Today's Takeaways
From SCT's director of marketing systems & insights, Ariane Hiltebrand
This week’s traveler sentiment update by Destination Analysts shows that fear of a fall surge in COVID cases is starting to impact American travelers’ readiness to travel especially during the upcoming holiday season.

The good news is that people are nonetheless excited about traveling in the future and this week’s survey shows opportunities for travel providers to craft enticing travel gifts for the holiday gift-giving season. Let’s give the gift of travel to Sonoma County.
Americans' Travel Plans for the Holiday Season
(As of Oct. 18) From Destination Analysts
Destination Analysts Key Findings to Know
From Destination Analysts' Travel Sentiment Report
  • High concerns among American travelers’ about contracting the coronavirus and its impact on personal finances and the national economy rose this week, as numbers of cases soared across the U.S.

  • Pessimism about the course the virus will take in the U.S is now clearly on a renewed growth path.

  • While these darkening feelings did not meaningfully impact safety perceptions about travel, they did adversely affect both travel readiness and trip plans.

  • It appears that nearly 25% fewer Americans will be traveling to celebrate the holidays this year. The majority of those not traveling have a pandemic related reason for not doing so.

  • Those who will travel during the holidays are planning on taking 2.4 trips on average, with 35.4% saying they will travel by air. However, 27.8% plan to decrease their spending on these holiday trips relative to last year. Over one-third (34.8%) plan to test themselves for COVID-19 prior to their trips.

  • Nearly 40% of convention travelers say they have plans to attend a convention/group meeting event in the next year. The percent of convention travelers who report they would be happy if asked to attend such a meeting in the next six months has grown to 49.7% from 40.8% in June. Trust in both the conference organizers to institute protocols that look out for attendees’ health and fellow attendees to behave appropriately as not to spread COVID-19 has also grown significantly.

  • It is important for the travel industry to be realistic about the threat that virtual meetings pose to the volume and economic impact of this type of travel in the future. While 60% of American travelers say they prefer or strongly prefer in-person to virtual conventions/conferences, one-in-five feel neutral—fine to go either way—and another 20% say they prefer virtual.
Website Insights for sonomacounty.com
Fortunately, website traffic during the period of Oct 9-15, was up +28% compared to the week of Oct 2-8. Top content that people were engaging with: Life Opens Up fall campaign, the coronavirus info page, and editorial about pumpkins, Bodega Bay, fall colors, Halloween, wineries, restaurants, hiking, nature parks, and glamping itineraries with West County towns and parks. Our blog saw traffic for what to expect after the fires, outdoor movies, thanksgiving, black owned businesses. In terms of city geo locations for website visitors we see our key drive markets on top of the list: San Francisco represented 15% of the total traffic this past week. Los Angeles moved up to #3, San José is still #4, Oakland moved up to #6, Sacramento moved down to #7. We now see 4 out-of-state cities in the top 25: New York, Chicago, Seattle, and Denver.
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