Update on American Travel Trends & Sentiment—Week of November 29th

The outlook for travel in 2022 is shaping up in a promising way, with more trips overall and to a more diverse set of destinations. The near-term outlook is also positive, although current COVID and financial concerns will need to be assuaged.

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 November 24th-26th.

Key Findings to Know:

Travel’s outlook for 2022 looks promising. As shown in the infographic below, when Americans were asked to describe their travel in 2022, top choices include “hopeful,” “excited,” “fun” and “more.” In fact, 33.2% of American travelers say they will take more leisure trips in the next year and the same proportion (33.4%) say they will spend more money on their leisure travel in 2022. The average reported leisure travel budget for 2022 is currently $3,797. Beaches, rural towns and national/state parks destinations will still be where a majority of American travelers head, with more than 70% reporting plans for these types of destinations. Meanwhile, 66.2% of travelers currently say they plan to visit cities, although 29.3% report that they will increase their urban travel in 2022. When asked to list the domestic destinations they most want to visit in 2022, Florida, New York, Las Vegas, California, Hawaii and Texas are top among American travelers as they look forward to 2022. However, domestic destinations will face more competition again as 23.6% say they will increase their international travel in 2022. American travelers also look to continue to take trips to make up for time missed out on with loved ones during the pandemic: 39.2% say they will increase their family travel in 2022 and 32.8% will increase their travel with friends.

The near-term outlook for travel is also favorable, although growing COVID and financial concerns are weighing factors. The average American traveler reports they will take 2.4 overnight trips in the next 3 months, and 80.3% have travel plans right now. Over 70% of American travelers did some travel dreaming or planning in the past week alone, particularly discussing potential or upcoming trips with others. However, the number of American travelers feeling that COVID-19 will be with us for the long-term is rising (up to 63.9% this week from 61.7% the week of November 15th), as is the number anticipating that the U.S. will face another significant wave of COVID-19 (up 2 percentage points this week to 55.8%). Optimism about the course the pandemic will take in the U.S. over the next month has dropped nearly 12 percentage points in the last two weeks (26.9%), while pessimism has grown 10 percentage points, so that now one-third expect the situation to get worse soon. When asked what is deterring them from traveling more this Winter, COVID-19-related concerns were chief among American travelers. Financial concerns are also weighing more heavily on travelers’ minds. Gas prices, concerns that travel is too expensive right now, and personal financial reasons are all among the top 5 issues deterring Americans from traveling more right now. Nevertheless, travel remains a bright spot for many–64.9% of Americans said that they would be “happy” or “very happy” to receive a travel-related gift for the holidays.

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 November 15th

Amidst a pandemic-era near record high in resident sentiment towards local tourism, last week’s reopening of the U.S. borders to international travelers was welcome news to the majority of American travelers—many of whom may be now inspired to venture abroad themselves. Meanwhile it looks to be a busy Thanksgiving travel week—likely one that exceeds even 2019 levels.

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 November 10-12.

Key Findings to Know:

  • Amidst a near pandemic-era record high in resident sentiment towards local tourism, last week’s reopening of the U.S. borders to vaccinated (and COVID-tested) international travelers was welcome news to Americans. When asked about the lifting of international travel restrictions at this point in time, the majority of American travelers (53.8%) said that it was good or very good news. However, this development was relatively more positively received amongst travelers in the West (62.1%); meanwhile those in the Midwest demonstrated the comparatively lowest enthusiasm (47.4%). The reopening of the border is likely inspiring more Americans to venture abroad themselves—those that said they were avoiding international travel hit a record low 55.3%.
  • In more good news for the travel industry, the Thanksgiving holiday looks to be a busy one—possibly even exceeding 2019 travel levels. The percent of American travelers who say they plan to travel over the Thanksgiving Holiday has more than doubled compared to 2020—30.6% currently say they will versus 12.9% last year. This rate is even higher than in 2019, when 23.1% of American travelers reported taking a Thanksgiving holiday trip. As expected, COVID does remain a travel impediment, with 17.2% saying they have cancelled a Thanksgiving trip this year due to the ongoing pandemic (although this is down from 31.7% in 2020). Nevertheless, the enthusiasm for Thanksgiving travel this year is likely helped by high vaccination rates among travelers and their confidence in these vaccines’ ability to protect them against the virus (78.2% report being vaccinated, 63.2% feel firmly confident in their vaccine’s protection). In addition, taking a road trip, visiting friends and family, and shopping enjoy strong safety perceptions among travelers.
  • American travelers’ sense of normalcy has dropped slightly, but there has been a modest gain in optimism about COVID’s long-term status. Americans’ sense of normalcy around leisure activities has dropped 2 percentage points over the past two weeks. Now 29.6% of American travelers feel that the U.S. is “normal” or “close to normal,” down from 31.3%.” just two weeks ago. Despite the dip in American travelers’ sense of normalcy right now, fewer feel that COVID-19 will be with us in the longer term. In fact, 61.7% feel that the COVID-19 situation will remain with us at least for the next several years, compared to 65.9% the week of November 1st.
  • Unfortunately, a majority of Americans (53.8%) do feel that the U.S. will face another significant wave of COVID-19 in the short-term (i.e., at some point in the next three months). This feeling is strongest amongst Gen Xers (58.0%) and those residing in the Midwest (57.1%). This has started to erode the positive gains made in expectations for the COVID situation in the near-term, with more Americans now saying they expect things to get worse in the next month (23.3% up from 20.4% the week of November 1st).
  • These near-term expectations about the pandemic are contributing to nearly three-quarters of American travelers saying it’s important the destinations they visit continue to maintain careful COVID-19 safety protocols. While this feeling is even stronger amongst older travelers (76.9%), 68.4% of Millennials or younger travelers also deem public pandemic safety measures important in where they choose to travel.
  • American travelers are split on their comfortability with seeing maskless people in travel advertisements. While 30.0% are comfortable with this, 36.5% are uncomfortable, while 33.5% are neutral. Large crowds of people in travel ads are likely to draw more scrutiny though. While 21.0% of Americans are comfortable seeing large groups of people in travel ads now, 42.4% would be uncomfortable (36.6% are neutral).
  • 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.

    The Destination Analysts team wishes you a safe and fun Thanksgiving holiday. We are so grateful for you and all our many clients and friends in the travel industry!

    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 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.

    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 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.

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    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.