Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of June 29th

After consistently improving throughout May and early June, with the alarming rise in cases in some of the most popular and populous areas of the country, American travel sentiment has reversed course—now nearly 4 in 10 say they don’t have plans to travel for the remainder of 2020. Travel advertising, nevertheless, still has the ability to inspire happiness, particularly if it communicates many affordable, fun things to do in a safe, uncrowded destination.

 

 

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 June 26th-28th.

Key Findings to Know:

  • 60 percent of American travelers feel the pandemic is going to get worse in the US—up 10 percentage points in one week.
  • Trip cancellations for July and August jumped up, and now a high of 37.4% of American travelers say they have no trip plans for the remainder of 2020.
  • Three quarters of American travelers are supportive of 14-day quarantine policies for travelers from states with high incidences of coronavirus.
  • Despite the backslide in sentiment, 35% of American travelers say they would have at least some likelihood to take a leisure trip that they have not already considered if a good opportunity presented itself soon.
  • The most commonly important trip destination attributes are uncrowded, not-too-expensive, relaxing, and fun.
  • Over half of American travelers say that seeing a travel ad would make them feel happy.
  • The features of a travel ad that would inspire the most excitement right now include discounts, pricing, safety and things to do information, as well as beach images.

Much can change in two-weeks in the time of COVID-19. With the alarming recent rise in cases in the US, concerns regarding contracting the virus returned to the levels they were at the first of May—with over 70 percent expressing high levels of concern about personally or friends and family getting it. Financial safety concerns are also rising. The percent of American travelers who feel the pandemic is going to get worse in the US in the next month jumped to 60.6%, up 10 percentage points in just one week.

 

 

When it comes to travel, for the second straight week, the perceived safety of travel activities generally declined again, returning back to levels seen a month ago. As such, three quarters are supportive of existing or potential 14-day quarantine policies for travelers from states with high incidences of coronavirus. There is even three times as much support for mask enforcement policies as opposition. With the backslide in travel sentiment, excitement for near-term travel and openness to travel inspiration also further declined from the pandemic-period high recorded June 1st. Trip cancellations for July and August jumped up this week, and now 37.4 percent of American travelers say they have no trip plans for the remainder 2020. Nearly 30 percent say they will avoid destinations they would normally consider visiting for the remainder of the year, and over 60% of these travelers say it will be in the second half of next year or later before they will consider these destinations again. 40% are now saying they will put off their next air trip for at least a year from now, and 45.4% feel nervous going too far from home for a trip. Nearly 60% report feeling like they will simply enjoy travel more next year rather than this year.

Despite the backslide in travel sentiment, 35% of American travelers say they would have a least some likelihood to take a leisure trip that they have not already considered in the next three months if a good opportunity presented itself. In choosing the destinations they want to visit, 27.3% say it is essentially important that the destination be uncrowded—over 60% of American travelers report being nervous visiting destinations that might be crowded. Otherwise, the other attributes that remain most important are not too expensive, relaxing, and fun.

 

 

Travel advertising also still has the ability to inspire joy, with over half of American travelers saying that seeing a travel ad right now would make them feel happy. Compared to a month ago, travelers are more desiring of advertising tones that are friendly, fun and inspirational.

 

 

When asked to imagine an ideal travel ad and cite the features that would inspire the most excitement to travel right now, Americans most agreed on discounts, pricing, safety and things to do information, as well as beach images. Consider also that 55.4% say they will do a lot of extra planning before traveling in this environment.

 

 

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 June 22nd

Concerns about contracting COVID-19 have risen back up, but a majority of American travelers still plan to travel in this environment—even taking multiple trips in the remainder of this year. Meanwhile a perceived lack of appropriate pandemic-etiquette behaviors within their own communities is affecting people’s openness to tourists in town.

 

 

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 June 19th-21st.

Key Findings to Know:

With cases rising in several areas of the country, Americans concern about personally or friends/family contracting COVID-19 increased this week. Now half of American travelers feel the coronavirus situation will get worse in the US in the next month and less than 20% feel it will get better. Americans’ perceived safety of various travel activities also worsened this week, returning to the levels they were at 3 weeks ago, and this has caused some to reverse their their travel readiness. However, the increase in outbreaks has not appeared to further rattle their sense of financial security, as concerns about the virus’ impact on their personal finances and the national economy decreased. Baby Boomers do not feel as threatened by the virus in terms of their personal finances, but have graver concerns about its effect on the national economy.

