support a national “no fly” list to protect airline employees and 49.8% say that establishing a national “no fly” list would make them more interested in traveling. Meanwhile, 56.9% say they would support an indoor vaccine mandate in their own community.

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.

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.

Travel Sentiment Is a Reliable Leading Indicator for Hotel Performance

Level of Excitement for Theoretical Getaways Predicts Following Month’s Hotel Occupancy

Guest Post by Chelsea McCready, Senior Director of Hospitality Market Analytics for Costar Group

Travel sentiment has been a hot topic since the onset of the pandemic. Hotels, airlines, tourism marketing organizations and hospitality investors are desperate to understand how potential travelers are thinking and feeling about travel amid the roller coaster of the past 18 months.

Destination Analysts is one of the travel research companies tracking sentiment data. Since March 2020, they have surveyed about 1,200 potential travelers across the U.S. on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. The study includes questions about travel plans, confidence to travel safely, excitement to travel in the next month, expectations about the coronavirus situation, personal concern about catching COVID-19, and more.

Many measures of travel sentiment move directionally in line with hotel occupancy, but excitement to travel has the highest correlation with hotel occupancy. The company asks: “Imagine that a good friend (or close family member) asks you to take a weekend getaway with them sometime in the next month. How excited would you be to go?” The share of respondents that rate their excitement as six or higher on a 0-10 scale is a reliable predictor of the following month’s hotel occupancy.

This measure of travel sentiment predicts that hotel occupancy will soften from August to September, then increase again in October. U.S. hotel occupancy was 63.2% in August, and preliminary occupancy through Sept. 18 is 62.6%.

One important factor impacting hotel occupancy that wouldn’t be accounted for in this question is group demand, which made up 25% of hotel room demand prior to the pandemic. Thus far, the hotel occupancy recovery has been driven by leisure demand. But when group demand starts to recover in a more substantial way, hotel occupancy may outperform predictions from this leisure-focused travel sentiment question.

Note: This article originally appeared on https://www.costar.com/article/355142599. The author, Chelsea McCready, joined Destination Analysts’ Coronavirus Travel Sentiment Index Update webinar on September 21st and presented several more analysis of hotel and sentiment data. To watch the full presentation and download the accompanying files, you may do so here: https://www.destinationanalysts.com/webinars/september-21st-update-on-covid-19s-impact-on-american-travel-2/

Update on American Travel Trends & Sentiment—Week of October 4th

Americans’ travel marketability continues to gradually recover from the Delta-variant damage but travelers are feeling more financial stress lately and some uncertainty about vaccine protection. Meanwhile, the reopening of the U.S. border to vaccinated international visitors is generating excitement for travel. And with the rash of poorly-behaved passenger incidents on airplanes lately, the concept of a national no-fly list of trouble-making passengers enjoys wide consumer support.

IMPORTANT: These findings are brought to you from our independent research, which is not sponsored, conducted or influenced by any advertising or marketing agency. Since March 15, 2020, Destination Analysts has surveyed 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 from 1,200 American travelers collected September 29th-October 1st.

Key Findings to Know:

