Update on American Travel Trends & Sentiment—Week of January 17th: The Dichotomy of this Virus & Travel

Measurements of American travel sentiment continue to illustrate the dichotomy in the American psyche of the seriousness of the pandemic situation and the love for travel. Even with continued strong concern for COVID safety, societal exhaustion with the pandemic and a cultural propensity for optimism have resulted in increasing excitement 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. 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 January 12-14, 2022.

This week’s findings from our ongoing research on American travel sentiment continues to illustrate the dichotomy in the American psyche of the seriousness of the pandemic situation and their love for travel.

With Omicron-fueled COVID case records continuing to disrupt life in the U.S.—from staffing shortages to full hospitals—Americans concerned about personally contracting the virus rose over 7-points in the last two weeks to 65.4%. This exceeds levels during the Delta-variant and is the highest it has been since February 2021. In fact, 71.9% report that at least one person in their personal circle has contracted COVID just in the last month alone (2.9 friends, relatives and/or coworkers on average). Omicron also continues to impact trips, with 40.8% of American travelers reporting either a cancellation or postponement specifically due to the variant—an 8-point gain from the start of the month. Nearly 30% have said that the challenges procuring COVID tests have stopped them from traveling in the past month. About 30% of recent trip-takers reported a high-degree of COVID anxiety and three-quarters of all American travelers say they are or will be more careful when traveling because of Omicron.

Nevertheless, while 44.6% of American travelers have frequently worried that people are giving up on COVID safety when they shouldn’t, 30% admit to frequently feeling exhausted in the past month from having to deal with the COVID-19 situation and 35% say they have frequently had the thought that “life should go back to normal” despite the pandemic. Optimism that the pandemic will improve in the next month has soared 10-points in the last two weeks to 30.6%.

In fact, this combined societal exhaustion with the pandemic and cultural propensity for optimism have resulted in increasing excitement for—and engagement with—travel. Nearly 80% of American travelers have trips currently planned in 2022. Over 70% have engaged in travel planning and/or dreaming in the past week alone—a 7-point increase over the past month. Excitement for an unplanned getaway (70.0%) and openness to travel inspiration (66.2%) both increased 5-points in the past two weeks. Overall enthusiasm for leisure travel and the number of anticipated leisure trips in 2022 are also on the rise. This week 72.8% of Americans expressed higher levels of excitement for their prospective travel future—reaching the highest level it’s been since the Omicron wave began. In fact, when asked for the one word that describes how they feel about travel right now, “excited” is the top response. The average number of anticipated leisure trips Americans plan to take over the next 12 months has hit its highest peak during the pandemic era at 3.1. In addition, more Americans now say that travel will be a spending priority in the next 3 months (58.2%—a 3-month high).

What resources are American travelers turning to for getting inspiration and planning the travel they have on their minds? It appears the typical American traveler has used a wide array of travel planning resources recently. Digital channels naturally dominate destination marketing receptivity. When asked about the channels they’d be most receptive to learning about new travel destinations to visit, website found via a search engine (29.9%), email (24.0%), Facebook (21.3%), streaming video services such as YouTube or Hulu (19.3%) and online content such as articles and blogs (18.0%) topped the list. Instagram is also a top resource for Millennials, while printed travel and lifestyle magazines are key for inspiring Baby Boomers. When it comes to travel planning, Americans are commonly using Facebook (27.0%), YouTube (26.0%) and Instagram (20.9%), online travel agencies (24.6%), online content such as articles and blogs (22.4%), printed travel or lifestyle magazines (16.7%) and television programming (14.4%). American travelers are also looking to official resources such as the official destination website (21.9%) and an online visitor guide (14.7%) or printed visitor guide (11.8%) to plan their travel.

What might Americans be searching for when it comes to travel inspiration and planning? By far the types of trips Americans are most excited about taking in the next year include family trips and romantic getaways. Millennial and Gen Z-aged travelers exhibit much higher levels of excitement for many different trip types compared to older travelers. In terms of interest in specific activities in the next 12 months, Americans are most interested in enjoying scenic beauty, warm weather outdoor activities, road trips, dining in regional restaurants, visiting historical sites and enjoying street food during their travels.