 

 

The disproportionate havoc the pandemic has wreaked on travel can be seen in what activities Americans have been committing their leisure time to relative to their pre-COVID 19 lifestyle priorities. Prior to the outbreak, 6 in 10 said that leisure travel was among their highest lifestyle priorities—only behind spending time with family. Yet only 12% report having done any leisure travel in the past month. Meanwhile, Americans have been busying themselves with activities that were far likelier to be a low priority in their lifestyles prior to COVID-19, from gardening to social media.

 

 

The coronavirus outbreak also continues to adversely impact trips, with a notable increase this week in pandemic-related trip cancellations in the fall months due to the coronavirus. But there are indicators that these trips may be replaced with other travel. A month ago, 25% of American travelers said the would avoid all travel in the six month period after coronavirus; now just 7% say that. The average American traveler reports they will take 1.8 road trips and 1.0 trip by commercial airline by the end of the year. Excitement to take a trip in the next month increased from last week, as did openness to travel inspiration. Given this openness, travelers currently say they are most receptive to destination marketing in searches and social.

 

 

Meanwhile, a perceived lack of appropriate pandemic-etiquette behaviors within their own communities is affecting people’s openness to tourists in town. While many American travelers have felt positive emotions around the reopening of the economy, anxiety and frustration remain present.

 

 

After reaching a nine-week low last week, the percent of American travelers who say they do not want visitors coming to their own community right now returned to 56.8%. As shown in the infographic below, observing unsafe behavior by their fellow residents appears to contribute to this sentiment. Trust in people to behave safely should increase comfort in travel and tourism overall.

 

 

A presentation file summarizing 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 June 15th

As Americans begin to travel again, many are feeling drawn to destinations they are familiar with, rather than the siren of exploration.

 

 

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. The findings presented below represent data collected June 12th-14th.

Key Findings to Know:

  • Expectations about the virus’ course have dampened.
  • Still, nearly 70 percent will take at least one leisure trip this year.
  • The majority of American travelers feel they are informed about potential Coronavirus-related risks involved with traveling.
  • American travelers generally give a thumbs up to the hotel and airline industries’ communication about measures they are taking to protect consumers.
  • Some 4 in 10 American travelers remain lacking in confidence that they can travel safely in the current environment.
  • A majority of Americans who will be traveling in 2020 say they will avoid crowded destinations.
  • Many travelers are feeling drawn to destinations they are familiar with, rather than the siren of exploration.
  • Poor “pandemic etiquette” behavior, which is then outed in media, will indeed adversely affect the desirability of and aspiration for travel destinations.

As a number of coronavirus outbreaks have recently emerged, expectations about the virus’ course in the United States have dampened. The optimism gap has widened again, with more Americans expecting the situation to get worse and fewer expecting it will get better. Some travelers that thought they would take trips this year have walked that back for now—this week there is an uptick in Americans saying they have no plans to travel in 2020 (although, about 70 percent still say they will take at least one leisure trip this year).

 

 

The majority of American travelers feel they are informed about potential Coronavirus-related risks involved with traveling. Heightened feelings of being informed are correlated to increased travel confidence. Still, some 4 in 10 American travelers remain lacking in confidence that they can travel safely in the current environment.

 

 

How do traveling consumers currently rate the travel industry’s performance in communicating measures they have taken to keep travelers safe from this coronavirus? While it is understood that the hotel, airline and cruise industries don’t necessarily speak in collective voices, overall the hotel industry is seen as generally doing a good job communicating, and a majority also rate the airline industry highly. The cruise industry appears to need more widespread communication about their evolving health and safety practices. Those travelers who demonstrate high degrees of travel readiness rate the communication of the travel industry much better.

 

 

In terms of the deeper impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on travel behaviors—at least in the near-term—a majority of Americans who will be traveling in 2020 say they will avoid cruises and crowded destinations.

 

 

In addition many travelers are feeling drawn to destinations they are familiar with, rather than the siren of exploration. Over 60 percent said it was likely that the primary destination of their next leisure trip is one they have visited before. When asked about their interest in visiting destinations for the first time versus destinations they are familiar with, 37.7 percent reported that, in the current environment, destinations they are familiar with are more—or much more—appealing.

 

 

Finally, poor “pandemic etiquette” behavior by others—and a perceived lack of official control over tempering that behavior—which is then outed in media will indeed adversely affect the desirability of and aspiration for travel destinations. When asked to think of a destination they are interested in visiting, then imagine if they saw saw media coverage of that destination being crowded or people not maintaining appropriate distance from each other, and then asked how that would affect their interest in visiting, 61.2 percent of American travelers said it would consequently make them less or much less interested in visiting that destination. This week, two-thirds of American travelers report seeing such kinds of coverage in the media.