  • Although our indices show that travel marketability continues to gradually improve from the dramatic drop it took during the height of the Delta variant spread, Americans are feeling more financially stressed lately. When describing the current financial position of their household, the percent saying they will have money left to save this month dropped nearly 10 percentage points since September 18th to 56.1%. The percent who feel they will be better off financially a year from now also dropped 10 percentage points in the last 2 weeks, to 38.4%. Only one-third (33.5%) of American travelers report that it is a good time to spend on travel, down from 41.3% in just 2 weeks. Now fewer than half (48.7%) say that leisure travel is a budget priority, down from 55.0%.
  • A combination of the recent Delta-variant surge and seasonality, Americans have slowed their previous rabid demand for travel. With the Covid-19 data making it appear that the peak of the Delta-variant fueled surge is likely over, high concerns about contracting the virus dropped another 4% to 56.4%. The greatest proportion of American travelers believe the pandemic situation will remain the same over the next month (38.6%). Nevertheless, over half (53.6%) of American travelers continue to say that what’s recently happened with the Delta variant makes them less interested in traveling. And while 68.2% of Americans report travel planning or dreaming in the past week, back in June this was at 78.7%. Similarly, while 73.3% remain in a ready-to-travel-state of-mind, this was at 82.8% in June. In the past two weeks, the percent of Americans who report having trips plans in October and November has dropped another 4 percentage points for each month. One perhaps fortunate related impact is the improvement in resident sentiment towards tourism–the percent who don’t want tourists in town has dropped to 38.9% after reaching nearly half in August.
  • Some American travelers are not entirely confident in the protection their COVID vaccines are currently giving them, fueling a strong likelihood for boosters. 52.3% of vaccinated American travelers feel confident or very confident in the protection against COVID-19 their vaccination is providing them; another 34.2% feel somewhat confident. 13.6% of travelers feel varying degrees of “unconfident” in the protection their vaccine is giving them. As such, 67.8% of vaccinated American travelers say they plan to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster. Also, the recent progress towards COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 has made 32.9% of American travelers more interested in traveling in the next six months (Note: Interestingly, the effect is similar among those who travel with kids and others).
  • The announced reopening of the U.S. border to vaccinated international visitors is generating excitement. Over 30% of all American travelers—and nearly 57% of those who travel internationally—say this announcement makes them more interested in traveling in the next six months.
  • With the rash of poorly-behaved passenger incidents on airplanes lately, the concept of a national no-fly list of trouble-making passengers enjoys wide consumer support, and would even encourage travel. Nearly two-thirds of American travelers would “support” (23.1%) or “strongly support” (40.6%) airlines working together to create a national “no fly” list. In fact, the creation of such a list would make 44.9% more or much more interested in traveling.
  • Politics in play in travel. This week, 18.7% of American travelers say there are places in the U.S. where they feel they wouldn’t be welcome as tourists. 50.6% of these travelers cite political differences as the reason.

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.

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.

Update on American Travel Trends & Sentiment—Week of September 20th

Resigned that COVID is not going away anytime soon, the majority of travelers support regulations proposed to enhance traveler safety—from NFL games to the office. Fortunately, feelings of normalcy and optimism are starting to return and more Americans are once again marketable for travel.

IMPORTANT: These findings are brought to you from our independent research, which is not sponsored, conducted or influenced by any advertising or marketing agency. Since March 15, 2020, Destination Analysts has surveyed 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 from 1,200 American travelers collected September 15th-17th.

Key Findings to Know:

