Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of September 21st

As Americans’ daily stress levels have recently increased, there will be a greater prioritization of having new experiences, escaping boredom and simply finding joy. Openness to travel—and feeling they will have a good time doing it—continues to bloom.

 

 

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 15th, Destination Analysts has surveyed 1,200+ American travelers about their thoughts, feelings, perceptions and behaviors surrounding travel in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and explored a variety of topics. The findings presented below represent data collected September 18th-20th.

Key Findings to Know:

  • Nearly half of American travelers feel a high degree of stress in their daily lives. But while stress is up compared to a few months ago, the propensity to worry about coronavirus is down.
  • Since April, and amidst rising stress, more Americans are reporting stronger prioritization of relaxation, finding joy/happiness, and—especially important for travel—having new experiences.
  • Those who are already traveling (or ready to without hesitation) are far likelier to be prioritizing finding joy and escaping from boredom in their lives over the next six months compared to other Americans.
  • Openness to travel continues to bloom. The level of excitement for learning about new travel experiences or destinations to visit is at a pandemic-period high—one last obtained at the end of May.
  • Unlike early on in the pandemic, now less than 50% of American travelers consider staying in a hotel, Airbnb or home rental, dining in a restaurant, visiting an amusement park or other outdoor attraction, recreating outdoors and shopping to be unsafe. Overall perceptions of travel’s safety remain at the lowest levels they have been during the pandemic.
  • Now just 37% agree they need a vaccine to travel, down from a high of 45% at the start of August.
  • Half as many Americans are saying they are going to change the types of travel destinations they choose to visit post-pandemic than in April, and among those that are saying they will indeed change the types of destinations they choose to visit, more positive reasons are being offered up as to why than in prior months, including an increased willingness to explore new destinations and crossing places off their bucket lists.
  • Americans are also less likely to feel their leisure travel will be dampened by the current state of things.

 

As it has several other times during the pandemic, our research offers a deeper look into the mindset of American travelers right now, with the objective of helping the travel industry best address its customers’ most fundamental needs.

 

If you regularly feel an abundance of stress right now, you are among many other Americans: 47% feel a high degree of stress in their daily lives. Be it from managing distance learning for children to navigating extreme weather, Americans are a little likelier to be keeping themselves up at night and feeling tired than they were a few months ago. While stress is up, the propensity to worry about coronavirus, however, is down.

 

 

Our research also revisited Americans’ lifestyle priorities to see if any shifts occurred. Since April, and amidst rising stress, more Americans are reporting stronger prioritization of relaxation, finding joy/happiness, and—especially important for travel—having new experiences. Whether GenZ, Millennial, GenX or Baby Boomer, the generations are all in agreement on the prioritization of emotional well being, in addition to relaxation and finding joy/happiness. While staying safe from infection is also a top lifestyle priority across the board, it has nevertheless declined, most notably for Boomers, who have instead increased their focus on relaxation. Among Millennial and younger age travelers, escaping from stress and connecting with others are not quite as strongly priorities as was felt in August, instead returning back to May levels. GenX-age travelers are the likeliest to be prioritizing connecting with nature as they look out over the next six months of their lives. Perhaps of most importance, those who are already traveling (or ready to without hesitation) are far likelier to be prioritizing finding joy and escaping from boredom compared to other Americans.

 

 

With these patterns in both continued and shifting lifestyle priorities, openness to travel continues to bloom. As has been for the last month, over 54% of Americans identify with being in a “ready to travel” mindset versus needing more time. American travelers’ level of excitement for learning about new travel experiences or destinations to visit is at a pandemic-period high—one last (and only other time) obtained at the end of May, at the start of the summer season.

 

 

Unlike early on in the pandemic, now less than 50% of American travelers consider staying in a hotel, Airbnb or home rental, dining in a restaurant, visiting an amusement park or other outdoor attraction, recreating outdoors and shopping to be unsafe. Overall perceptions of travel’s safety remain at the lowest levels they have been during the pandemic. Over half of American travelers continue to say they are at least somewhat confident they can travel safely in this environment. Now just 37% agree they need a vaccine to travel, down from a high of 45% at the start of August.

 

 

With these growing feelings of safety surrounding travel, less Americans are saying they are going to change the types of travel destinations they choose to visit post-pandemic. In April nearly 40% of American travelers agreed they would change the destinations they traveled to, now less than 20% do—a 50% decrease. In addition, among those that are saying they will change the types of destinations they choose to visit, more positive reasons are being offered up as to why than in prior months, including an increased willingness to explore new destinations and crossing places off their bucket lists.

 

 

Finally, Americans are also less likely to feel their leisure travel will be dampened by the current state of things. This week, 56.8% agreed that if they were to travel now for leisure, they would not be able to fully enjoy it, down from 60.5% at the end of July. And now just 43.1% have some agreement with the statement “I have lost my interest in/taste for traveling for the time being,” down from 49.5%.