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!

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Update on American Travel Trends & Sentiment—Week of January 3rd: What’s In Store for Travel in 2022

With COVID remaining a fixture and Omicron continuing to impact trips, Americans welcome 2022 with an enthusiasm for travel that remains largely undeterred, focused on fun in the new year.

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 December 26-28th.

Welcome 2022!

What will this year bring to travelers and the travel industry? Read on for what we learned about American travelers as they closed out 2021 and looked out to the new year ahead.

First, what happened over the holidays, and what can we learn about what the future may hold?

Omicron did impact holiday and other future travel. The number of American travelers reporting that that the situation with the Omicron variant has impacted their travel continued to grow—to 32.9%, up from 30.9% two weeks prior. Of the group of travelers who were impacted, 50.7% say they have postponed one or more trips and 43.5% say they have flat-out cancelled a trip(s). When asked the week of December 13th, 29.8% of American travelers said they planned to travel over the Christmas holiday. However, when asked if they had in fact traveled over the holiday, only 23.3% actually did. While one-in-five (20.7%) continued to report that they would travel over the New Year’s holiday, there was still a 5-point decline in the percent of American travelers who said they would take leisure trips in January (to 15.1% from 20.7% two weeks ago). Nevertheless, leisure travel appeared robust in the last quarter of the year overall, with over one-third of American travelers taking at least one overnight leisure trip during this period and 33.6% reporting taking an overnight trip to visit friends or relatives.

What’s in store for 2022?

COVID still looms large. Currently 25% of travelers are experiencing stronger levels of anxiety, the highest rate we’ve seen since October 27th. Nearing half (46.3%) feel that the pandemic in America will get “worse” or “much worse” in the next month—up over 20 points since Fall. Firm confidence in travel’s safety has also declined. This week just 38.2% say they are confident or very confident in their ability to travel safely in the current environment, down 10 points from November 12th. Americans feeling higher degrees of normalcy in their ability to travel as they like dropped to 31.0%—the lowest it has been since September 29th. Plus, 27.5% say it’s likely that Omicron will impact their travel over the next 6 months.

Yet despite record COVID cases in the U.S. and a holiday period of massive flight cancellations, Americans’ overall travel sentiment has actually improved. Those in a ready-to-travel state of mind rose to 77.9%—up from 76.0% December 13th and among the highest levels since the start of the pandemic. The proportions avoiding conferences/conventions and international travel have both declined (now at 50.5% and 60.6% respectively). Just 38.2% say they don’t want tourists in their own communities right now—meaning Omicron did not impact local sentiment towards tourism to the same degree that Delta or the original viral strain did. While Omicron has and will impact travel, thus far it has not quelled Americans’ interest in travel in the ways previous COVID surges did. In fact, fewer now say that news about Omicron cases makes them less interested in traveling (50.1%, down from 54.3%). Strong excitement for leisure travel grew to 69.2%. Americans are also increasingly enthusiastic to learn about new travel experiences (61.1%). They are also willing to make the financial commitment for travel—35.5% feel that now is a good time to spend on travel and 57.5% will prioritize spending on travel in the next three months. Over 30% of American travelers expect to take more leisure trips in 2022 than 2021 and the average American traveler plans to spend $3,912 on their travel this year. In Q1 of 2022 alone, 46.0% say they will take at least one leisure trip and 11.1% say they will take at least one business trip.

American travelers will have a firm focus on fun. When asked about their travel in 2022, Americans’ most say they will prioritize having fun (75.8%), followed by relaxing (69.2%), finding happiness (64.1%) and escaping stress (60.9%). For the majority of American travelers, the travel experiences they will highly prioritize are spending time with loved ones, enjoying nature, going to new place they have not been before and getting away from crowds. In contrast, only 21.1% say they will prioritize staying close to home. Millennial and Gen Z travelers are also likely to orient towards budget travel in this new year. Trip experiences garnering a strong interest from American travelers include enjoying scenic beauty (70.2%), warm weather outdoor activities (66.0%), beach destinations and resorts (63.4%), road trips (61.3%), visiting U.S. National Parks (58.8%), and cuisine and food experiences (56.8%)—thus, marketing travel with one or more of these types of experiences should be successful in garnering interest. Note that for Millennial and Gen Z-aged travelers—who have stronger interests in a more diverse set of experiences overall—festivals and special events (75.2%), big city experiences (74.3%), arts and culture (70.8%), and theme and amusement parks (75.5%) are much more attractive (relative to older travelers). Florida and Orlando, Hawaii, New York, California, and Las Vegas still dominate American travelers’ thinking about popular trip destinations. And when it comes to the COVID-age workcation trend, 46.0% of employed American travelers say they are interested or extremely interested in taking a workcation in 2022.

