Traveler Sentiment From Destination Analysts, December 14, 2020.
Key Findings to Know this Week
Anxieties about the coronavirus are severely impacting travel sentiment for the near-term
Americans’ travel mindset is now evenly split between readiness and hesitation with half of Americans needing a little or a lot more time to feel ready to travel
This week, 55% of Americans said they would feel guilty traveling right now and 50% have lost interest in traveling for the time being—last week only 43% felt this way
Nearly six in 10 (58%) feel travel should be limited to essential needs only and 55% agree they do not want travelers coming to their own communities right now
As a result, Americans are pushing out their travel intentions into at least Q2 of 2021
Two-thirds of Americans say the current pandemic situation makes them less likely to travel over the next three months
Yet, progress with the vaccines is appearing to have a positive impact.
59% of Americans feel that the vaccine developments make them more optimistic about life returning to normal in the next six months, while 51% say the vaccines makes them more optimistic they can travel safely by then
As Americans continue to exhibit receptivity to travel marketing for future trips, half of American travelers expressed excitement about taking a getaway soon
Of those who have recently recalled seeing a travel advertisement, 57% report the ad made them feel happy or very happy
Looking at the recovery of the meetings industry, the percent of American travelers who have at least tentative plans to attend a convention or conference in the next year has risen to 24% from 16% two months ago
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Traveler and Consumer Sentiment Survey Results
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
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
Though consumer confidence in travel varies by country and generation, one in two travelers feel optimistic—comfortable or even excited—about taking a trip in the next 12 months
Global travelers said that they are more likely to take trips between April and September 2021
Health, safety, flexibility and financial peace of mind are essential. Three-quarters of travelers said measures such as mask enforcement, reduced capacity or contactless services and flexible cancellation policies will inform where they stay on their next trip
Seven in 10 travelers want added flexibility, such as travel insurance and trip protection, full cancellations and refunds on transportation and accommodations
Close to six in 10 (57%) travelers said they would be comfortable traveling if a vaccine is widely available, which is promising given that this sentiment was captured prior to recent positive vaccine news
Business Travel and Meetings Expected to Surge the Second Half of 2021
December 17, 2020
Three out of four respondents expect employees to attend in-person meetings/events in Q2 or Q3 2021
Sales meetings with customers and prospects will be the priority for the year ahead
Three in five members of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) say vaccine availability is a ‘significant’ factor in their company’s decision to resume business travel
Despite the vaccine being rolled out in the U.S. over the past few weeks, 54% of GBTA member companies remain unsure about their position concerning vaccine availability and the resumption of business travel
However, one in five say their employees will be permitted to travel for work when a significant portion of the population have been vaccinated
Just over one-third (36%) of North American respondents say their company has begun planning 2021 meetings and/or events
Of those who report their company is planning to host/attend 2021 meetings and/or events, more than half are planning small to mid-sized meetings or events with up to 500 attendees
As attendance at in-person events increase through the year, hybrid meeting attendance is expected to decline as 2021 unfolds
North American respondents estimated that 24% of their events in 2021 will include a virtual component and will be smaller local events with fewer than 25 attendees that require no air travel or lodging
The top two factors influencing whether to hold an in-person event are confidence in attendee health and safety components (68%) and flexible cancellation and attrition terms (59%)
The capacity to socially distance and disinfectant protocols are top factors influencing meeting location decisions
Meeting length is anticipated to be longest for in-person incentives/special events, at 3.6 days on average, while the longest type of hybrid meeting is predicted to be conferences/trade shows, at an average of 9.7 hours
Almost two-thirds predict that overall meeting spend will be down and the total cost per attendee per day will be down for every meeting type
The top five meeting destinations in the U.S. in 2021 are expected to be Orlando, Las Vegas, New York City, Washington D.C. and Dallas
Current Events Bring Guarded Optimism for Industry Recovery
November 24, 2020
Likely as a result of the recent vaccine news and election results, planners feel more hopeful than in October—43% reported feeling hopeful compared to 33% in October, while 38% of suppliers expressed the same amount of hope as they did in October
A higher percentage of planners are designing live experiences in post-COVID-19 physical environments: 66% vs. 57% last month, suggesting that planners are preparing for hybrid as well as digital events
Likely in response to the spikes in COVID-19 cases across the U.S., both planners and suppliers are less inclined to travel to a business event until there is a widely distributed vaccine
Nearly 40% of planners and 27% of suppliers would not travel—up from 33% and 18%, respectively, the prior month
Nearly one-quarter (23%) of suppliers did not feel that in-person events are a viable option for most groups. In addition, 34% of planners who have attended an in-person event were convinced that it would not work for groups—up from 30% the prior month