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.

Travelers Send the Travel Industry Thanks, Wishes of Safety & Strength During National Travel & Tourism Week

 

In honor of #NTTW20, we asked the 1,200 travelers we surveyed May 1st-3rd as part of our ongoing Coronavirus Travel Sentiment Index Study to share some words of wisdom and encouragement to the travel industry. Here are some of the heart warming highlights.

Our favorite quotes:

“Just keep people dreaming about their next trip!”

“We will get through this together”

“Stay safe and stay clean!”

“Hang in there. We travelers will be back!”

“Stay safe and clean everything!”

“Cleaning will be key. Patience with customers as they work with you–people will be afraid and probably have had attitudes because of it.”

“Concentrate on advertising beautiful outdoor spaces!”

“Things will get better. For now patience is the key. It’s unfortunate, but no one has control of this pandemic. Let’s be thankful for what we have today.”

“Stay positive. Things will turnaround”

“Stay strong, we, tourists, will be visiting you soon.”

“Thanks for all you do. I can’t wait to travel again.”

“Don’t give up. People will venture out again. They will be very eager to travel and may make more trips than expected, enjoying their freedom of movement”

“If you can provide safety measures, some are likely to travel again sooner. Some of us may have to travel whether we want to or not. Please make it safe for us to do so.”

“Thanks for all you’re doing! We’ll be back and spending again when we feel safe!”

“Stay strong! We’ll be back soon and can’t wait to see you again.”

“Thank you for exploring ways to keep your employees and customers safe. We all know it is a very challenging time.”

“Thank you for being there. We’ll be back it’s just going to take time”

“You rock, and keep up the good work. Stay safe!”

“My heart goes out to you who make our travel experiences memorable and special. I can’t wait to see you again!”

“Protect your visitors. They will come back after the threat of the virus is over.”

“Can’t wait to get back to travel and to being a tourist. Thanks to all who are working to get us back to seeing the world!”

“First stay safe, be patient, people will start traveling again when things are safe.”

Keep strong and come back better than ever, when the time is right

“I cannot wait to begin to travel again once new cleaning/disinfecting policies are put into place”

“Hang in there! We will want to travel again and will need you!”

Despite Missing Travel Themselves, Many Americans Don’t Want Visitors in Their Own Communities Yet

The data and findings cited below come from Destination Analysts’ Coronavirus Travel Sentiment Index, a weekly survey of 1,200 American travelers that we have conducted since March 15th, 2020. These findings are from the survey conducted April 24th-26th, 2020.
 

Although nearly two-thirds of American travelers say they miss travel and “can’t wait to get out and travel again,” this week, 63.5 percent of American travelers still agree they don’t want visitors coming to their community right now. Only one-in-ten disagrees.

 

 

Agreement with this sentiment has decreased slightly compared to last week (67.6%), however, and hopefully as curves flatten and there are other gains in humankind’s fight against coronavirus, fear about travelers in our own communities will continue to decline.

Given these feelings towards visitors in their communities at the moment, American travelers’ opinions are also split on whether they would get pleasure from seeing an ad marketing their community as a place to visit when it is safe. While 33.1 percent said they would be happy to see such an advertisement, 36.2 percent said they would be unhappy.

 

 

Looking more deeply at who these two groups are, those that would be unhappy with their community being advertised right now—even for when the pandemic is over—are just as frequent travelers, but they are far more fearful right now, with high levels of concern about themselves or their loved ones contracting the virus and they are far more anxious about the overall safety of travel. Interestingly, those who say they would be happy to see travel advertisements for their community are much more frequent convention/conference travelers in their pre-pandemic/”normal” lives.

Destination Analysts will continue to track American’s evolving sentiment towards visitors and travel. Follow us on social and/or sign up to receive our updates via email here.

Update on Coronavirus’ Impact on American Travel—Week of April 27th

As American travelers prioritize staying safe from infection over the coming six months, they most want businesses like restaurants, malls, theme parks and sports venues to provide hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, as well as clearly explain their cleaning/sanitizing procedures.

