Traveler Sentiment

From Destination Analysts, November 16, 2020:

Key Findings to Know this Week

  • Americans’ concerns about contracting COVID-19 rose in recent days as daily COVID-19 cases skyrocketed: 61% now believe the pandemic will be getting worse in the next month; just 14% feel it will get better
  • The trajectory of the pandemic continues to depress how Americans feel about travel for the near-term
    • Those with high excitement levels for taking a potential getaway in the next month (42%) plummeted over seven percentage points since last week, and openness to travel inspiration (42%) also declined to the lowest level it has been since August 9
    • The percent that agree they have lost their interest in travel for the time being increased to 46% from 43% in the last week
    • About 60% of American travelers say they wouldn’t be able to fully enjoy travel, and 47% say they would feel guilty traveling right now
    • Trip cancellations and postponements have increased (47%) and 63% are now less likely to travel in the next three months
    • Just three in 10 plan to take a holiday season-related trip this year — down from 55% in 2019
  • While feelings about travel in the short-term may be depressed, there continue to be positive indicators for travel’s future
    • The perception of travel and leisure activities as unsafe has not notably increased back to peak levels recorded in July and April
    • Americans’ travel state-of-mind remained stable with 57% in a ready to travel state of mind
  • In addition, nearly 80% have at least tentative trip plans for some time in the next year, although over a third are eyeing May 2021 or later
  • Over 60% of American travelers said Pfizer’s promising vaccine announcement made them more or much more optimistic that they can travel safely in 2021

Source: Destination Analysts

From H2R Research, October 1, 2020:

It has been nearly seven months that the United States has been battling the coronavirus pandemic, and while many things have changed in these past seven months there is also a lot that has stayed the same. The desire for life to return to normal has been one of those constants, as has the need for a change of scenery. And those sentiments continue to be the biggest motivators of travel. 

People need travel. It is not just a fantasy or a luxury, but it is fundamental desire to most of our normal lives—the normalcy everyone is craving right now. Consumers also have an essential need for connectedness with one another. Linking these two basic needs together makes it come as little surprise that nearly six in ten consumers believe travel to visit friends and family will become the most popular type of travel in the coming years. 

Consumers also expect outdoor destinations to become increasingly popular in the near future. Beaches and lakes, national and state parks and mountainous areas can all expect to recover a bit quicker than long haul travel, meetings and conventions, group travel and visitation to big cities with large populations. 
The types of lodging consumers are leaning toward are also shifting during these unusual times. Nationally branded hotels and resorts edge out vacation rentals like Airbnb, and rural or suburban areas are expected to be the trendy choice over the once booming urban locations. And when staying overnight on a trip, consumers are most interested in having food and beverage options on site, a pool and transparent cleaning protocols. 

Early Adopters who have already ventured out and taken a leisure trip indicate they are most satisfied with the communication provided by the attraction or destination beforehand regarding what specific actions were being employed and how those additional safety precautions aligned with guest expectations. Strong communications upfront that transparently describe what measures have been put into place help consumers feel more at ease during their visit. 

As time moves on, we continue to see an increase in the number of Early Adopters venturing out. This week, nearly one-quarter of consumers indicated they have ventured out by traveling for leisure or visiting an attraction of some sort (up 24% from mid-September). Early Adopters are critical to please as their experiences and social media narratives dictate how soon other travelers will follow their lead. 

And the good news is, this week’s COVID-19 Confidence Index improved for the third straight wave of findings, coming in at 43.6. Both of these increases are positive signs the country is beginning to head towards the “next normal.” 

More information:

This data reflects the fourth wave of H2R’s COVID-19 Travel & Attractions Update: Rebuild Edition conducted the week of September 28, 2020, from a nationwide, professionally managed panel of consumers. 225 responses were collected for this wave, providing for a maximum margin of error of +/-6.5%. For more information, please email

Traveler and Consumer

Sentiment Survey Results

Back-to-Normal Barometer

October 14, 2020

  • A vaccine or therapeutic treatments to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 provide the most reassurance for travelers to feel comfortable staying in a hotel or flying again
    • Nearly one-third (34%) of travelers would be much more likely to fly domestically if all passengers and employees tested negative for COVID-19 immediately prior to flying
    • One-quarter of travelers (26%) would be much more likely to attend a conference if all attendees and employees tested negative for COVID-19
  • Six in 10 strongly agree that their employers should make it easy to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine once available
  • Nearly six in 10 (58%) are strongly concerned that there will be a second wave of COVID-19 outbreaks requiring event cancellations and lockdowns this year
    • Yet less than half (49%) said that they will definitely get a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available

Source: Engagious

National Tracking Poll: COVID-19 and Travel Sentiment

November 18, 2020

  • Although travel looked different and there was a significant decline in domestic travel and visitor spending in Q2 2020, Americans were still traveling
  • Half of domestic trips in Q2 were to visit friends and family, additionally, the share of outdoor trips nearly doubled in Q2 2020, compared to Q2 2019, and now represent over 10% of all overnight trips
  • Average trip spending was down almost one-quarter for the first half of 2020 compared to 2019 – particularly in the recreation, food and beverage and lodging categories
  • Road trips dominated with three-quarters of travelers preferring to travel by auto and short-term rentals gained share over traditional lodging accommodations
  • Domestic trips also increased in length—averaging around four nights