A presentation file summarizing 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 June 8th

More Americans feel ready to travel and are exhibiting strong conviction about their upcoming travel plans, although safety remains an integral part of their trip decision-making process.

 

 

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. The findings presented below represent data collected June 5th-7th.

Key Findings to Know:

  • American travelers’ feelings about their health, financial and travel safety continue to improve.
  • More Americans report they are already traveling or ready to travel.
  • 70 percent will take at least one leisure trip in the remainder of 2020.
  • Over three-quarters have a developed sense of where and when their next leisure trip will take place and the majority say there is little chance of cancellation.
  • 40 percent say their next road trip will take place this Summer.
  • Safety considerations are still important to travelers’ decision-making, from which destination they choose to visit to the hotels they select.
  • Younger generations are likelier to use a diverse set of social media and digital tools for their trip research, while Baby Boomers are more likely to concentrate their travel research activity on web searches.
  • Four in ten conventions/conference travelers would be happy to attend a convention in the Fall.

American travelers’ feelings about their health and financial safety continue to improve and perceptions of the safety of travel related activities are now better than they were in mid-March.

 

 

More Americans report they are already traveling or feel ready to travel compared to last week, and 70 percent continue to say they will take at least one leisure trip in the remainder of this year. Younger travelers —those in the Millennial and GenZ generations—and travelers in the Southern U.S. continue to be most excited to travel in the next month and open to travel inspiration.

Americans are also exhibiting conviction about their leisure travel plans, rather than tentativeness. In looking at their next leisure trip, over three-quarters (76.4%) have a developed sense of where and when this travel will take place. There is also a notable degree of confidence that this trip will happen, in spite of coronavirus issues that may arise: 52.4% say there is absolutely no—or only a slight—chance they will cancel this next trip. Nevertheless, safety considerations are still important to travelers’ decision-making, from which destination they choose for this trip, to their selection of lodging and transportation options. The majority of American travelers continue to opt for beach, outdoor and rural type experiences for their next leisure trips.

 

 

For their research and planning of this next trip, American travelers are now largely looking directly to travel providers and travel content producers rather than sources like the CDC—perhaps an additional display of their confidence about navigating the coronavirus situation. Younger generations are likelier to use a diverse set of social media and digital tools for their travel research for this next trip, while Baby Boomers are more likely to concentrate their travel research activity on web searches.

 

 

Many American travelers continue to say their next road trip will be this summer, with 40% listing June, July or August as their timing. About half that number say their next trip by air will occur in the summer; 30% say their the next commercial airline trip will be September or later in 2020, with the remainder putting it off until 2021 or later. This week, an increased number of Americans reported they have at least tentative leisure trip plans in the months of June, August, October, November and December.

To understand how employee feelings may play into when business and convention travel return, this week a series of questions were asked to gauge emotions around this type of travel in the Summer and Fall. Nearly half of employed Americans reported they would be unhappy if their employer asked them to take an out-of-state business trip in July; meanwhile, about a quarter would be happy to. However, 40.8% of those that typically travel for conventions and conferences said they would be happy if they were asked to attend a convention in the Fall (35.3% said they would be unhappy). As of this week, 25.0% of convention/conference travelers say they have at least a tentative plan to attend a group meeting in the remainder of 2020.

 

 

A presentation file summarizing 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 June 1st

Americans continue to exhibit signs of feeling safer and have the travel plans to prove it.

 

 

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. The findings presented below represent data collected May 29th-31st.

Key Findings to Know:

  • Americans continue to exhibit greater feelings of safety, including towards travel.
  • One in five are already traveling or ready to travel with no hesitations. These Americans have less concerns surrounding the virus, and are more likely to prioritize having new experiences in their lives.
  • Openness to travel inspiration and excitement to take a getaway in the next month jumped up this week.
  • The proportion of American travelers who have at least tentative trip plans in 2020 grew to nearly 7-in-10 and Americans’ next air and road trips will be sooner than they reported last week.
  • Travel is commonly seen as integral to health and wellness.
  • Road trips, staying at a beach resort, and visiting national and other parks are among the highest rated relaxing travel experiences.
  • American travelers are also getting more comfortable with tourists in their own communities.

Americans continue to exhibit greater feelings of safety, including in their perceptions of travel activities.