  • After an anxious period, feelings of normalcy and optimism are starting to return. This week, 24.0% report feeling the U.S. has a significant degree of normalcy, up from 21.6% the week of September 6th. This sentiment has improved most among Gen X travelers (28.6%, up from 21.7%) and travelers who reside in the Southern region of the U.S (23.8%, up from 16.1%). Those pessimistic about the pandemic’s course over the next month is at 38.9%, a significant drop from September 6th when it hit 51.2%. Meanwhile, optimism bounced up to 30.2% from 23.7%. Younger travelers remain more optimistic, as do those that reside in the Western and Southern U.S.
  • More Americans are now marketable for travel. The percent of Americans highly open to travel inspiration grew to 65.0% from 58.4% in the last two weeks. In addition, there is moderate growth across the many traveler segments we track in our travel marketability index, suggesting we may be entering a more sustained positive period.
  • Americans appear resigned that COVID is not going away. The strong majority of American travelers (67.4%) feel that it is “likely” or “very likely” that COVID-19 will be with us for the longer-term. When asked to share in one word how they feel about COVID-19 being with us in the longer-term, “sad” was overwhelmingly the top-of-mind response. Many also feel “scared,” “bad” and “frustrated.”
  • COVID remains a barrier to getting fulfillment out of travel experiences. Over 40% of Americans say that COVID-19 is seriously impacting their ability to have meaningful travel experiences right now. When asked to share how their travel experiences have been affected, many pointed to “safety concerns” and “avoiding travel,” as well as to “restrictions.” A quarter (24.9%) of recent overnight travelers reported feeling a high degree of anxiety about the COVID-19 situation during their trip.
  • Americans appear to be increasingly pushing off the early Fall leisure trips they planned to later this year. In fact, those who say they have at least tentative plans to take overnight trips in September (10.0% now, down from 22.8% the week of August 30th) and October (24.8%, down from 28.1%) have fallen while planned overnight trips for December has ticked up (23.9%, up from 21.2% two weeks ago). Similarly, plans to take leisure day trips in September (11.7%, down from 21.0%) and October (22.6%, down from 25.0%) have dropped while plans for leisure day trips in November (26.1%, up from 19.9%) and December (21.4%, up from 18.3%) have increased.
  • As has been the case throughout the pandemic, the majority of travelers support regulations proposed to enhance traveler safety. Mask requirements (where appropriate) continue to be popular with the majority (67.8%) of American travelers. By nearly a 4-to-1 ratio, far more travelers support the reintroduction of masking requirements when necessary than oppose it. Vaccine mandates for indoor activities are also approved of by the majority of the traveling public. Nearly 60 percent say they “Support” or “Strongly support” such regulations in their home communities. Approximately 25 percent of travelers oppose such regulation. 66.5% of travelers support a proposed requirement that all airline passengers be vaccinated or have a recent negative COVID-19 test, compared to 17.9% in opposition.
  • From NFL games to the office, travelers largely give the thumbs up to vaccine requirements. The recent announcement that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is creating a rule that would require companies with at least 100 workers to mandate COVID-19 vaccination or weekly testing for their employees before they can come to work is also supported by most travelers. 61.9% of travelers support such a rule, compared to 24.8% in opposition. On the heels of some NFL teams requiring vaccination for fans to attend games, we asked American travelers if professional football teams should require in-person attendees to have full vaccination or a recent negative test. 66.1% expressed support, while only 17.0% opposed this. Travelers who have attended such a game in the past 5 years showed even stronger support for the idea.
  • 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.

    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.

    There is a Will to Meet, We Just Have to Find a Way to Overcome.

    A Window into the Current State of the Meetings Industry
     

    During our webinar on August 23rd, Destination Analysts’ President & CEO, Erin Francis-Cummings, interviewed a panel of meeting planners to discuss what’s top-of-mind as they plan future events and how destinations can set themselves apart to gain their business.

    You can watch the full panel discussion with meeting planners in the following video. Highlights from this discussion are presented below.

     

     

    Although the Delta Variant is causing the live events industry to pull back again, as Miriam Davis from EventPro Productions shared, it is causing unevenness throughout different sectors. While some corporate events and trade associations have decided or are contemplating taking their Fall live events completely virtual, some industries are leaning on technological tools to keep in-person events going safely.

    As Marshall Jones from Prestige Global Meeting Source shared, “There is a will to meet. This is how our country was built and we have to find a way to overcome.” He notes that he is not blind to the struggles of the meetings industry at large, but his clients are in the fortunate position of having higher discretionary incomes that allow their organizations to invest in technological interventions to keep their attendees safe such as:

  • Color-coded wrist bands that denote attendees comfort level with hugs/handshakes
  • Clear Health Pass
  • Thermal cameras upon entry
  • Rapid testing set-up in the facility
  • Sourcing a separate wing of the hotel to isolate attendees who may be ill
  • UV filters for sterilization
  • Decontamination portals (that spritz hydrogen peroxide which is known to kill the novel coronavirus)
  • The unfortunate reality is that not all organizations are in the financial position to institute such tech savvy but costly measures, so they instead must lean on their partners. As Marnie Hinkle from Synapse shared, “There are struggles, and we are back to having to make decisions and assessments day by day.” To help alleviate these stresses, planners are looking to their hotel and CVB/DMO partners to come to the table with solutions. “If I work with a good hotel partner, they say ‘How can I help?’ A bad hotel partner says, ‘What is your plan?’” The massive responsibility of keeping attendees safe is one that meeting planners do not want to shoulder alone and a common sentiment was, “Let’s work together and help each other.”

