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 feel less anxious about the pandemic, but normalcy still seems ways away, due primarily to the slow vaccine rollout. People are open to travel inspiration and they are beginning to plan their 2021 trips. Safety concerns, flexible booking and cancellation policies, and clear travel restrictions are important aspects for decisions around travel destination and provider.
American's Travel State-of-Mind
May 29, 2020 - January 31, 2021
Destination Analysts Key Findings to Know
From Destination Analysts' Travel Sentiment Report
  • After heightening last week, Americans’ anxiety about the pandemic and its impact lessened this week. More Americans are now feeling the coronavirus situation in the United States will stay relatively the same over the next month, at 35.0% up from 26.9% since last week.

  • Americans’ perceptions of the safety of travel and leisure activities continue to be the among the best they have been during the pandemic.

  • However, Americans still generally feel some distance from “normal.” Right now, the abilities to work/make money, be happy and enjoy relationships with family are where the greatest proportions of American travelers feel closer to normal. Unfortunately, just 21.4 percent feel more normalcy around being able to travel as they like.

  • Vaccines play a large role in a return to normal. When asked what needed to happen before they feel things have returned back to a normalcy they are comfortable with, there was the most agreement with having an effective vaccine widely distributed in the United States, followed by an effective vaccine widely distributed across the globe.

  • While excitement for travel in both the short (5.5/10) and longer term (5.9) decreased slightly this week and half still report they would feel guilty traveling right now, Americans’ overall state-of-mind around travel is at levels last seen in Fall 2020, before the most recent surge in cases. This week, 56.6% say they are in a readiness mindset when it comes to travel.

  • Americans remain in a period of being the most open to travel inspiration that they have been since the onset of the pandemic 11 months ago.

  • Although 56.1% still don’t want travelers in their own community right now, 40.5% said they would be happy to see an ad promoting their community as a place for tourism when it’s safe.

  • Just under half of American travelers say they will take at least one trip in the next three months (February-April). Many of these trips will remain regional, although cities as a trip destination have grown in popularity (40.9%), surpassing small towns and rural destinations (31.6%).

  • Two-thirds of American travelers did some kind of travel planning activity in the last week, from making travel reservations (11.2%) to researching travel ideas online (27.6%) to simply daydreaming about a vacation (33.2%).

  • Looking at where Americans dreamt of visiting in the last week, many had their minds on sun and fun, Europe, iconic cities, as well as classic outdoor destinations.
Website Insights for
During the period of Jan 22-28, the top content that people were engaging with on the website was: the coronavirus page, restaurants, planning, glamping & unique lodging, coastal, and outdoors content. Our blog saw traffic for Sonoma County town on the New York Times list, Valentines, and favorite hikes.

San Francisco represents 11% of the total traffic this past week. Sacramento is #6, San José is #7, Oakland is #9, and Los Angeles is #12. We see 5 out-of-state cities in the top 25: New York, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, and Dallas.
STR Tracking for Sonoma County
Things to Note:

  • STR is comparing “Weekly Year Over Year.”
  • 52 of the county’s 116 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