One in five are now already traveling or ready to travel with no hesitations. These Americans have less concerns about the impact of the virus, are more optimistic about its course. They are more likely to prioritize having new experiences in their lives and seek joy and relaxation. Conversely, these travelers are less likely to avoid long haul travel and be motivated by a staycation message. They are also more likely to be Caucasian and between 41 and 55 years old (GenX).

 

 

Openness to travel inspiration and excitement to take a getaway in the next month jumped up this week, plus Americans’ next air and road trips will be sooner than they were reporting last week. The proportion of American travelers who have at least tentative trip plans in 2020 grew to nearly 70 percent, and the months of July through November saw increases in the percent of travelers reporting they have plans in them.

 

 

What’s motivating the return to travel? It appears that travel is commonly seen as integral to health and wellness, with two-thirds of those prioritizing their emotional well-being and finding joy in their lives saying that leisure travel will be important in helping them do so. The majority of Americans who are prioritizing their stress management think that vacations are a good way to do so. What’s stressing them out? Worries about coronavirus first, then work and their finances.

After spending time with friends and family, road trips, staying at a beach resort, and visiting national and other parks are among the highest rated relaxing travel experiences.

 

 

Not only are American travelers feeling safer going out in their own communities they are also getting more comfortable with tourists in town. Three in ten even say they would be happy to see an advertisement promoting their community as a place for tourism.

A presentation file summarizing 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 May 25th

American travelers continue a slow march towards feeling safer, but the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the industry’s future—far worse than what was seen in the Great Recession.

 

 

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. The findings presented below represent data collected May 22nd-24th.

Key Findings to Know:

  • American travelers continue a slow march towards feeling safer.
  • The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the industry’s future, with significant declines in American travel intentions, spending and sentiments from January 2020—and worse than what was seen in the Great Recession.
  • Air travel, non-private transportation and indoor attractions are seen as the least safe aspects of the common travel journey.
  • A majority of travelers still do not yet feel that either a hotel or Airbnb/vacation home rental experience are safe right now.
  • Only 5.9% reported taking a Memorial Day weekend trip.
  • Younger travelers will very likely be key to many destinations’ and travel providers’ recovery.

American travelers continue their slow march towards feeling safer. This week brought another improvement in their concerns about personally contracting the virus (6.6/10), their friends or family contracting it (7.0/10, an 11-week low), the impact the virus has on their personal finances (6.4/10—near the level it was the week of March 15) and its impact on the national economy (7.8/10, the lowest its been since March 15). Perceptions of the safety of various travel activities are nearing what was recorded the week of March 15th when we began this measurement (and before the most dramatic drop in safety perceptions, which occurred between March 15 and 22nd). The proportion agreeing they are going to avoid all travel until the coronavirus situation is blown over in their mind is also near the level it was March 15th (61.1%). Opinion that the coronavirus situation will get better in the U.S. in the next month again increased from the dip seen the week of May 8th (32.3%).

 

 

However, these improvements remain gradual and incremental, and the travel industry still shows a long journey back to where it was. (Important Note: To see the profound impact the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked on the travel industry, you can find a full summary comparing American travel intentions, spending and sentiments in January 2020 to this week of May 25th—as well as to the Great Recession and back to 2006—here) In addition to the significant drops in expected trip volume and spending on travel, this week the percent saying they will take a staycation rather than a vacation this summer (57.6%) and the percent saying they are going to wait until 2021 to travel again (32.6%) both reached a high.

Health and safety remain central to this measured outlook and behaviors toward travel, and this is profoundly seen in current perceptions of air travel. Over one-third of airline travelers still characterize traveling onboard an airplane as “very unsafe” (and another quarter say it is “somewhat unsafe”). While they show lesser concerns about the boarding gate/waiting areas and TSA security checkpoints, many Americans are looking to put off their next air trip until 2021 or later.

 

 

It’s imperative to the industry’s recovery that travelers feel they will be safe in every aspect of their journey, and certainly travel industry related businesses are working hard to ensure this is a reality. To examine where the strongest points of resistance may be and/or which experiences may need more safety guidelines communicated, we asked travelers to rate what they feel are the TOP THREE most unsafe components of a common travel experience. Right now, taking public transportation, traveling onboard the airplane, visiting indoor attractions in their trip destination, and traveling in taxis/Ubers/Lyfts are most agreed upon as the least safe aspects of a potential trip.