    There has been a lot of disruption to the meetings industry because of this pandemic, but the communication and cooperation that is a core part of this industry will be its saving grace.

    Update on American Travel Trends & Sentiment—Week of September 6th

    Although nearly twice as many Americans headed out for Labor Day weekend trips this year than in 2020, summer 2021 ends in a quite a different place than it started: Since the Fourth of July, Americans’ sense of normalcy and optimism about the pandemic’s course has fallen by half.

    IMPORTANT: These findings are brought to you from our independent research, which is not sponsored, conducted or influenced by any advertising or marketing agency. Since March 15, 2020, Destination Analysts has surveyed 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 from 1,200 American travelers collected September 1st-3rd.

    Key Findings to Know:

  • Far more Americans headed out for Labor Day weekend trips this year compared to last. Nearly a quarter of Americans said they would be traveling for the holiday, almost doubling 2020 levels (24.0% vs. 13.0%).
  • Labor Day travel would have been stronger had not Americans been grappling with the disruption of the Delta variant. Among the American travelers who did not head out on Labor Day trips, 13.0% of this group said they had cancelled trip plans specifically because of Delta variant concerns.
  • Summer ends in a quite a different place than it started: Since the Fourth of July, Americans’ sense of normalcy and optimism about the pandemic’s course has fallen by half. Over half (51.2%) of American travelers expect the pandemic to get worse in the next month; comparatively only 16.2% felt this way heading into the Fourth of July holiday just two months ago. When asked how close to “normal” the U.S. is in terms of leisure activity, just 21.6% of American travelers felt that the U.S. was at least 70% back to normal, down from 42.7% at the beginning of July. Those Millennial age or younger were much likelier than Baby Boomer-age travelers to feel normalcy (27.7% vs 15.1%). Meanwhile, those in the South were less likely to feel normalcy (16.1%).
  • Although Americans generally continue to see travel and leisure activities as safe rather than unsafe, air travel, indoor attractions and restaurants have suffered notable declines in safety perceptions. Since early July, perceptions of commercial air travel as safe has fallen to 37.1% from 51.1%, while indoor attractions (like museums and aquariums) have declined to 44.4% from 59.9%, and dining in a restaurants to 52.8% from 67.7%.
  • Although Americans largely remain excited to travel in the next 12 months, expectations to travel for leisure in the next 3 months has declined. In total, 71.4% said they have a high level of excitement. However, compared to just two weeks ago, fewer Americans now report planned overnight leisure trips (52.6% down from 56.7% two weeks ago) and leisure day trips (43.1% down from 51.4%) in that timeframe.
  • The appeal of out-of-state business trips and convention travel has improved among employed American travelers relative to early this year. Now 45.7% of employed American travelers says they would be happy to take an out-of-state business trip in the next 6 months, up from 39.5% the week of April 12th. Also on the rise since April is the appeal of attending in-person group meetings. Now 40.4% would be happy to do so, up from 37.9% the week of April 12th. In fact, one-in-five employed American travelers now plans to attend a convention, conference or other group meeting sometime in the remainder of 2021, with October appearing to be the peak month for this trip type. However, the Delta variant is disrupting group meetings travel–16.8% say they have cancelled an upcoming trip to attend an in-person conference/convention and another 6.2% say they are currently considering cancelling such upcoming trips.
  • The welcoming reputation of destinations remains important to a majority of American travelers (68.0% consider it important or very important), but perceptions of specific destinations as being unwelcoming appears to be shifting. Of the 17.2% of American travelers who say they can name a destination that does not have a welcoming atmosphere for people like themselves, far more of this group are now naming New York, Texas and Hawaii as places that they feel are unwelcoming.
  • After a recent period of decline, Americans’ travel marketability index scores have held at the same levels for the last two weeks, offering hope for a turnaround. In particular, Millennial and Gen Z age travelers are likeliest to be in a ready-to-travel mindset right now (77.1%). They are also likelier to be supportive of pandemic protocols like indoor mask requirements right now (72.1%)
  • 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 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.

    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.