 

 

A complimentary report of these key findings is available for you to download and share.
You can register for our online presentation of these findings Tuesday at 11:00am EST.
We appreciate your support of this research from our small but mighty team of devoted tourism researchers. If you would like further and deeper insights from the complete study, you can learn more here. Please consider donating or purchasing to support this research.
To make sure you receive notifications of our latest findings, you can sign up here.
If you need shareable graphics, content for presentations, video presentations and more, please visit our COVID-19 Insights Media page here.

Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of September 14th

Although the ongoing pandemic has increased travel budget consciousness, lessening concerns about the virus has more Americans planning trips and improved confidence that travel can be done safely. Meanwhile 44% of American travelers say they would take an approved COVID-19 vaccine.

 

 

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 15th, Destination Analysts has surveyed 1,200+ American travelers about their thoughts, feelings, perceptions and behaviors surrounding travel in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and explored a variety of topics. The findings presented below represent data collected September 11th-13th.

Key Findings to Know:

  • Health and personal financial concerns, while still strong, remain the lowest they have been during the pandemic.
  • This lessening of fear has translated to travel. The average rating of travel activities as “unsafe” continued to fall this week to the lowest levels they have been since March 15. Over 30.0% of American travelers are confident they can travel safely in the current environment, another 24.0% feel at least somewhat confident.
  • There thus has been a measured rise in the number of American travelers who are planning travel: this week, 78.3% report they have at least tentative trip plans. The percent of those in a “ready to travel” mindset is at a pandemic-period high.
  • There remains opportunity for the travel industry to work together to improve safety perceptions around travel: Among those who traveled by commercial airline this past summer, 52.8% report feeling unsafe against COVID-19 at some point(s) during their flight. Such feelings were not as widespread while at lodging properties, but still 27.7% report feeling unsafe against the virus sometime during their stay.
  • The pandemic did appear to mute the economic impact potential of the travel that occurred this past summer. Over 56% said they decreased their spending on these trips to some degree, and 42.3% said they were more budget conscious.
  • One-in-five of American travelers report taking a staycation this summer. While over 60 percent said the staycation was mainly staying at home, two-thirds report doing at least one activity, such as day trips to area attractions and going to restaurants.
  • When it comes to a COVID-19 vaccine, 44.1% of American travelers said they would take it, although for the majority, some waiting period is preferred. Those who are currently less ready to travel are more willing to take the vaccine.

Pessimism still outweighs optimism about the pandemic’s course in America, but has stabilized over the last three weeks. Health concerns, while strong, remain the lowest they have been during the pandemic. And while we can’t shake our highly elevated fears of the virus’ impact on the national economy, concerns about the virus’ impact on personal finances are their lowest level since the pandemic began. This lessening of fear has translated to travel. The average rating of travel activities as “unsafe” continued to fall this week to the lowest levels they have been since March 15. Over 30.0% of American travelers are confident they can travel safely in the current environment, another 24.0% feel at least somewhat confident.

 

 

There thus has been a measured rise in the number of American travelers who are planning travel: this week, 78.3% report they have at least tentative trip plans—up from 75% last week. In fact, 37.0% now agree they will be traveling this Fall season—up 5% from last week and returning to mid-June levels. Excitement to travel in the near-term and openness to inspiration continue to grow. Those in a “ready to travel” mindset is at a pandemic-period high.

 

 

Nevertheless, in continuing to learn from the experiences of those who traveled during the pandemic summer, there is opportunity for the travel industry to work together to improve safety perceptions around travel—especially since the taking of trips inspires more confidence travel can be done safely. Among those who traveled by commercial airline this past summer, 52.8% report feeling unsafe against COVID-19 at some point(s) during their flight. Such feelings were not as widespread while at lodging properties, but still 27.7% report feeling unsafe against the virus sometime during their stay. Summer travelers most commonly saw masked and gloved employees, floor markings and other encouragements for social distancing at the lodging properties they stayed at this summer, however there was less observation of some of the top protocols travelers expressed they wanted lodging properties to adopt in the wake of COVID-19, such as providing guests with well-explained cleanliness protocols, masks, wipes and sanitizer.

 

 

While it is a positive sign for the travel industry that well over a third of American travelers took trips this past summer, the pandemic did appear to mute the economic impact potential of this travel. Trip activities seemed more limited or favoring free. Over 56.0% of these travelers said they decreased their spending on these trips to some degree, and 42.3% said they were more budget conscious.

 

 

One-in-five of American travelers report taking a staycation this summer, primarily because of COVID-19 concerns (57.2%) rather than an affinity for them (27.0%) or budget reasons (25.7%). While over 60 percent said the staycation was mainly staying at home, two-thirds report doing at least one activity, such as day trips to area attractions (28.0%) and going to restaurants (26.5%).

 

 

When it comes to a COVID-19 vaccine—at least one that is developed within the next several months—44.1% of American travelers said they would take it, although for the majority, some waiting period is preferred. Those who are currently less ready to travel are more willing to take the vaccine (49.7%).

