Today's Takeaways
From SCT's director of marketing systems & insights, Ariane Hiltebrand
This week’s traveler sentiment update by Destination Analysts reveals that American travelers are getting more optimistic about travel in 2021 thanks to the government’s vaccine rollout plan. 70% of American travelers are now thinking about and planning travel and are open to travel inspiration. Almost half of American travelers say that discounts and deals would motivate them to travel in the next three months. Airline travel is poised to ramp up with 36% of American travelers saying that their next plane trip will be by August.
Months of Expected Leisure Trips in 2021
As of March 14, 2021
Destination Analysts Key Findings to Know
From Destination Analysts' Travel Sentiment Report
  • 61.9% of American travelers say they have or will get vaccinated, up 5% from last week. Vaccine jealousy is a thing, too: 43.5% of all American travelers report feeling jealous of those that have already received their vaccine.

  • Americans’ optimism about the course of the pandemic is up a staggering 40 percentage points since the start of the year, with 60.3% feeling things will get better in the next month.

  • This optimism especially shines through in their feelings towards travel. Fully two-thirds are now in a travel readiness state-of-mind. Americans rate their level of excitement about travel this year a 6.6, up from 6.2 in just the past week. 

  • A majority of American travelers no longer feel unsafe traveling in taxis or rideshares, visiting indoor attractions, dining in restaurants, shopping, flying on airplanes and staying in hotels. This week, 41.5% are firmly confident they can travel safely in the current environment, up nearly 5 percentage points since the week prior, and 17 percentage points since January 3. 

  • Still, COVID continues to be top-of-mind and should not be discounted in travel messaging. As an example, 43.1% of Spring Break travelers say they remain “very concerned” about contracting the virus on their trip.

  • In looking at what attributes are important to travelers as they consider cities as places to visit, safety still remains largely on top, with 74.3% saying this is important. A relaxing environment, good weather, welcoming atmosphere, ease in getting around and scenic beauty are also most critical.

  • Where the pandemic is still most challenging the experiences travelers typically seek from urban destinations is in sports, festivals, performing arts and other live events, but other tenets such as museums and dining scene are also still seen as challenged.

  • Americans are returning to a comfort with tourism closer to home. A pandemic-record 52.1% feel comfortable going out for leisure activities within their own community. While 46.9% of Americans still agree they don’t want tourists in their own community yet, this is down 12 percentage points since the start of the year. Another pandemic record 47.7% said they would be happy if they saw an ad promoting their community for tourism when safe, up from 35.1% January 3.
Events and Meetings Update
From SCT's group business development manager, Samantha Paull
As Sonoma County continues to progress through the stages of reopening, and while awaiting gathering guidelines from the State, we want to continue to share trends and insights that support you in planning for and welcoming group business.

Adding to top trends previously shared, Sonoma County is the ideal destination to meet and exceed group expectations in the following evolving trends:

Curated Experiential Elements Delivered to Attendees:

As events turned virtual, we saw strategies continually evolve in the effort to engage virtual attendees, show registrants appreciation, and have attendees find value. The invaluable content via learning opportunities and engaging topics remains the core programming element; however, amenities that attendees once enjoyed in-person were found to be an engagement driver and impactful to the overall satisfaction with the event as well. With a rise in curated packages and experiential elements being shipped to virtual attendees, event producers have found these inclusions create pre-event excitement, connects attendees to the experience during their virtual attendance, and create a lasting impression.

With an abundance of Sonoma County makers and artisans we have a unique opportunity to share our destination near and far. It is clear that some level of virtual attendance will continue as in-person returns with a hybrid format. Ensuring in-person and virtual attendees enjoy curated memorable experiences will continue to be a success measure for events. As the Group Business Development team supports planners with bookings, we share resources and ensure the opportunity to share Sonoma County with virtual attendees is top of mind.

We invite you to send us your packages or product offerings that are available for shipping, in support of the options and referrals we share with groups interested in enriching their virtual attendee experience with curated deliveries.

Winning Attendees Over with Wellness:

Wellness is also a continually evolving trend in meeting and events. Integration of wellness, within both virtual and in-person programming is an experience that enhances the attendee’s satisfaction with the event. As events have been reimagined this past year, adding stretch or yoga breaks, meditation moments, short workouts, and so on have been well received.

Sonoma County’s holistic approach to wellness, which incorporates spas, outdoor adventure, wineries, restaurants, hotels, and everything in between, creates a unique wellness experience. With a wealth of partners who offer experiences and amenities that support visitor wellness, we know Sonoma County is prepared to support groups looking to integrate wellness into their future programs. 

Safety and duty of care is a key element to the return of events and business travel. As shared previously, there are trusted resources, such as the CDC and Event Safety Alliance that help planners and the event industry prepare for safe events. As we find additional resources and initiatives that may be worth considering and support your preparations, we want to share those options as well.

  • Onsite Rapid Testing: Although potentially an expensive inclusion, some groups will opt to integrate rapid testing. We are investigating local providers for this service, much like what we have seen evolve with EventScan.

  • Arrival Screening: Meeting the need for temperature checks and screening, we may see some events integrate digital solutions, such as HealthShield and other similar products.

  • Mobile Healthy Passport: The VeriFLY app, which American Airlines and other travel suppliers have adopted is a mobile health passport to verify Covid-19 status and travel guidelines. Hyatt recently announces plans to integrate VeriFLY+Stay with event programs, offering attendees this mobile solution to use prior to travel, in verifying Covid-19 test results and any other health or safety criteria required by the meeting's organizers.

As a result of advocacy from the tourism, hospitality, and events community, it is anticipated that we will receive event and meeting guidance from the CDPH on or around April 1st. In addition to the details of the guidance once received, we will continue to share trends as they arise, in support of our united effort to showcase how Sonoma County is ideal for groups.

We truly appreciate the opportunity to partner with you and your team, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Group Business Development team if we can be of additional support.
Website Insights for
During the period of March 5-11, 2021, the top content that people were engaging with on the website was: the coronavirus page, lots of wineries and coastal content: wineries off the beaten path, Bodega Bay, wineries with gardens, 13 wineries you should know, mustard fields, glamping and unique inns, and several itineraries such as the 48-hour getaway. Our blog saw traffic for four off the beaten path hikes, 12 new food trucks, restaurants with views, black owned businesses, and what to expect after the fires (still lingering fire worry!). San Francisco is #1 and represents 13% of the total traffic this past week. San José is #3, Los Angeles is #4, Sacramento is #6, Oakland is #8. We see 3 out-of-state cities in the top 25: New York, Chicago, and Seattle.
Brand NEW Vacation Rental, Lodging Comparison
Occupancy Comparison of Hotel & Short Term Lodging
Things to note:

  • The dark blue line represents Hotels, and light blue line Short Term Lodging.
  • Hotel occupancy data is from STR.
  • Short Term Lodging data is from AirDNA.


Room nights sold for short term lodgings performed exceptionally strong in January at 28.6k rooms sold. This level held 9.8% growth year-over-year, despite supply remaining down 23.4% YOY and ADR falling 10.3% MOM.

Hotel occupancy in January increased 3.5% as room nights grew to 86.7k, beginning to turn a a three month descent around as traveler sentiment improves and vaccinations continue.
STR Tracking for Sonoma County
Things to Note:

  • STR is comparing “Weekly Year Over Year.”
  • 47 of the county’s 125 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