    A Deeper Dive Into Support for Indoor Vaccine Mandates

    In our survey of 1,200 American travelers fielded August 18-20, 2021 we examined current opinions and feelings related to pandemic mitigation measures (you can read the full summary here), specifically the COVID-19 vaccine mandates for indoor activities like bars, restaurants and gyms, undertaken by cities like New York and San Francisco, and being weighed by other communities around the world.

    One of the questions we asked American travelers about was their personal support for such indoor vaccine mandates in their own communities of residence. In total, 59.8% support or strongly support these; 17.6% are neutral and 24.8% oppose or strongly oppose them. As illustrated in the infographic below, this majority support is generally across all segments of travelers. Vaccine mandates have the strongest support among, unsurprisingly, the vaccinated, as well as urban dwellers, those with household incomes above $80,000, and parents of children under age 18. Conversely, the greatest opposition can be found among the unvaccinated (again, unsurprisingly), those residing in rural areas and those with household incomes below $80,000. Compared to Millennials and GenZ, opposition is stronger among older travelers (although the majority across generations is in support). And as compared to female-identifying travelers, vaccine mandates enjoy greater support among male-identifying travelers. Around the country, the highest concentration of support is among travelers in the Northeast.

    We will continue to track opinions related to vaccine requirements and mandates as policies evolve and will keep you updated. Reminder to join us for live presentations of our latest research findings on traveler perceptions and behaviors. And if you have a question idea or topic you would like our research to look into, please feel welcome to let us know!

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

    Update on American Travel Trends & Sentiment—Week of August 23rd

    Under the shadow of the Delta variant, the majority of American travelers support both indoor masking requirements, as well as vaccine mandates for certain indoor activities right now. And they remained committed to travel, with 80% reporting trip plans.

    IMPORTANT: These findings are brought to you from our independent research, which is not sponsored, conducted or influenced by any advertising or marketing agency. Since March 15, 2020, Destination Analysts has surveyed 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 from 1,200 American travelers collected August 18-20.

    Key Findings to Know:

  • Even with high vaccination rates among travelers, the Delta variant situation is casting a heavy shadow. Despite 72.2% of American travelers reporting they have received a COVID vaccine, 63.2% have a high degree of concern about personally contracting the coronavirus right now. In fact, the proportion who are unconcerned about personally contracting COVID has decreased by half since May, dropping from 40.0% to 21.4%. A sense of pre-pandemic normalcy has also been cut nearly in half, falling to 22.3% from 42.7% six weeks ago. About 60% of American travelers say what’s happening with the Delta variant is making them less interested in travel right now (up from 54.3% the week of August 9th). Meanwhile, an increasing number of travelers are saying they have postponed an upcoming trip specifically due to the Delta variant (32.7% up from 27.0% two weeks ago); those who say they have cancelled a trip due to Delta variant concerns remains at 27.5%.
  • Given what’s happening with the pandemic, the majority of American travelers support both indoor masking requirements right now, as well as vaccine mandates for certain indoor activities. This week, 73.6% of American travelers support the reinstatement of indoor masking policies, growing nearly 9 percentage points since August 9th. Using San Francisco’s current COVID-19 vaccine mandate for entry to bars, restaurants and gyms as an example, 61.2% of American travelers say they support this (20.6% oppose) and 47.4% even agree it makes the city a more attractive place to visit (25.1% disagree). About 60% of American travelers say they would support such indoor COVID-19 vaccine mandates in their own community, (17.8% would be neutral and 22.5% would be opposed).
  • A small gain in optimism about where the pandemic is headed in the next months hints at slight rebounds in travel sentiment. With an increase in the number of unvaccinated travelers who say they will get vaccinated this year (32.1% up from 24.7% August 9th) and a record 58.8% of traveling parents of school-age children saying they will have their kids inoculated from COVID-19, the proportion of American travelers who feel the pandemic situation will improve in the next month has gained 6 percentage points in the last two weeks to 26.3%. Those in a ready-to-travel mindset improved back to 76.4% from 71.6% and excitement for incremental near-term travel returned to 67.0%, up from 60.7% two weeks ago. Firm confidence in travel’s present safety improved to 42.8% from 36.6%. American travelers open to travel inspiration also returned to 58.6% from 52.1% two weeks ago. Unfortunately, sentiment towards convention-related and international travel did not make similar rebounds.
  • Perceptions of high travel prices are butting up against growing financial anxiety. American travelers with concerns about their personal finances continued to rise, hitting 55.0% from 47.7% 2 weeks ago, and nearly 45% report they are feeling a lot of financial stress lately. This financial related anxiety likely contributes to almost 60% agreeing that travel prices are too high right now —most particularly hotel rates and gasoline. Over 43% now say high travel prices have deterred them from traveling in the past month, up from 34.6% in just two weeks. On a positive note, despite these affordability perceptions, 54.7% say leisure travel will remain a high priority in their budgets and 41.4% agree that the present is a good time to spend on travel.
  • 80% of American travelers still have trip plans. In fact, 24.4% report having travel planned in September, and 23.4% report having travel planned in October. Both November and December are currently above 20%, as well. Three-quarters of American travelers did some travel dreaming or planning in the last week alone. Using ski as an example about travelers’ confidence in the future, nearly two-thirds of traveling skiers who have a regular ski destination they travel to say they are likely to visit that destination this season.
  • Polarization present but not overwhelming. Not surprisingly, travelers would like to know that they are welcomed at their destinations—70.2% say that they are unlikely to travel to a destination that has a reputation of being unwelcoming. Interestingly, this week the number of American travelers who said they can think of a U.S. destination where they would expect to be an unwelcoming atmosphere jumped over 7 percentage points to 20.3%. When asked in an open-ended question which domestic destinations come to mind as possibly being unwelcoming, New York, California, Texas and Florida topped the list. Nevertheless—and despite these destinations’ pandemic-related associations —Florida, New York, California, Las Vegas and Texas remain dominant in where Americans name as the places they most want to travel to in the next year.
  • 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.