 

 

A complimentary report of these key findings is available for you to download and share.
You can register for our online presentation of these findings Tuesday at 11:00am EST.
We appreciate your support of this research from our small but mighty team of devoted tourism researchers. If you would like further and deeper insights from the complete study, you can learn more here. Please consider donating or purchasing to support this research.
To make sure you receive notifications of our latest findings, you can sign up here.
If you need shareable graphics, content for presentations, video presentations and more, please visit our COVID-19 Insights Media page here.

What We Learned from Travelers in the Pandemic Summer

Despite record levels of health and financial concerns caused by COVID-19, over one-third of American travelers took a trip in the summer of 2020. During our industry update webinar on September 8th, Destination Analysts’ President and CEO, Erin Francis-Cummings, interviewed a panel of travelers who took a trip in the pandemic summer to explore what could be learned about improving safety perceptions and how the industry can inspire more trips.

Watch the video below for highlights from this discussion.
 

 

Takeaways:

 
Travelers faced shaming when sharing their trip plans. Summer travelers felt a certain level of fear, judgement and shame slung their way when they shared their trip plans with others, which has made them less comfortable and willing to share their current travel ideas beyond their close personal networks.

Strict and thorough practice and enforcement of pandemic related safety measures made these travelers feel safer. Visible mask wearing and social distancing among the public made travelers feel they could keep safe from COVID-19 during their summer trips. However, there was observation of unsafe behavior and environments. “Family-friendly” environments are perceived to enforce stricter guidelines compared to adults-only places such as bars and nightclubs, which are viewed to be more lax in safety protocols enforcement and more tolerant of poor pandemic etiquette. Hearing from others that safety regulations are being enforced boosts confidence.

Travel brought a respite from the stress of the pandemic. These summer travelers reported having moments of serenity in which they felt like everything was back to normal. The travel itself was even normal-seeming, albeit with less people and amenities available.

Travelers are spending less money on their trips, largely due to the unavailability of amenities they normally spend on. With services like 5-star restaurants and spas closed, and many attractions, as well, travelers spent far less than normal on their trips.

While the timing of their next trips remains uncertain, these travelers are still doing travel research online or asking for recommendations from friends and family. In fact, the anticipation of less travelers and less crowds further motivates them to take their next trip.

Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of September 7th

Over one-third of American travelers took a leisure trip in the Summer of COVID-19, with these trips providing a net increase in confidence that travel can be done safely right now. Meanwhile, based on American corporate workers anticipations, a full return to business travel may not be until April or later.

 

 

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 15th, Destination Analysts has surveyed 1,200+ American travelers about their thoughts, feelings, perceptions and behaviors surrounding travel in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and explored a variety of topics. The findings presented below represent data collected September 4th-6th.

Key Findings to Know:

  • Americans’ near term outlook on the pandemic is largely unchanged from last week, meaning pessimism remains in retreat. Strong concerns for COVID-19’s impact on personal health and financial safety are at or near the lowest levels recorded in the past 26 weeks.
  • Perceptions of travel activities’ safety—while still far from ideal—are the best they have been since the onset of the pandemic. Among the most confident they can travel safely right now are younger travelers and those in the South.
  • Over half of American travelers remain in a “ready to travel” versus “need more time” mindset and 75% continue to report that they have at least tentative trip plans.
  • The proportion comfortable with tourists visiting their own communities is among the highest it has been during the pandemic.
  • 13.0% of American travelers reported taking a trip for Labor Day, slightly lower than July Fourth (16.5%).
  • Over one-third of American travelers reports they took a leisure trip this past summer, with beaches and rural areas the most popular destinations. Over 80% of these travelers stayed overnight on these leisure trips, largely in friends/relatives homes and hotels, and over two-thirds said they researched the coronavirus-related rules and regulations in their trip destination.
  • Overall these summer trips provided a net increase in confidence that travel can be done safely right now.
  • 24.2% of American travelers who work for companies in which employees travel for business say that this travel has started again. Of those not yet back to business travel, a quarter anticipate this travel to return in January, but nearly half expect that it will be April or later.
  • Looking at how more (safe) travel can be inspired, online content, email, search engine marketing and social media are seemingly particularly effective.

Americans’ near term outlook on the pandemic is largely unchanged from last week, meaning pessimism remains in retreat. This week, 39.3% of American travelers think the pandemic situation will get worse in the United States in the next month (down 16 percentage points from one month ago), 38.1% think it will stay the same, and 22.6% think it will get better. Strong concerns for COVID-19’s impact on personal health and financial safety are at or near the lowest levels recorded in the past 26 weeks.

 

 

When it comes to travel, perceptions of travel activities’ safety—while still far from ideal—are the best they have been since the onset of the pandemic. Among the most confident they can travel safely right now are younger travelers and those in the South. Over half of all American travelers remain in a “ready to travel” versus “need more time” mindset, and 75% continue to report that they have at least tentative trip plans right now. Openness to travel inspiration improved again this week. In addition, the proportion comfortable with tourists visiting their own communities is among the highest it has been during the pandemic.