 

 

IMPORTANT: These data and findings are brought to you from our independent research, which is not sponsored, conducted or influenced by any advertising or marketing agency.

Key Findings to Know

  • American Travelers are Gradually Feeling Safer: Personal concern about contracting the virus, the perceived safety of large events like professional sports games and live performances, and the avoidance of travel until the coronavirus situation is over have all improved
  • Some Effects Are Lessening: The percent cancelling a trip because of the coronavirus is at a 4-week low; meanwhile postponements are at a 4-week high. Agreement about staycationing is at a 3-week low, while taking more road trips this year to avoid air travel and avoiding travel outside the United States are both at a 6-week lows. The percent who say they will change the types of travel destinations they choose to visit is back down to 30.7%, although over half continue to say they will avoid crowded destinations when they travel again
  • Now Is Still Not the Time for Travel: Americans continue to largely associate fear and uncertainty with travel right now. This week 63.5% agree they don’t want visitors coming to their community right now, although the strength of their agreement with this sentiment has lessened
  • Desired Protocols for Future Travel: Americans look likely to prioritize staying safe from infection, (even over making money and their emotional well-being) and thus want to see businesses provide hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and well-explained cleaning procedures. However, in what becomes common business practices, Boomers want new policies like health screenings more than younger travelers
  • Downloadable report available here

American travelers continue to gradually feel safer than they did one month ago. Personal concern about contracting the virus is at a 6-week low (6.7/10.0), with the biggest change among older travelers. The perceived safety of large events like professional sports games and live performances remains low but continues to improve. Although nearly half do not believe the coronavirus sitation will not be resolved by summer, there is continued decline in the number of Americans saying they will avoid all travel until the coronavirus situation is over (5-week low).

Some Effects of the coronavirus on American travel are lessening. The percent cancelling a trip because of the coronavirus is at a 4-week low (63.7%), meanwhile postponements are at a 4-week high (51.9%). Of those that postponed a trip, 32.8% have at least tentatively picked a rescheduled date. Excitement levels to take a getaway in the next month are depressed but at a 5-week high (4.7/10.0). Agreement about staycationing is at a 3-week low (49.3%), while taking more road trips this year to avoid air travel (37.6%) and avoiding travel outside the United States (77.8%) are both at 6-week lows. Younger travelers in particular are feeling more optimistic about international travel than they were one week ago. Avoidance of conferences and conventions is also at a 6-week low (72.6%). The percent who say they will change the types of travel destinations they choose to visit is back down to 30.7% from a high of 39.3% on April 10th, although over half of American travelers continue to say they will avoid crowded destinations when they travel again.

 

 

Nevertheless, the present is still not the time for travel. While there are more positive emotions than 5 weeks ago, Americans largely associate fear and uncertainty with travel right now. This week, 63.5% agree they don’t want visitors coming to their community right now, although the strength of their agreement with this sentiment has lessened (29.0% “strongly agree” down from 35.1% one week prior).

 

 

Looking at their lifestyle priorities over the next six months, Americans are most in sync on staying safe from infection (47.8%)–even more so than on making money (27.2%) or their emotional well-being (30.4%). Thus, when asked about the operational practices they want to see used at restaurants and commercial locations like malls and sports venues, Americans appear in most agreement about hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and well-explained cleaning procedures.

 

 

However, in what becomes common business practices, Boomers want new policies like health screenings more than younger travelers.

 

 

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.

Designing a Staycation to Ideal Travel Ads, In the Words of Real Travelers

 

During Destination Analysts’ April 21st presentation of the latest findings from our weekly Coronavirus Travel Sentiment Index Study, our CEO Erin Francis-Cummings interviewed a panel of travelers about their perspectives on travel and their upcoming travel plans in the wake of the the coronavirus pandemic. While not a formal study, it is a reminder that qualitative research adds such richness and depth to understanding about how customers think—something that is critical for brands and other businesses as they lead through and after the COVID-19 crisis.

Highlights from what these travelers shared about staycations, travel ads, and desired safety protocols follow below.