 

 

Although lodging was not as commonly chosen as the least safe aspect of a typical trip, it is important to understand the degree to which travelers are feeling they will be safe at Airbnbs/vacation home rentals (often perceived as easier to socially distance but without the formalized levels of housekeeping/sanitation) and hotels (often perceived as being more difficult to avoid other travelers but with the ability to enact strict sanitation protocols). Staying in a hotel is currently perceived as safe by 27.6% of American travelers and staying in an Airbnb/vacation home rental by 21.3%. Note that younger travelers are much more trusting of Airbnb/vacation home rental safety compared to older travelers.

With Memorial Day weekend traditionally considered the (un)official start of the summer travel season–and now the first national holiday celebrated during the COVID-19 pandemic, but with all 50 states under loosened restrictions, this made for an interesting study. Did Americans, in fact, travel? As of the morning of May 24th—the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend 2020—just 5.9% of American travelers reported they were taking a trip this holiday. Of those that went on a trip, 42.7% made the decision to take it within the last week. Similarly, a recent Harris Poll conducted about Memorial Day travel plans found that 95% of the American population believed it was too soon to travel. In addition, AAA declined to put out its annual Memorial Day travel estimate citing COVID-19’s impact on the accuracy of their data, but expected it to be a record low in their two decades of this forecast.

 

 

Younger travelers will very likely be key to many destinations’ and travel providers’ recovery. Last week we reported that Millennial travelers will be at the forefront of the industry’s recovery, due to their relatively higher sense of safety for themselves and travel activities, combined with the ability to motivate them to travel with discounts —things that we continue to see this week. Nearly 40 percent of Millennial travelers report they will make travel at least a somewhat high priority in their lifestyle—double the number of Baby Boomers who said the same—and plan to spend $3,000 on leisure travel in the next three months–$1,000 more than Baby Boomers report. They also plan to visit a more diverse set of destinations in the next year.

A presentation file summarizing these key findings is available for you to download and share.
 
You can register for our online presentation of these findings—including a panel discussion with travelers from states who were first to re-open their economies—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 May 18th

As Americans gradually open back up to travel, they are making plans for their trips—the likes of which include beaches, parks, social distancing and hand sanitizer.

 

 

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. The findings presented below represent data collected May 15th-17th.

Key Findings to Know:

  • American travelers are demonstrating increased comfort with (or in spite of) their concerns surrounding COVID-19.
  • Feelings about the virus and travel are not uniform–geographically, demographically or psychograpically.
  • American travelers are opening back up to attending conferences and conventions.
  • Travel planning is happening.
  • Marketing could be effective in swaying travelers to choose a specific destination.
  • Travelers need destination-level information on safety.
  • Rural residents are the least comfortable with tourists presently, setting up potential tensions with travelers desiring the types of assets found in these places.
  • Travel remains recognized for its positive emotional benefits for families.

American travelers are demonstrating increased comfort with, or in spite of, their concerns surrounding COVID-19. Personal concerns about contracting the virus (6.7/10), its impact on their personal finances (6.5/10) and the national economy (7.9/10) remained constant over the last two weeks. However, the proportion comfortable going out to engage in activities in their own community is at a 9-week high (32.2%), and the percent saying they are avoiding travel until the coronavirus situation is over has fallen back to the level it was March 15th. Increasing numbers of Americans are feeling it’s safe to go shopping (36.0%), visit friends and relatives (43.5%), take a road trip (49.3%) and engage in (non-team) outdoor recreational activities (56.9%).

Of course, feelings about the virus and travel are not uniform. About a quarter of American travelers remain committed to avoiding travel until the coronavirus situation has definitively passed—These travelers’ concerns about themselves and others contracting the virus are much greater, and they more likely to be female and to have graduate degrees. Meanwhile, travelers in the Midwest and South have the relatively least concerns about the virus, are most optimistic that the coronavirus situation will stay the same or improve in the next month and demonstrate the most agreement that they will be traveling in the Fall. In contrast, travelers in the Northeast are much more likely to say they are going to take a staycation this summer (62.6% compared to average of 54.1%) and avoid international travel (80.0%) in response to COVID-19. Millennial and GenZ travelers express a greater sense of safety. Their levels of excitement to travel within the next month and interest in learning about travel destinations are notably higher than Baby Boomers. Millennials and GenZ travelers can be particularly motivated to travel by price-cuts and discounts (45.6%).