Source: Longwoods International supported by Miles Partnership

The Harris Poll CV-19 Tracker

November 18, 2020

  • Working remotely has its benefits. Americans have enjoyed the flexibility of working remotely and also feel their personal health and working relationships have improved
    • Two-thirds (67%) of remote workers say their lifestyle has gotten healthier since working from home and 41% say communication with their manager is more effective since working remotely
  • Yet, there are aspects of going to the office that Americans miss—one-quarter of remote workers miss in-person meetings

Source: The Harris Poll

Travel Intentions Pulse Survey (TIPS)

November 5, 2020

  • After increasing each of the previous two months, the percentage of respondents intending to travel for leisure in the next six months fell to 40%, down from 46% in the previous wave
  • The number of respondents who were “not at all likely to travel for leisure in the next six months” rose sharply to 21%, up from 15% in the previous wave
  • Interest in travel by personal car has declined from 70% to 64%, while intent to take a domestic flight dropped from 38% to 32%
  • The percentage of those who intend to take a business trip over the next six months has remained somewhat steady (34%) compared to last month (33%)

Source: MMGY Travel Intelligence

Consumer Behavior in the Time of COVID-19

October 31, 2020

  • As concerns over the coronavirus remain high, there are few signs of individual behaviors changing
    • The number of Americans that have visited friends or relatives (49%), gone out to eat (42%) and self-quarantined (14%) is stable compared to the past few weeks
  • Concerns are emerging about the holiday season, with two-thirds (68%) making adaptations to how they will celebrate and changing how they view holiday travel
    • Two-thirds say traveling for the upcoming holidays poses a large or moderate risk
    • More than half of Americans (54%) have begun to make plans about how they will celebrate the holiday season
    • The most common adaptation for Thanksgiving celebrations are having a smaller gathering (35%) and not seeing family or friends they normally would (21%)
    • A slim majority, 52%, say they are celebrating Thanksgiving this year with just their immediate family. More than one in 10 (14%) are not planning to celebrate at all

Source: Ipsos

iMeet Survey of Meeting Planners

November 15, 2020

  • With the recent promising vaccine news, many planners are hopeful as they look to 2021. The percentage of planners with a request for proposal in progress and with at least one future face-to-face meeting booked or contracted both increased this week to 49% and 75%, respectively
  • 68% of meeting planners anticipate they will resume face-to-face meetings sometime in 2021, with half not planning on meeting until Q2 (27%) or Q3 (21%)
  • Yet, uncertainty about when to resume face-to-face events continues to increase and reached 21% this week, up from 18% the prior week

Source: iMeet

Fall Travel Index

September 8, 2020

  • While Florida and Arizona have always been popular destinations, there is significant y/y increase in travelers planning to visit this fall
  • Travelers are looking for short, last minute getaways with 55% booking two to five-night stays and often booking less than a week in advance

Source: Tripadvisor

Taking the Route Less Traveled

  • The role of the personal car is more than two times greater than it was for pre-COVID-19 trips, while the likelihood of renting a car for a leisure trip is three times higher
  • Travelers continue to make more last-minute decisions
    • Most searches are occurring 0-21 days out on Expedia Group websites

Source: Expedia Group Media Solutions

Fewer Americans Hitting the Road this Thanksgiving

November 12, 2020

  • 50 million Americans are expected to travel this Thanksgiving—a 10% drop from 2019 and the largest one-year decrease since the Great Recession in 2008
    • Those who decide to travel are likely to drive shorter distances and reduce the number of days they are away, making road trips the dominant form of travel this Thanksgiving
    • Travel by automobile is projected to fall 4.3%, to 47.8 million travelers while air travel volume will be down by nearly half of prior years—to 2.4 million travelers—the largest one-year decrease on record
  • However, as the holiday approaches and Americans monitor the public health landscape, including rising COVID-19 positive case numbers, renewed quarantine restrictions and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) travel health notices, it is likely that the actual number of holiday travelers will be even lower

Source: AAA

Business Travelers Itching to Get Back on Road

November 19, 2020

  • Half of Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) travel buyer and procurement professionals feel their employees are ‘willing’ or ‘very willing’ to travel for business in the current environment
  • Following recent announcements of potential, effective vaccines, six in 10 GBTA travel buyer and procurement professionals believe that their company will be more likely to allow business travel and employees to attend in-person meetings in 2021
  • Regarding government restrictions, 55% of North American GBTA travel buyer and procurement professionals feel there should be an exception to mandated quarantine requirements for international business travelers, who take short-duration business trips that involve meeting with only a few people
  • Domestic business travel is anticipated to return to 50% of 2019 levels within the next nine months according to 58% of non-European buyers while expectations for international travel will take longer with 54% expecting it will take 10-24 months to reach 50% of 2019’s level

Source: Global Business Travel Association