On Staycations:
“Mine would probably entail camping up in the mountains or something that would still be avoiding crowds and things like that. I think it would be probably within the same state or relatively close. For me, it doesn’t mean staying in this small area in my house or in the little neighborhood I live in. That’s not really what I’m looking for because I’ve been here for the last six weeks and haven’t been able to leave. So it would be 30-40-50 miles at least up in the mountains–camping or fishing or more of a rural kind of experience I would say.”

“There are two ways that I personally define staycation. There is ‘you’ve been working several months straight and haven’t taken a day off, and staycation is where you decide to take a couple of days off and hang out at home’. The other way I look at it is that staycation is ‘going to visit a city near you or exploring your own city–staying the night there or just doing a day trip…about 40 miles away so its not too far’, I could stay the night there if I wanted to but I could also go home if I wanted to.”

“I would limit how far I was going initially until I had a handle on the area I was going to. Where we live, within a 2 hour drive, I can actually day trip to a lot of different destinations, and after being self-quarantined and sheltered for a while, it’ll be nice to do that. But when you get beyond the staycation, those are the type of criteria I would look at to make sure that I’m taking reasonable risks.”

 

 

On Discounts & Deals:
“If I can take an area that is safe, and a secondary of that safe, the discounts and incentives would have an impact…But I would rather pay the few hundred dollars more and go when it’s safe, so that would be my criteria, the safety first. But with all things being equal, obviously discounts and deals help to get people traveling again.”

“I think the best indicator for me is when I see that an area in particular is safe, but I think also if I see a great deal for say an international destination–and I’m talking about probably in Fall, I don’t really expect going anywhere international anytime soon. If I found great deal for somewhere like New Zealand which is also very safe right now, they controlled things very well. If I were looking at Iceland vs. New Zealand and if in this hypothetical scenario Iceland had a bad situation with COVID whereas New Zealand did not, I would pay a little bit more to go to New Zealand as opposed to Iceland. So yeah, but again it all comes down to if a particular area is safe or not.”

“Seeing a deal would definitely catch my eye initially, but I want to make sure the destination I’d be going to is safe, but not only that, I want to make sure that it is safe to leave where I am right now. I want to make sure that where I’m at, we have things under control around the decline, I want to make sure wherever I am going to is not heavily impacted right now, they’re not on an incline– then the deal would definitely be intriguing.”

 

 

On Seeing Travel Ads Right Now:
“Online is the best way. I’m on social media so you know seeing random ads on Instagram and seeing blogposts on Facebook, I follow certain bloggers, like the Points Guy and Travel Pirates. You’ll see a random article sometimes scrolling saying ‘Hey there are last minute flights’, those are the best ways to get my attention.”

“Publications and online, I think things like Travel and Leisure, even I do a lot of spotting on United, they’re sending out updates-the emails work. Even things like the travel channel or the weather channel little targeted ads, I think it’s something that clearly with the world locked up people will be happy to get out again.”

“Mostly online. I respond best to articles, blogposts, something with a little more description, little more like ‘here are things to do, here is a destination.’ And I think that something that is targeting or somewhat aligned with the notion of health in a particular area. So say there is a blogpost saying ‘come visit here and these are what the statistic are on COVID in this particular region.’ If some sort of advertisement can reassure me without me having to search and see how that destination is handling it, that area is relatively safe then that’s not only going to give me more assurance to go to that place but that’s going to give me more of a reason to trust whoever is advertising to me that they are putting some thought towards my safety, and I think that is important for me.”

 

 

On Safety and Protocols:
“I want to avoid crowds…just general anxiety over catching the virus and whether or not I show symptoms sort of unwillingly spreading it to the people I do interact with.”

“The airlines sent me an email saying ‘we’re doing the best that we can, we’re taking extra precaution, we’re scrubbing down the planes with disinfectants and whatnot,’ and I expect larger ones to probably put out some type of memo saying the same thing. As far as the AirBnB, those are mom and pop. I am very big on trying to support local businesses or small businesses, but I think that is probably going to be a little bit riskier. But I’ll be sure to bring my Lysol wipes to disinfect everything. I’m not big on touching remote controls and public telephones, but I’ll be sure to scrub those down extra just in case.”