    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.

    Update on American Travel Trends & Sentiment—Week of August 9th

    As the Delta variant wreaks havoc, the backslide in travel sentiment continues, diminishing months of gains. But travel is still on the horizon for Americans, with over half of travelers expecting to take at least one overnight trip in the next 3 months.

    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 August 4th-6th.

    Key Findings to Know:

  • Optimism about the pandemic has receded to a level last seen during the Winter COVID-19 surge. Since June 8th, optimism has fallen over 40 percentage points, reaching a year-to-date low of 20.4%. Instead, over half of American travelers now expect the pandemic to get worse in the U.S. over the next month. Americans feeling pre-pandemic normalcy has tumbled another 7 percentage points to 25.3%, after reaching 42.7% a month ago.
  • After months of steady recovery, confidence in travel’s safety now continues to decline. After hitting a high of 52.9% just six weeks ago, the percent of American travelers who feel “confident” or “very confident” they can travel safely in the current environment fell to 36.6%. Nearly half (48.0%) agree that media coverage of the COVID-19 situation has them doubting that it is safe to travel. Fortunately, the majority of American travelers still feel road tripping, dining in restaurants, staying in a hotel, visiting amusement parks and other outdoor attractions, shopping and outdoor recreational activities are safe; however, it’s notable that less than half now consider flying on an airplane, visiting a museum or indoor attraction, and riding in an Uber/taxi is safe.
  • Delta variant-related concerns are disrupting trip plans and making it more difficult to market travel right now. This week, a notable number of American travelers continued to say the Delta variant had caused trip postponements (27.0%, up from 25.4% July 26th) and even cancellations 23.0%, up from 18.9%). Travel enthusiasm overall has certainly been impacted. More than 54% say that the Delta variant has made them less interested in traveling right now. Those with high levels of excitement to travel now is down to 60.7% from 68.2% two weeks ago, while openness to travel inspiration fell to 54.1% from 64.4%. Travelers reporting a “not ready” mindset has climbed to 28.4% from 19.3% one month ago. These concerns extend to their home communities, as well. Those saying they don’t want tourists in town right now hit 41.9%, the highest it has been since Memorial Day.
  • Male travelers are feeling more positive. In our survey this week, those who identify as men report lower stress levels and a stronger sense of normalcy in their lives. Relative to women, they are more confident they can travel safely and exhibit greater optimism and commitment to their travel future. A key factor may be vaccination status. This week, 74.2% of male travelers report receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, compared to 58.9% of women.
  • More vaccinations will come. Nearly a quarter of unvaccinated American travelers say they will get a COVID-19 vaccine this year. Another 29.4% of these unvaccinated travelers say they are open to getting the COVID vaccine but need more information about it.
  • As we head out of the summer peak —and despite diminished enthusiasm right now —many Americans are still planning Fall travel. With the peak summer travel weeks in the rearview mirror and COVID concerns up, the percentage of travelers expecting to take one or more overnight leisure trips in the next three months has fallen to 51.5% from 63.0% July 26th. Meanwhile just 34.4% say now is a good time to spend money on travel, down from 42.4% two weeks ago, and Americans reporting travel as a budget priority dropped to 51.3% from 62.2%. And yet 75% of American travelers still did some travel dreaming or planning in the last week alone, with 23.9% reporting trip plans for September, and 26.1% for October.
  • Financial sentiment is steady. Over 44% of American travelers feel that their household will be better off financially a year from now. Just 11.3% anticipate that they will be worse off. Meanwhile, recent spending on leisure travel was strong, with the typical American traveler reporting spending $995.94 on their last overnight trip within the past month.
  • 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.