 

 

Looking back on the pandemic summer, over one-third (34.9%) of American travelers reports taking a leisure trip between June 1st and Labor Day (far fewer traveled for business or conferences). Over 80% of these travelers stayed overnight on these leisure trips, largely in friends/relatives homes and hotels but also in several other types of accommodations. As they had been expressing was their aspiration for months, beaches and rural areas were the most popular destinations. These trips were most commonly planned using online travel content, the opinions of friends and family, printed visitor guides and other social media content. Over two-thirds of these travelers said they researched the coronavirus-related rules and regulations in their trip destination.

 

 

July saw the highest percentage of Americans reporting travel this past summer season. Indeed, of the three national holidays since the onset of the pandemic, the Fourth of July had the highest reported rate of travel.

 

 

While some of these travelers reported feeling unsafe at times, overall these summer trips provided a net increase in confidence that travel can be done safely right now.

 

 

In looking at when corporate travel might catch up to leisure travel, 24.2% of American travelers who work for companies in which employees travel for business say that this travel has started again. Of the three-quarters whose companies are not yet back to business travel, less than 10% have announced a timeline for return. While a quarter anticipate their company’s business travel to return in January, nearly half expect that it will be in April or later.

 

 

Looking at how more (safe) travel can be inspired, American travelers—particularly younger ones—are receptive to travel messaging in many channels, with online content, email, search engine marketing and social media seemingly particularly effective.

 

 

A complimentary report of these key findings is available for you to download and share.
You can register for our online presentation of these findings Tuesday at 11:00am EST.
We appreciate your support of this research from our small but mighty team of devoted tourism researchers. If you would like further and deeper insights from the complete study, you can learn more here. Please consider donating or purchasing to support this research.
To make sure you receive notifications of our latest findings, you can sign up here.
If you need shareable graphics, content for presentations, video presentations and more, please visit our COVID-19 Insights Media page here.

How Were Americans Traveling Prior to Coronavirus?

 

Destination Analysts’ quarterly The State of the American Traveler Study has tracked American traveler sentiment, behaviors and opinions since 2006. The January 2020 Destinations Edition captured how Americans were thinking about and approaching travel before the onset of COVID-19. Read below for how much Americans were traveling and to which destinations, with whom they were traveling, where they aspired to visit, and what resources they looked to for inspiration. You can find further benchmarks of travel sentiment in the pre-COVID-19 period compared to now here. To see how Americans are currently thinking and feeling about travel, please see our latest traveler insights and updates.

How Americans Traveled for Leisure

 

In the 12 months prior to January 2020, the typical American leisure traveler took 4.2 trips (50 miles or more away from their home for purely leisure reasons.) The graphic below describes how these trips were taken.

 

 

Top Domestic Destinations

 

The chart below maps selected top domestic destinations by travelers’ familiarity (size of bubble), appeal (Y-axis) and likelihood of visitation (X-axis). In January 2020, cities like New York, Las Vegas, Orlando, Los Angeles and San Francisco topped the destinations Americans felt most likely to visit.

 

Expected Travel by Destination Types

 

In terms of what types of destinations Americans were planning to travel to in 2020, in January 2020, 74% of American travelers said they were going to take 1.9 leisure trips to cities and metropolitan areas. In contrast, only 0.6 trips of planned trips were to National Parks.

 

Destination Inspiration

 

In January 2020, word of mouth–either directly or through social media–was the most relied upon source American travelers turned to for travel inspiration. Online media was on the rise and less were relying on offline media for inspiration.

Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of August 31st

Updated 8/31 at 11:30AM EST

 

As Americans see travel as a means to achieving their desired emotional states, their prioritization of travel in their personal budgets is growing. But safety confidence in travel is still greatly needed.

 

 

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 15th, Destination Analysts has surveyed 1,200+ American travelers about their thoughts, feelings, perceptions and behaviors surrounding travel in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and explored a variety of topics. The findings presented below represent data collected August 28th-30th.

Key Findings to Know:

  • American travelers recorded another measured gain in optimism about the pandemic’s course in the next month.
  • The perception of travel activities as unsafe is the lowest it has been since June 15th.
  • Americans have also demonstrated improvement in their state of mind around travel readiness, and Fall travel expectations improved to 35.9% from a low of 29.8% last week.
  • Americans prioritization of travel in their personal budgets is growing. Now, 43.0% of American travelers say that leisure travel will be at least a somewhat high priority in their personal budget in the next year and a majority of American travelers say the pandemic has not negatively impacted the disposable income they have available for travel. However, they indeed plan on being more budget conscious on their trips than they were prior to the pandemic.
  • Although sentiment is turning more positive, the pandemic is nevertheless still impacting travel at a high rate. 49% of American travelers have cancelled a trip due to COVID-19 and trips for the upcoming national Labor Day and Thanksgiving holidays currently look to be off by half relative to 2019.
  • Americans may need more information and assurances to move them to take trips, as 46.1% report that they are “not very” or “not at all” confident that they can travel safely in the current environment. In comparison, 29.7% feel confident or very confident they can travel safely.
  • Americans see travel as a means to achieving their desired emotional states, with over a third of American travelers feeling that if they took a trip this year, the emotions most negatively impacted by the pandemic would strengthen.
  • When asked how travel marketers could best reach them, email is productive across all generations. Gen X and Boomers appear particularly receptive to search engine marketing right now, while Millennial and younger travelers like travel marketing via Facebook and Instagram.
  • Americans with trips planned for the remaining 4 months of 2020 showed the most enthusiasm for beaches and mountains—the latter notably higher than what was typical pre-pandemic.

