Today's Takeaways
From SCT's director of marketing systems & insights, Ariane Hiltebrand
This week’s traveler sentiment update by Destination Analysts shows continued negative impacts on short term travel due to the national surge in virus cases and tighter restrictions in many states. However, the outlook for 2021 becomes increasingly positive with 80% of American travelers reporting that they have tentative trip plans, and many want to get away to a place far from home.

Relaxation seems to be one of the major travel themes for 2021, and travelers will heavily select their travel products based on safety and easy cancellation policies. California remains one of the top three most desired travel destinations for domestic travelers, which means that Sonoma County is well-positioned to attract out-of-state travelers in 2021.
Destination Analysts Key Findings to Know
From Destination Analysts' Travel Sentiment Report
  • Nearly 14% of American travelers report that they took a Thanksgiving trip. Nearly one-in-five Americans say they plan to take a Christmas holiday trip.

  • In terms of how Americans are feeling about the virus, many emotions remain largely unchanged, with anxieties about personally or loved ones’ contracting the virus and the pandemic’s impact on personal and national economics in an elevated but stable period that have not reached the peak levels seen during the two prior surges in March and July.

  • Such concerns are still impacting Americans’ current travel marketability. Americans’ openness to travel inspiration has been on a steady decline since October 18th and fully half of American travelers say they have lost their interest in traveling for the time being.

  • The focus of some recent news stories on pandemic behaviors in specific travel destinations is also acting as a sentiment depressant. In the past month, 35.8% of Americans report they have seen one or more COVID-19 related reports in the media about travel destinations where people were behaving in a manner that would make them feel uncomfortable visiting.

  • While a majority agree with new/reinstituted travel and other COVID related restrictions and agree it’s important people follow them, these restrictions are achieving their intention to deter travel right now.

  • Still, the worst of this latest surge’s impact on travel behavior may be passing or at least be in a temporary reprieve. The percent of American travelers who report they have cancelled or postponed any upcoming leisure trips because of the recent increases in COVID-19 cases in the U.S. has dropped to 38.1% from 47.4% two weeks ago, and now 56.3% say recent increases in COVID-19 cases around the country have made them less likely to travel in the next three months–down from 62.8% in the same period.

  • Reports of vaccine developments also continue to provide Americans hope about their travel future. Over 44.2% agree that their “first trip after a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available will be a vacation, likely to a place far from my home.”

  • This week 80% of American travelers have at least tentative trip plans for the future. The pandemic clearly still weighs heavy, with confidence travel can be done safely, easy cancellation policies and relaxation the top motivational attributes for taking a trip.

  • However, when asked where they most want to travel to in the next 12 months, the Hot List looks nearly identical to pre-pandemic, with Florida, New York, California, Hawaii, and Las Vegas coming out on top.

  • COVID-19 testing will likely remain part of American travel behaviors for the near future.
Travel Survey from Allianz Partners
Allianz Partners, a travel insurance and assistance provider, released results of a survey measuring the comfort and future plans of its policy holders regarding travel. Collected from a random sample of 3,500 OTA, B2C, airline, and retail customers who purchased a policy between Nov 1, 2019 and Sept 30, 2020 (with responses gathered from Oct 27 to Nov 9, 2020), the survey found that:

  • 50% of customers would feel safe to travel again with a proven vaccine.

  • 48% want to see health officials declare that it is safe to travel.

  • 47% want to see hotels and airports taking enhanced safety measures such as advanced sanitization.

  • 32% are uncertain when they'll travel next.

  • 9% of respondents over the age of 65 plan to travel this season, while 18% of those under the age of 45 plan to travel this season.

  • 70% plan to fly for their next trip, while only 19% plan to drive.

You can read more about the Allianz study on Travel Pulse here.
Website Insights for
During the period of Nov 20-26, the top content that people were engaging with on the website was: the Life Opens Up fall campaign, the coronavirus, and editorial about Thanksgiving, Bodega Bay, fall walks, crab season, wineries, and fall colors. Our blog saw traffic for wineries open thanksgiving, outdoor movies, wineries open Christmas and New Year’s, and what to expect after the fires.

San Francisco represents 15% of the total traffic this past week. San José is still #3, Los Angeles is still #5, Sacramento is still #6, Oakland dropped to #11. We see 4 out-of-state cities in the top 25: New York, Chicago, Dallas, and Seattle.
STR Tracking for Sonoma County
Things to Note:

  • STR is comparing “Weekly Year Over Year.”
  • 52 of the county’s 113 hotels report to STR.
  • The average from other destinations includes: Napa, Palm Springs, Monterey, South Lake Tahoe, and Vallejo/Napa Valley.
  • For more information on how data is calculated due to hotel closures, please refer to this document.
Smith Travel Research (STR) is the recognized leader in hospitality industry benchmarking around the globe. Powered by the world's largest hotel data sample, they deliver confidential data, accurate and actionable insights, and comprehensive solutions to empower decisions. Discover how STR collects data, how it is calculated, and a glossary of terms, by clicking here