“I miss going to those live shows, music concerts. I think with everything going on, it’s smart to have extra handwashing stations, to have extra sanitizer around for people to make sure that they’re staying clean. Extra trash cans around to make sure people throw their wipes and they’re bringing masks or gloves and they’re dispensing of that properly. You see a lot of people disposing them in the streets right now and it does not do us any good if you’re disposing of your protective equipment by just littering and exposing other people. We got to make sure that the resource is there to make sure we stay clean, but you have to make sure we can dispose of it properly as well.”

“I think people are just going to have to be more conscious about what a new normal is, and it does not mean that you can’t get this under control. Again different criteria: if you get a problem and you have a pill that is one level. If you have a vaccine that’s a perfect level. But in the meantime, it’s a matter of just being prudent. It’s carrying yourself in a prudent way, because you got a responsibility, again, not only for yourself but to your whole circle.”

Update on Coronavirus’ Impact on American Travel—Week of April 20

As American travelers increasingly feel better that the worst of the coronavirus may soon be over, one-in-five say a trip will be one of their first post-shelter-in-place activities.

 

 

IMPORTANT: These data and findings are brought to you from our independent research, which is not sponsored, conducted or influenced by any advertising or marketing agency.

Key Findings to Know

  • American travelers continue to feel better that the worst of COVID-19 may be on the horizon. Excitement levels towards taking a getaway in the next month and interest in learning about travel destinations remain low but are at a 5-week high
  • When presented a list of leisure and personal activities and asked to select the first things they were going to do when shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted, 22.5% said taking a trip would be among their top 5
  • Regarding timing, American travelers increasingly don’t believe or are unsure that the pandemic will be resolved by the summer travel season. The number reporting trip cancellations increased, particularly in May and June. Nevertheless, half continue to feel they will be traveling in Fall, with reported increases in travel plans for September and October
  • The number of American travelers saying they will choose regional rather than long-haul destinations for leisure travel this year continues to grow and is at the highest recorded level since this study began
  • 36.5% of American travelers say they agree to some degree with the statement “I’m not traveling until there is a vaccine”; 43.2% disagree
  • Nearly 8 in 10 American travelers say they would approve of mandatory health screenings for flights between destinations inside the continental United States and over 60 percent expressed this would increase their confidence traveling
  • Over two-thirds of American travelers say they do not want other travelers coming to their community right now
  • Downloadable report available here

American travelers continue to feel better that the worst of COVID-19 may be on the horizon. Now 34.1% think the situation will improve in the U.S. in the next month up, from 29.5% last week. The impact they feel the pandemic will have on their personal finances is at a five-week low (6.6 on a 10-point scale). Additionally, the perceived safety of travel activities has improved this week relative to last week.

Excitement levels towards taking a getaway in the next month remain low but are at a 5-week high (4.5/10.0). Similarly, interest in learning about travel destinations remains low but is also at the highest its been since March 15th (5.1/10.0). Boomers’ motivation to travel because of discounts and deals bounced back (up to 35.8% from 25.3% a week ago).

When presented a list of leisure and personal activities and asked to select the first things they were going to do when shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted, 22.5% said taking a trip would be among their top 5. Taking a trip comes behind dining out and hangouts with friends, grooming services and shopping in a retail store, and beats going out on a date or to the gym. Indeed, 70.2% of American travelers say they miss travel this week–with 38.6% strongly agreeing they do.

Regarding timing, American travelers increasingly don’t believe or are unsure that the pandemic will be resolved by the summer travel season (44.5% disagree it will). Americans with travel impacted by coronavirus is up 75.3% from 72.8%. The number reporting trip cancellations increased (70.3% from 66.9%), particularly in May and June. Nevertheless, 51.2% continue to feel they will be traveling by Fall, with reported increases in travel plans for September and October.

Again, there remain continued signs that travel is unlikely to quickly return to what it was pre-pandemic. The numbers of American travelers saying they will choose regional rather than long-haul destinations (50.8%) this year continues to grow, and is at the highest recorded levels since this study began. More than half of travelers say they will take a staycation this summer (51.3%), and 45.4% say they will take more road instead of airline trips.