    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 July 26th

    Optimism about the coronavirus situation in the U.S. has plummeted and regression in safety perceptions has caused Americans to feel we’ve lost ground on the progress made towards a return to normalcy. The Delta variant is also disrupting Americans’ trip plans with 25.4% having postponed an upcoming trip and 18.9% cancelling a trip specifically due to the Delta variant.

    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 July 21st-23rd.

    Key Findings to Know:

  • Optimism about the coronavirus situation in the U.S. has plummeted. American travelers’ expectation that the coronavirus situation will get worse in the next month has made a significant jump from 19.6% the week of July 12th to 43.0% this week—surpassing expectations that the situation will get better (32.0%) for the first time since the week of February 1st. This worsening expectation has impacted Americans’ excitement to travel right now (68.2%, down from 72.6%), personal health concerns (56.6%, up from 49.5%) and their confidence in the ability to travel safely right now (49.3%, down from 52.9%).
  • Negative associations with travel are on the rise again. When asked to give ONE WORD that best describes how they feel about travel right now, Americans’ top response was “exciting” the week of July 12th. Now, they mostly feel “good” about travel; however, the number of people citing “unsafe,” “nervous,” “worried,” or “anxious” is growing.
  • Regression in safety perceptions has caused Americans to feel we’ve lost ground on the progress made towards a return to normalcy. Due to recent media coverage of the COVID-19 situation, 44.8% are now doubting that it is safe to go out and about and 45.0% doubt that it is safe to travel now. These decreased feelings of safety have led to a drop in perceptions of normalcy. This week, less than one-in-three (32.3%) American travelers feel that the U.S. is close to “normal” in terms of resuming leisure activities—down 10 percentage points from 42.7% the week of July 12th.
  • The Delta variant is disrupting Americans’ travel plans. Recent news about increasing Delta variant cases have made half of American travelers less interested in traveling right now (53.6%, up from 51.0% the week of July 12th). In fact, a quarter (25.4%) have postponed an upcoming trip and 18.9% have cancelled a trip specifically due to the Delta variant. In addition, overnight trips appear to be in decline—this week 43.8% of Americans said they took at least one such trip in the past month which is down from 49.6% who said the same the week of July 12th.
  • On a brighter note, big cities and metropolitan areas continue to make gains in recovery. Among those who took an overnight trip in the past month, cities/metro areas were the top destination type visited (39.3%), followed by small towns (30.9%) and beach destinations (26.9%). Due to recent COVID outbreaks, some cities have reinstated indoor mask requirements and while 15.7% of American travelers are opposed, 68.2% support this requirement.
  • 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.