 

 

American travelers are opening back up to attending conferences and conventions. While the perceived safety of conferences and conventions remains depressed, it has improved since the lows recorded in the first half of April. The percent of conference/convention travelers saying they are avoiding these events until the coronavirus situation is resolved is at a 9-week low (67.5%), with travelers in the West demonstrating greater optimism about attending such events. Right now, 64.5% of conference/convention travelers trust the hosting organizations to look out for their health, while 60.7% say they trust their fellow attendees will conduct themselves appropriately to protect against the spread of viruses.

Americans are starting to plan travel. Of the 64.1% of American travelers who have one or more trips at least tentatively planned this year, seven in ten have taken some action towards their very next trip, including researching things to see and do (23.3%) and making hotel/lodging reservations (22.4%).

 

 

Over half of these travelers describe their next trip as a vacation or weekend getaway (54.4%), 27.7% say their next trip will be for the explicit purpose of visit friends and relatives, and 13.4% will travel to attend a festival, sports or other event. Of those who will take a vacation or getaway, over half are still not fully decided on where they will go and could be potentially influenced through marketing. Beaches, parks and other natural environments appear particularly attractive to this group right now.

 

 

No matter the type of trip, three-quarters of Americans who plan to travel this year will research how the destination they visit and its businesses are managing the coronavirus situation—demonstrating the need for destination-level information on safety. A majority of these travelers plan to carry hand sanitizer, follow social distancing guidelines, avoid crowds, and wear a face mask on their trips. Right now, only 44.5% of these travelers are confident that travel businesses can open safely although a larger 59.4% trust travel-related businesses to look out for patrons’ health while traveling.

 

 

When it comes to visitors in their own communities, the percent of American travelers who say they don’t want them remains high (60.2%), but is at a 4-week low. Rural residents are the least comfortable with tourists presently (66.3%), followed by urban (64.0%) and suburban (56.9%) residents. With travelers showing a desire for the type of tourism assets most commonly associated with a rural experience, some tensions may arise.

Nevertheless, travel is still recognized for its positive emotional benefits. For those American travelers under shelter-in-place orders, 59.1% feel that traveling together when the Coronavirus situation is over would be good for their family.

A presentation file summarizing these key findings is available for you to download.
 
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 Coronavirus’ Impact on American Travel—Week of May 11th

Americans’ caution-led feelings and plans for travel for the remainder of the year highlight the challenge travel providers face in devising their near-term strategies. But seeing your travel destination advertising online can inspire joy.

 

 

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. The findings presented below represent data collected May 8th-10th.

Key Findings to Know:

  • American Travelers are Feeling More Comfortable but Not Necessarily Confident, with Women and Baby Boomers More Cautious
  • Many May Be Waiting to Assess the Experience of the Early (Re)Adopters to Travel
  • Caution-Led Feelings about Travel and Trip Plans Make Estimating Potential Trip Volume Over the Summer More Challenging
  • Travel Ads Deliver Joy, Especially in the Right—Primarily Social/Digital–Setting
  • Travelers are Exhibiting Strong Trust in DMOs for the Information They Need to Travel Safely
  • New Protocols Inspire Safety, with Some Anxiety

Americans travelers are feeling more comfortable this week, but not necessarily more confident. American travelers’ feelings about COVID-19’s impact on their personal finances (6.5/10) and national economy (7.9/10) is at an 8-week low. However, optimism that coronavirus will get better in the U.S. in the next month dipped to a 4-week low. Women and Boomer travelers continue to exhibit more elevated levels of caution around the virus and travel. Nevertheless, the percent of American travelers who feel they will avoid travel until coronavirus is resolved continues to slowly decline (64.8%), and the perceived safety of flying on a commercial airline, staying in a hotel, dining in restaurants and visiting attractions continues to improve from lows seen in early April.

 

 

Many American travelers may be waiting to assess the experiences of the early (re)adopters to travel. Nearly 7 in 10 say they miss vacationing a lot–their heart aches for it. Over half say they miss the very act of planning travel. However the vast majority still say they will approach travel with trepidation as they think about starting again.

 

 

Americans’ caution-led feelings and plans for travel for the remainder of the year highlight the challenge travel providers face in devising their near-term strategies. This week, 36.0% of American travelers report having one or more trips planned between now and the end of August. But 45.3% estimate they will end up taking their next road trip in this same period (and 20.1% their next air trip) suggesting higher trip volumes potentially on the horizon. Americans estimate the distance of their next road trip to be 423 miles on average, although 43.2% report it will be under 200 miles.