36.5% of American travelers say they agree to some degree with the statement “I’m not traveling until there is a (COVID-19) vaccine”; 43.2% disagree. Younger travelers were actually the most likely to agree they may not travel until there is a vaccine.

77.4% of American travelers say they would approve of mandatory health screenings for flights between destinations inside the continental United States. 76.5% feel positively about the notion of mandatory health screenings at airports and 61.2% say such measures will increase their confidence traveling to a destination.

The present moment is not the time to travel in the U.S., according to the majority of American travelers. Over two-thirds say they do not want other travelers coming to their community right now.

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

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A Thumbs Up from Mickey Mouse and Other Ways Travelers Will Determine It’s Safe to Travel

 

During Destination Analysts’ April 14th presentation of latest findings from our weekly Coronavirus Travel Sentiment Index Study, our CEO Erin Francis-Cummings interviewed a panel of travelers about if and how the coronavirus pandemic has changed where and how they will travel, including what was going to make them feel comfortable traveling again. While not a formal study, qualitative research adds such richness and depth to understanding about how customers think—something that is critical for brands and other businesses as they lead through and after the COVID-19 crisis. Thus we want to share what was expressed during this discussion to help further the industry’s knowledge about how traveling consumers are approaching their decision making.

These travelers’ perspectives have some commonality: looking to government and official resources for the indication and messaging that it’s safe to travel and come visit the geographic area they govern/lead, and an expectation that destinations and businesses will responsibly approach opening their doors—only doing so if it is truly safe for visitors. Interestingly, in our survey the week of March 27th, when asked about what they would use to plan travel in the next three months, American travelers largely cited official resources, with fewer stating word-of-mouth—a reversal from “normal” periods.

 

 

Responses given to the questions “What is going to make you feel comfortable traveling again? When will you feel good about taking these trips? What do you need to know or learn?” follow below:

“I think just following the news and seeing reports of things being deemed safe to open and both on a federal level as well as the case by case basis so I think it’s a combination of using our best judgement seeing when we personally feel comfortable ….and thinking are we comfortable being in an airport and on an airplane to first get to our destination? And then what it’s like in terms of air quality and in terms of number of cases. There is a belief that I have that this virus is always going to be with us but at some point it’s going to feel like it’s controlled and controlled to the point where it’s manageable—just as we would be susceptible to other things (when we) put ourselves into a new destination away from our home environment that we are kind of used to, so I don’t know if I have a magic bullet answer to when I would feel comfortable or what it’s going to take but it’s going to be a combination of things we know and things we understand. Talking to friends and family that live in the area, we are looking to travel to understand from them how many things are open, what is it going to look like when we get there and putting it all into perspective.”–Ella, New York

“I think there are two important things for me. I will feel safe when Disneyland is back open—that is our current metric in our household. I think lots and lots of people, lots and lots of interaction from the host to the guest. So that is kind of one part of it – the general test for the nation: Is Disneyland open or is it not? I think for me personally anywhere that I’m going I need to know that the infrastructure is in place medically so that if I personally get sick…I know that I can be okay. I think that’s understanding ‘Is access to ventilators a reality?’ That to me is the biggest concern.” –Jake, California

 

 

“I’m just waiting for more data to come out. I’m holding a lot of hope out for (cures). I’m hoping that is going to be more easily accessible so if I travel I could go into, let’s say immediate care, and just be able get a prescription for (a cure). That would give me more courage to travel. Also we’d want to see that every place is open too.”–Mary, Illinois

“I think a few things. A part of it is hearing confirmation from national, regional and local governments that it is safe to travel and also safe to travel to those locations. I’m wanting to go to Hawaii (after the pandemic) and part of that is confirmation from government officials saying yes we are ready for visitors, that we have the medical equipment, that yes we have different practices. I also want to see from the hotels that I want to stay at and other businesses that they’re ready, their affirmation. Part of it is saying they are ready for you and ready to take care of their employees. So that affirmation: ‘yep we’re back in business, we’re good to go and come on over. ‘…I just want that confirmation.”–Steven, Colorado