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 December 13th

The impact of the Omicron variant on travel sentiment, trip plans and travel marketability are now measurable, although not yet at lows reached during the Delta variant period. Meanwhile, 30% of American travelers are still heading out for Christmas Holiday trips.

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 December 8th-10th.

Key Findings to Know:

With the Omicron variant front and center in the news while the holidays approach, American travelers are feeling more anxious and less optimistic about the near-term. Those that expect the pandemic situation to get worse in the U.S. over the next month rose nearly 10 percentage points in the last two weeks to 42.6%, and about two-thirds now say that another significant wave is likely to occur in the next three months (another ~10-point increase). Belief in COVID’s long-term presence jumped to over 70%. Here is what our latest research found about the impact of the Omicron variant and the current pandemic situation on travel:

  • Travel Sentiment: While 76.0% of American travelers remain in a ready-to-travel state of mind, this is down from 82.0% October 15th, when this metric recovered from the Delta variant. In fact, well over half of American travelers say the recent news about the Omicron variant make them less interested in traveling right now. High excitement levels about a potential getaway in the next month has declined 3 percentage points in the last two weeks to 65.7%. Similarly, those highly excited as they look out over their leisure travel in the next year has fallen 4.1 percentage points to 67.2%. Openness to travel inspiration is at 59.7%, falling from 64.0% November 26th. In Destination Analysts’ Travel Marketing Sentiment Index, the impact of the Omicron variant is now apparent, although the declines have not dipped to the lows of the Delta-variant period.
  • Trip Plans & Booking: Right now, 30.9% of American travelers say that the Omicron variant has impacted their travel in some way—37.2% of this group saying they have cancelled an upcoming trip and 47.3% saying they have postponed–and among those that have NOT been impacted, 26.8% say it’s likely that they will be eventually. American travelers’ expected number of overnight trips in the next 3 months year has fallen from 2.7 to 2.0 since November 26th, while expected day trips has declined to 1.9 from 2.7. Fewer Americans report dreaming and planning travel recently, dropping from 70.8% two weeks ago to 64.2%. Nevertheless, about 30% of American travelers say they plan to take a trip over the Christmas holiday (similar to Thanksgiving 2021), up from 17.4% who reported they would take a Christmas trip back in 2020.
  • Safety & Normalcy: American travelers report a decreasing sense of normalcy this week and those highly concerned about contracting COVID-19 has increased over 5 percentage points to 61.8%. The course the Omicron variant takes could also potentially weaken confidence in vaccine protection against COVID-19. Amongst vaccinated American travelers, 60.5% report feeling confident in their vaccination’s protection against COVID, down slightly from 62.0% the week of November 29th. The average safety perceptions of travel and leisure activities is down from 47.5% to 44.6%, with taking a cruise, staying in a hotel, and going shopping showing some declines in safety perceptions. This week 33.9% say that their ability to travel is returning to or completely normal, compared to 37.8% the week of November 29th. Nearly 70% of American travelers say they will be more careful during their upcoming trips because of the Omicron variant.
  • Other Trends for Travel Marketers to Note: The average American traveler continues to report a sense of financial wellness. Nearly half say that travel will be a high priority in their budget over the next 3 months and the mean reported annual travel budget is $3,746.

  • Over a quarter of American travelers (26.1%) have used a Visitor Information Center in the past 12 months. 61.5% feel that it is “important” or “very important” for a destination to have a Visitor Information Center and another 48.9% report that they are likely to use this resource in the next 12 months.
  • 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 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.