American travelers recorded another measured gain in optimism about the pandemic’s course. This week, 23.0 percent feel the situation in the United States will improve in the next month and 37.2 percent think it will stay the same. While 39.9 percent continue to think it will get worse, this is down markedly from 53.7 percent one month ago. The proportion of American travelers with high degrees of concern for their personal and friends/family’s safety against the virus has dropped back to June levels after being heightened over the last two months while cases surged. However, concerns about the virus’ impact on their personal finances strengthened (60.2% are highly concerned, up from 56.0% last week).

When considering travel, the perception of travel activities as unsafe is the lowest it has been since June 15th. Americans have also demonstrated improvement in their state of mind around travel readiness—over half feel in a readiness mindset versus needing more time to feel up to consider it. For the near-term, excitement to take a potential getaway in the next month and openness to travel inspiration levels increased for the second week in a row, and Fall travel expectations improved to 35.9% from a low of 29.8% last week.

 

 

As they look out over the next 12 months, Americans continue to demonstrate greater optimism about their travel future. Now, 43.0% of American travelers say that leisure travel will be at least a somewhat high priority in their personal budget, up from 34.7% just six-weeks ago. Fortunately, a majority of American travelers say the pandemic has not negatively impacted the disposable income they have available for travel (62.7%). In fact, reported annual budgets for leisure travel have increased to an average of $3,258 from $2,721 in July. However, with over a third of American travelers and concerns about the virus impact on finances still elevated, American travelers are indeed planning on being more budget conscious on their trips than they were prior to the pandemic.

 

 

Although sentiment is turning more positive, the pandemic is nevertheless still impacting travel at a high rate–49% of American travelers have cancelled a trip due to COVID-19–with concerns about personally contracting the virus the primary driver for abandoning travel plans. The peak summer period bore a particularly significant share of the scrapped trips.

 

 

In addition, trips for the upcoming national Labor Day and Thanksgiving holidays currently look to be off by half relative to 2019. Americans’ travel plans for the Christmas holiday also appear to be muted relative to last year.

 

 

Perhaps most importantly, Americans may need more information and assurances to move them to take trips, especially as the strong majority do not believe the pandemic will be resolved before the end of the year. In total, 46.1% of American travelers report that they are “not very” or “not at all” confident that they can travel safely in the current environment. In comparison, 29.7% feel confident or very confident they can travel safely in the current environment.

When marketing travel right now, it’s especially beneficial to consider travelers’ emotional state, particularly those which they are most desiring of. Right now, feelings of safety, financial security, happiness, peace of mind and satisfaction are most important to American travelers right now. Unfortunately, the pandemic has significantly weakened Americans sense of the latter three emotional states, as well as excitement about the future. But Americans see travel as a means to achieving their desired emotional states, with over a third of American travelers feeling that if they took a trip this year, the emotions most negatively impacted by the pandemic would strengthen.

 

 

When asked how travel marketers could best reach them, email is productive across all generations. Gen X and Boomers appear particularly receptive to search engine marketing right now, while Millennial and younger travelers like travel marketing via Facebook and Instagram. As for what types of destinations that have the highest likelihood of generating excitement right now, Americans with trips planned for the remaining 4 months of 2020 showed the most enthusiasm for beaches and mountains—the latter notably higher than what was typical pre-pandemic*. While excitement about cities and theme park destinations still exists, enthusiasm for these destination types is farthest off from pre-pandemic norms, at least for the rest of 2020.

*Note: Our latest findings on aspiration for ski/snow destinations can be found here.

 

 

A complimentary report of these key findings is available for you to download and share.
You can register for our online presentation of these findings Tuesday at 11:00am EST.
We appreciate your support of this research from our small but mighty team of devoted tourism researchers. If you would like further and deeper insights from the complete study, you can learn more here. Please consider donating or purchasing to support this research.
To make sure you receive notifications of our latest findings, you can sign up here.
If you need shareable graphics, content for presentations, video presentations and more, please visit our COVID-19 Insights Media page here.

Outlook for Overnight Ski/Snowboarding Trips This Season

 

 

It comes as no surprise that the coronavirus has caused major disruptions to American’s travel plans. The summer season, typically a bustling time for travel and exploration, saw a decrease of 120 million trips compared to 2019 according to AAA. Now six months into this pandemic and with summer largely in our rearview mirrors, will the ongoing pandemic have a similar impact on the upcoming ski season? As part of Destination Analysts’ weekly Coronavirus Traveler Sentiment Index study, we surveyed 1,200 American travelers and asked them about their potential ski/snowboarding trips this winter season.

