Today's Takeaways
From SCT's director of marketing systems & insights, Ariane Hiltebrand

Health and Safety Protocols Critical in Attracting Travelers
This week’s traveler sentiment update by Destination Analysts shows that, despite increases in virus-related personal concerns, American travelers are increasingly willing to travel; 57.8% are “ready to travel” now, which represents the highest percentage since March.

What is important to travelers right now? We have seen time and again from these research reports, that health and safety protocols from all hospitality businesses are critical in attracting travelers to the destination.

This week’s survey shows a widespread acceptance and desire for face masks in any kind of advertising or marketing communication by destinations and hospitality businesses. Today’s traveler focus group by Destination Analysts even revealed that travelers will judge a destination’s safety and suitability as a vacation spot for their family by advertising images. Marketing images used in advertising, on social media, in e-newsletters and on websites now need to include people enjoying activities while wearing masks.

As we can see from the airline industry, restarting air travel was only possible these past months with strict, no-excuse mask-wearing and other safety protocols. Requiring a COVID-test at airports prior to flying will be the next important step in restoring confidence in air travel. Let’s show our visitors, that mask-wearing is common practice throughout all travel touchpoints in Sonoma County!
Opinions on Face Masks in Travel Advertisements
(As of Oct. 11) From Destination Analysts
Destination Analysts Key Findings to Know
From Destination Analysts' Travel Sentiment Report
  • American travelers’ concerns about the novel coronavirus moved back up this week after decreasing last week, and with virus records occurring in the Midwest, Wisconsin has become one of the top destinations people talk about as having coronavirus issues.

  • Nevertheless, consumer aspiration and demand for travel continues to express itself. Approximately 80% of American travelers continue to report that they have at least tentative trip plans right now and at least a quarter of American travelers report that leisure travel will be an essential or high priority in their spending in the next three months.

  • More Americans than any other time during the pandemic period are now open to discounting as a travel motivator.

  • The perception of travel activities as unsafe declined again to a new pandemic period low this week, inching closer to where perceptions were March 15th.

  • More American travelers than ever during the pandemic period are now able to recall recent travel advertising and, more importantly, there has also been a 10% increase in the last three months of the number of American travelers who say the most recent travel ad they saw made them “very happy.”

  • Americans are seeking honesty but friendliness in their travel advertising; something that strikes an authoritative tone is largely seen as a turn-off.

  • Nearly 70% feel positive or very positive about seeing travelers with facemasks in travel ads, while less than 10% have a negative response.

  • In looking at trust to provide the information needed to travel safely, in addition to their friends and relatives, traveling Americans are placing the relatively highest degrees of trust in official tourism organizations, including state tourism offices and local convention & visitors bureaus.

  • In looking towards the recovery of the airline industry, among the more than 40 percent of American travelers who still feel stronger hesitation about travel, nearly 77% of this group of travelers say that mandatory COVID-19 tests prior to boarding would be important to getting them to take a flight in the next six months—demonstrating the ability of such measures to get people back to flying.
STR Tracking for Sonoma County
Things to Note:

  • For the period of 9/27-10/3, performance was impacted by the Glass fire.
  • 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