Travel advertising can deliver joy, especially in the right setting. This week, 17.8% of American travelers recall seeing a travel destination ad within the past month and 56.3% say the most recent travel ad they saw made them feel happy. This feeling was particularly pronounced among Millennials. Over 85 percent of Millennial and GenZ travelers–and 7 in 10 GenX and Boomer travelers—cite a digital resource as where they will be most receptive to a travel messaging reaching them, with social media powerhouses like Instagram and Facebook as well as search engine marketing appearing the likeliest means for meeting travelers where they are. Email also looks to be one of the best ways to reach all ages of travelers in a state of openness to travel messaging.Travelers would like destinations to speak to them in an honest (59’.0%) but friendly (39.6%) tone in advertising.

 

 

 

 

Travelers are exhibiting strong trust in official destination marketing organizations. When asked about the resources they would trust to provide the information needed to travel safely, official state tourism offices and local visitors bureaus were cited second behind friends and family.

In reaction to new safety protocols being introduced, seeing crews disinfecting an airplane, temperature checks being performed at airports and masks on restaurant staff largely increase travelers feelings of personal safety; although they stimulate some anxiety, as well.

 

 

A presentation file summarizing these key findings is available for you to download.
 
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.

Nature-Based Destinations and the Future of Travel

Destination Analysts was honored to have our ongoing Coronavirus Travel Sentiment Index research featured in The New York Times’ critical look at the future of travel, as “the outbreak will undoubtedly change how we think, act and travel, at least in the short term.” Following are the findings that spotlight the article’s exploration of travelers’ potential desires for more remote and nature-based settings.

In #thebeforetime, cities reigned as the destination type for Americans’ trip aspirations and volume. Back in January we asked a simple travel expectations question in our The State of the American Traveler survey of 2,000 American leisure travelers: “In the next 12 months, how many will you take that will include each of the following types of leisure destinations?” As shown in the graphic below, at that time 74.0% Americans were planning almost two urban trips for 2020—far more than any other destination type.

 

 

Fast forward to the week of April 14th, with near-nationwide shelter in place orders and COVID-19 a full-blown pandemic. In our weekly survey of 1,200 American travelers about their feelings and behaviors on travel in the wake of the coronavirus, nearly 40 percent reported they would change the types of destinations they choose to visit.

 

 

Beyond the substitution of destinations, the coronavirus pandemic looks to have a perhaps temporary but still fundamental impact on how Americans travel and the experiences they choose. American travelers also said they would be avoiding crowded places (55.7%), often a hallmark of the urban travel experience. They also said they would avoid destinations hardest hit by coronavirus (50.5%), which have predominately been cities thus far.

When asked the place they will visit on their very first post-pandemic trip, beach/resort destinations (38.2%) and small towns/rural areas (30.0%) topped the list. A significant number also say they will be taking more road trips because of coronavirus—road trips lending themselves well to exploring lesser trafficked and nature-based destinations.

Another finding lending to the benefit nature-based destinations may reap from the pandemic is the increased interest in camping and RVing. We asked the American travelers we surveyed the week of April 24th if the pandemic made camping and RVing more attractive. Nearly 4 in 10 agreed it did.

 

 

Nature-based destinations indeed have an opportunity to position themselves well for post-pandemic travel, introduce themselves to new travel audiences and even grow and sustain market share into the future.

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Update on Coronavirus’ Impact on American Travel—Week of May 4th

Americans report their next leisure trip will be to a destination 686 miles away on average, and they expect airlines and hotels to adopt new cleanliness and safety protocols to protect their health.

 

 

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. The findings presented below represent data collected May 1st-3rd.

Travel Industry Colleagues: We celebrate you this National Travel & Tourism Week and applaud your contribution to our incredible and resilient industry.
 

Key Findings to Know

  • Perceptions of Safety Continue to Gradually Improve: Concerns about personally or friends & family contracting the virus are at the lowest levels they have been since March 15th. One-third feels the situation in the US will get better in the next month. Comfort going out in their own communities to undertake local activities is slowly returning. The percent agreeing they won’t travel until there is a vaccine continues to decline.
  • Looking at Travel Ahead: The coronavirus’ impact on American travel remains at 75.7%, September now has the highest number of American travelers having at least tentative trip plans, with increases reported in November and December, as well. The average distance of American travelers’ next leisure trip is 686 miles overall, with Baby Boomers and travelers in the West and South reporting trip averages over 700 miles, and affluent travelers reporting nearly 800 miles.
  • Air Travel Likely an Uneven Return: Half of American travelers feel it is too risky to travel on an airplane right now with, 42.8% saying their next trip by air will not be until 2021 or later. Millennial, GenZ and business travelers travelers are somewhat less uncomfortable, with more saying their next trip by air will be this year.
  • The New Protocols Expected of Airlines and Hotels: The practices that will make travelers feel most confident an airline is looking out for their health are high-tech cleaning of planes’ interiors between flights and requiring passenger health screenings. What will make travelers most confident that a hotel is looking out for their health and safety are guests being provided with hand sanitizer, face masks, disinfectant wipes, etc., and having the property’s cleaning/sanitizing procedures well-explained.
  • Uncertainty about Reopening: Overall, 35.3% of American travelers say they are comfortable with their home state re-opening its economy right now, although this is uneven across regions. The percent of American travelers agreeing they don’t want travelers in their community right now is still notable but down from prior weeks. Travelers continue to be split on whether they would be happy seeing an ad right now promoting their community as a place to visit when its safe.
  • Travel is Missed: Many travelers expressed an excitement to return to travel when they feel it is safe, which will include the travel industry’s participation in adopting health/safety protocols.