Although few (22.9%) feel taking a ski/snowboarding vacation this upcoming season is “safe” or “very safe,” in the context of other travel activities tracked, it is considered more safe than visiting amusement parks, dining in restaurants or staying in a hotel. When we look specifically at travelers who have taken a ski/snowboard trip pre-pandemic, their safety ratings for this trip type are even higher (57.9%) and by generation, millennials are more comfortable taking a ski/snowboarding trip this winter (32.6%) than older travelers.

 

 

This is likely due to the combination of enthusiasm about ski/snowboard trips, and optimism about the pandemic’s course. More millennials have taken a ski/snowboard trip in the past 3 years, and more millennials are likely to take a ski/snowboard trip in the next 3 years than average American travelers. When asked if they expect the Coronavirus situation will be resolved before the end of this year, Millennials were also more likely to agree (28.9% vs 19.3%).

 

 

When it comes to timing for these overnight ski/snowboarding trips, January and February appear to be the preferred months with about one-third of travelers (who said they were “likely” or “very likely” to take a ski/snowboard vacation in the next 3 years) choosing each as their likely trip month.

How do these upcoming ski trippers anticipate traveling to their snowy vacation destinations? Half (51.6%) will travel solely by car and a third (34.7%) will fly. Interestingly, millennials from this group are even more likely to travel to their ski/snowboarding destinations in the upcoming season by air (42.9%).

 

 

With these younger travelers being less hesitant to fly, the opportunity for them to discover new ski/snowboarding destinations is apparent. In fact, millennials are almost twice as more interested in visiting new ski/snowboarding destinations than the average American traveler (38.4% vs. 22.5%). With their higher levels of optimism about the pandemic’s course, high enthusiasm for taking overnight ski/snowboarding vacations in the upcoming season and openness to discover new ski/snowboard trip destinations, the coronavirus seems to be “snow problem” for millennials this winter.

Engaging Millennial Meeting Planners

The Millennial generation will soon comprise the greatest number of decision-making professionals, so during our webinar on August 18th, Senior Research Director, Myha Gallagher, interviewed a panel of Millennial-aged meeting planners to discuss potential changes and trends in the meetings and events industry to see how travel providers can and should evolve to meet their needs.

Watch the video below for highlights from this discussion.
 

 

After our discussion, we followed up with these planners to dig more deeply into some of the topics covered in the panel. Here are the key takeaways:

 
Although Millennials are known for their prolific social media usage, email is the best way to reach these planners. You can increase the chances of younger planners engaging with your email content if you include a catchy subject line that hints at what is new and exciting about your destination/hotel.

If you are also trying to engage younger planners on social, LinkedIn is the best way to do so. Although there is some interest in following general destination social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram, Millennial planners generally use these channels in a personal capacity rather than professional meeting planning tools.

Communication style should strike a balance between “professional” and “personable.” These planners appreciate a more humanistic touch when it comes to travel providers reaching out to them, but straying too far into casual turns-of-phrase can be a turn off.

 

You can also read the full Q&A below:

 
Q: Do you feel that most of your time is spent updating stakeholders, like your Boards and keeping them up to date on your site selections, health and safety initiatives, etc.?

– “While we are in the site selection process, yes, it’s pretty all consuming. We often try to book 3-4 years ahead, and then focus on the meeting planning for a couple of years before we have to pick up the site selection process again. We are wary to book too far out due to liability and the potential of the meeting needs or format changing.”

 

Q: What’s the best way to share video and other destination content and updates with Millennial Meeting Planners?

– “Email is good – put something in the subject line about a tip to help limit liability, or a great new destination we might not have considered.”

 

Q: As a planner, how do you broaden your horizons and learn about new destinations to get out of the “we have always held meetings in the same old cities” without exploring new destinations through their CVB’s?

– “I get a couple of meeting planner magazines I like to flip through. The most compelling eye-opener I ever saw was a 10-minute talk kicking off the MPI Congress in Indianapolis, IN. They had the Indy CVB there and they shared facts about Indy that I never knew as far as meeting planning, and that has put it on the map for me.”

 

Q: How do you use social media for your work and do you think that’s a good way to reach you – i.e. through LinkedIn and Facebook/Instagram?

– “LinkedIn I use actively for work and will respond quickly to a message directed at me if it comes from an industry partner, and not just a random solicitation. Facebook/Instagram is personal and while I am connected with some industry “friends” I do not use it as a business means.”

 

Q: Would meeting planners use or follow a dedicated destination social media account that was focused on meetings and things to do with a meeting in a specific destination? Or would you rather follow the general destination’s social media account?

– “General – many of my meetings jump around the country or the world, so I’m always keeping my eye out for the next place we should go. I’ve not been tied closely enough to one city to just want to keep up-to-date on what’s going on there.”

 

Q: Should younger generations be trained to write more professionally in emails? Or should we embrace their conversational style as a generational identity?

– “I appreciate professionalism even as a millennial, and don’t like getting overly-casual emails. Now if we get on the phone, feel free to be much more casual. I prefer to feel like we are making a genuine connection as we build the relationship.”

Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of August 24th

For Americans with trip plans in the remainder of 2020, beaches, destinations they have visited before, restaurants, time with loved ones, and finding peace of mind are top-of-mind.

 

 

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 15th, Destination Analysts has surveyed 1,200+ American travelers about their thoughts, feelings, perceptions and behaviors surrounding travel in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and explored a variety of topics. The findings presented below represent data collected August 21st-23rd.

Key Findings to Know:

  • Americans’ optimism about the pandemic improving grew this past week. Nearly one in five feel the pandemic will be resolved before the conclusion of 2020.
  • Three-quarters of American travelers continue to report that they at least have tentative leisure trip plans in the next 16 months, although leisure air travel still looks to take until at least 2021 until Americans are back to pre-pandemic comfort levels.
  • For the remainder of 2020, approximately one-third of American travelers have at least tentative trip plans.
  • In looking further at Americans with plans to travel this year, nearly half say that the COVID-19 situation has changed the travel experiences they are seeking. These travelers continue to most commonly express that spending time with loved ones is paramount, and look to be prioritizing enjoying nature, avoiding crowds. The pursuit of relaxation and finding peace of mind, amidst having fun and happiness will also be key in these travelers’ plans.
  • In terms of the destinations that will be chosen for trips in the remainder of 2020, 70.4% of these travelers say they are likely to return to a destination they have previously visited, 42.0% still plan to visit a beach this year, 37.8% say they will visit a city, and 34.8% name small towns and rural areas as a trip destination.
  • Half of American travelers report dining out at a restaurant in the past two months and 20.5% say they have visited an outdoor attraction. For those who have not engaged in these activities, general coronavirus safety concerns, particularly the ability to maintain social distancing, are the top reasons for their avoidance.
  • When it comes to the pandemic’s impact on in-person education and the consequent travel plans of parents of school-age children, 37.2% say the uncertainty has made them more likely to travel this Fall, while 20.4% say it makes them less likely.

Americans’ optimism about the pandemic improving grew this past week. Now 42.7% feel it will get worse in the next month, down from 49.1% last week and 22.0% feel it will get better, up from 18.2%. Nearly one in five feel the pandemic will be resolved before the conclusion of 2020 (19.2%). High levels of concern for personal health and financial safety, while elevated, remain stable. About 40% of American travelers continue to report feeling comfortable undertaking leisure activities within their own communities. Perceptions of the safety of travel-related activities overall remains at mid June levels, rather than the heightened levels recorded throughout July.

 

 

Three-quarters of American travelers continue to report that they at least have tentative leisure trip plans in the next 16 months. However, leisure air travel still looks to take until at least 2021 until Americans are back to pre-pandemic comfort levels as 45.0% say they are pushing their next air trip out to mid 2021 or later. For the remainder of 2020, approximately one-third of American travelers have at least tentative trip plans.

The pandemic, of course, has impacted how Americans consider travel and their trip experiences—even those who already have trips planned for the remainder of the year. Nearly half of these travelers say that the COVID-19 situation has changed the travel experiences they are seeking (49.1%).

 

 

In looking further at Americans with plans to travel this year, these travelers continue to most commonly express that spending time with loved ones is paramount, and look to be prioritizing enjoying nature and avoiding crowds. The pursuit of relaxation and finding peace of mind, amidst having fun and happiness will also be key in these travelers’ plans. Nevertheless, while nearly 40% say they will prioritize excitement and energy and seeing new places, there are many who say they will prioritize budget travel and staying close to home. In fact, 33% say they will be taking a staycation* this year and 53.9% say they will be taking a regional trip under 200 miles.
(*Note: Unfortunately, over half of staycationers say that this will mean mostly staying at home instead of exploring or staying overnight in a local hotel).

 

 

In terms of the destinations that will be chosen for trips in the remainder of 2020, 70.4% of these travelers say they are likely to return to a destination they have previously visited, up from 60.7% the week of June 15. 42.0% still plan to visit a beach this year, 37.8% say they will visit a city, and 34.8% name small towns and rural areas as trip destination. Again, the prioritization of spending time with loved ones is clear, as it tops the trip activities they most want to do, followed by dining out in restaurants and sightseeing.

Given what Americans with trip plans this year most say they want to do on their trips, it was a good time to examine recent dining out and visiting outdoor attractions behaviors. Half of American travelers report dining out at a restaurant in the past two months and 20.5% say they have visited an outdoor attraction. For both activities, less than 5% of those who report doing them said they felt unsafe during their experience. What is deterring others from patronizing these types of businesses? For restaurants, those who haven’t dined in a restaurant lately cite general coronavirus safety concerns, including social distancing, and thus feeling takeout continues to be safer. Similarly, for outdoor attractions, general COVID concerns, particularly social distancing, are top deterrents. For both activities, about one third of those who haven’t done them recently cited their concern about the behavior of others as a reason for their avoidance.

 

 

When it comes to the pandemic’s impact on in-person education and the consequent travel plans of parents of school-age children, these travelers were asked if any uncertainty about in-person education has made them more or less likely to travel this Fall. In total, 37.2% say the uncertainty has made them more likely to travel, while 20.4% say it makes them less likely. Interestingly, those that are certain that their kids will have in-person education this school year were even more apt to say that they were likelier to travel this Fall.

 

 

A complimentary report of these key findings is available for you to download and share.
You can register for our online presentation of these findings Tuesday at 11:00am EST.
We appreciate your support of this research from our small but mighty team of devoted tourism researchers. If you would like further and deeper insights from the complete study, you can learn more here. Please consider donating or purchasing to support this research.
To make sure you receive notifications of our latest findings, you can sign up here.
If you need shareable graphics, content for presentations, video presentations and more, please visit our COVID-19 Insights Media page here.

Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of August 17th

Increasing feelings of safety are driving more positivity about tourism—both outbound and within their own communities. And as Americans look out to upcoming holidays, there is a gradually increasing expectation to travel for these occasions.

 

 

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 15th, Destination Analysts has surveyed 1,200+ American travelers about their thoughts, feelings, perceptions and behaviors surrounding travel in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and explored a variety of topics. The findings presented below represent data collected August 14th-16th.

Key Findings to Know:

  • Pandemic-related health and financial safety concerns have dropped to levels last seen in mid-June. Although there are still notable levels of pessimism, less Americans are feeling the pandemic will worsen in the next month.
  • The proportion of American travelers who feels comfortable going out in their own community now exceeds the proportion who do not. And they are getting more comfortable with tourism to their own communities.
  • Safety perceptions of travel activities have improved overall, nearing June levels. Thus, the percent of Americans who report being in a “ready to travel” state of mind is now higher than those who report needing more time to feel ready.
  • Those with trip plans for the remainder of the year are commonly prioritizing getting away from crowds and enjoying nature, in addition to spending time with loved ones.
  • As Americans look out to upcoming holidays, there is a gradually increasing expectation to travel for these occasions: Labor Day (12.6%), Thanksgiving (15.8%) and Christmas (20.0%).
  • Looking even further out over 2021, three-quarters of Americans have at least tentative trip plans right now. Just 25% say they have no plans to travel through 2021.
  • About 30% would be up for taking a flight in the next month, although there is somewhat more comfort with direct flights than those that require a connection.
  • A majority of American travelers approve of travel restriction policies imposed by state governments on travelers from high outbreak areas.

This week, Americans report feeling safer in a number of areas that affect their travel feelings and behaviors.

Pandemic-related health and financial safety concerns have dropped and are at levels last seen in mid-June. Although there are still notable levels of pessimism, less Americans are feeling the pandemic will worsen in the next month. The proportion who feel comfortable going out in their own communities exceeds the proportion who do not. And while 56.5% still do not want visitors in their communities yet, this is the lowest this sentiment has been since the week of June 15th. Also, for the first time since June 29th, the percent of Americans who said they would be happy seeing an ad promoting tourism to their community has exceeded the percent who would be unhappy.

 

 

Perceptions of how safe travel activities are have improved overall, nearing June levels. Staycation-ing and the avoidance of conferences and group meetings have declined. Given all these sentiments, the percent of Americans who report being in a “ready to travel” state of mind is now higher than those who report needing more time to feel ready.

 

 

Those with trip plans for the remainder of the year are commonly prioritizing getting away from crowds and enjoying nature in addition to spending time with loved ones. However, there is also an important proportion who are prioritizing experiencing new places and excitement in their travel.

 

 

As Americans look out over upcoming holidays, there is a gradual expectation to travel for these occasions: Labor Day (12.6%), Thanksgiving (15.8%) and Christmas (20.0%). Looking even further out over 2021, three-quarters of Americans have at least tentative trip plans. Just 25% say they have no plans to travel through 2021.

 

 

When it comes to air travel, approximately 30 percent would be up for taking a flight in the next month, although half of this group would still be nervous. There is somewhat more comfort with direct flights than those that require a connection. When asked to rate the most unsafe aspects of air travel right now, the behavior of other passengers is far and away what concerns travelers the most.

 

 

Current domestic travel restriction policies intended to curb the spread of COVID-19 seem to largely be accepted at the moment. When asked about the policies of some U.S. states requiring that travelers from high coronavirus-risk states take actions such as presenting a negative COVID-19 test or quarantining for 14 days, 62.4% of American travelers say they approve or strongly approve of such travel restrictions right now. 24.6% feel neutral and 12.9% disapprove.

A complimentary report of these key findings is available for you to download and share.
You can register for our online presentation of these findings Tuesday at 11:00am EST.
We appreciate your support of this research from our small but mighty team of devoted tourism researchers. If you would like further and deeper insights from the complete study, you can learn more here. Please consider donating or purchasing to support this research.
To make sure you receive notifications of our latest findings, you can sign up here.
If you need shareable graphics, content for presentations, video presentations and more, please visit our COVID-19 Insights Media page here.