Americans’ perceptions of safety continued to gradually improve this week. Concerns about personally (6.6/10) or friends & family (7.2/10) contracting the virus are at the lowest levels they have been since March 15th. Women, however, continue to feel higher levels of concern than men. Now, 33.9% of American travelers feels the coronavirus situation in the US will get better in the next month. Comfort going out in their own communities to undertake local activities is slowly returning–30.6% now feel comfortable from a low of 19.7% April 5th. The percent agreeing they won’t travel until there is a vaccine continues to decline (29.8% down from 36.5% April 19th).

Concern about the personal financial impact of the coronavirus is at a lower level (6.6/10) relative to previous weeks, but concerns for the national economy remain high (8.0/10).

 

 

In looking forward for travel, the coronavirus’ impact on American travel remains at 75.7%, with 69.4% canceling a trip and 54.8% postponing. September now has the highest number of American travelers having at least tentative trip plans (23.5%), with increases reported in November (15.5%) and December (14.5%), as well. The average distance of American travelers’ next leisure trip is 686 miles overall, with Baby Boomers and travelers in the West and South reporting trip averages over 700 miles, and affluent travelers reporting nearly 800 miles.

 

 

There will likely be an uneven return to air travel by Americans. Half of American travelers feel it is too risky to travel on an airplane right now with 42.8% saying their next trip by air will not be until 2021 or later. Millennial and GenZ travelers are somewhat less uncomfortable, with more saying their next trip by air will be this year compared to older generations. Although most have some concerns about the safety of flying on commercial airlines, business travelers are the relatively most comfortable traveling by air right now.

 

 

Like commercial spaces and restaurants, airlines and hotels are expected to adopt new several new cleaning and spread prevention protocols. The practices that will make travelers feel most confident an airline is looking out for their health are high-tech cleaning of planes’ interiors between flights (44.4%) and requiring passenger health screenings (44.2%). At hotels, guests will feel most confident a property is looking out for their health and safety if guests are provided with hand sanitizer, face masks, disinfectant wipes, etc. (36.8%) and the property’s cleaning/sanitizing procedures are well-explained (32.0%). A generational divide continues to present itself. As with other businesses, younger travelers continue to show less agreement that these new operational practices for airlines and hotels should go into effect. Interestingly, however, what would inspire the most confidence in them about airlines is passenger health screening. Millennial and GenZ travelers are also a little more likely than older travelers to want sneeze guards between seats and social distancing enforced at the boarding area.

 

 

We should expect shaming to occur. 63.8% of American travelers say they would be likely to withhold their business from a company if it was operating in a way that did not make them feel confident that the company was looking out for their health. 68.8% say they would share that experience with others.

Americans appear largely uncertain about the reopening. Overall, 35.3% of American travelers say they are comfortable with their home state re-opening its economy right now. While there appears little difference by generation, as expected, there are significant differences by region of residence—only 26.1% of travelers in the Northeast are comfortable with this, while 39.8% of those in the South are. The percent of American travelers agreeing they don’t want travelers in their community right now is still notable at 60.4%, but down from 67.6% April 19th. Travelers continue to be split on whether they would be happy seeing an ad right now promoting their community as a place to visit when its safe. 36.4% say they would be unhappy, 32.8% are neutral, and 30.8% would be happy.

Travel is still missed. 70.6% say they miss traveling, especially the most frequent travelers. Many travelers expressed an excitement to return to travel when they feel it is safe, which will include the travel industry’s participation in adopting health/safety protocols

 

A presentation file summarizing these key findings is available for you to download.
 
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.