Today's Takeaways
From SCT's director of marketing systems & insights, Ariane Hiltebrand
This week’s traveler sentiment update by Destination Analysts shows that the new fall surge in COVID cases across the U.S. is starting to impact American travelers’ readiness to travel. However, positive signs are emerging that at least a third of travelers have learned to better deal with the pandemic situation compared to previous surges.

Confidence in the safety of travel activities has been staying on course, with air travel and retail shopping activities fairing a lot better than a few months ago. Airport testing programs and continued social distancing protocols are poised to accelerate the return of air travel, while strict mask wearing protocols are going to be important to attract travelers to other indoor leisure activities such as retail shopping.
Americans' Current Feelings About Air Travel
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.

  • As new infection records continued to be set in the U.S., Americans’ strong concerns about virus contraction and the pandemic’s impact on personal finances and the greater economy marched upwards again this week. Pessimism about the virus’ course in the U.S. is firmly back in a heightened period.

  • The increased anxiety about the virus coincides with decreasing excitement levels about taking a getaway in the next month and openness to travel inspiration.

  • Perceptions of travel activities as unsafe and the percent of Americans who agree they have lost their taste for travel for the time being ticked up this week.

  • However, there are signs that travel may not be as significantly impacted as it was in previous surges during the pandemic. 35.1% of American travelers feel they have gained confidence in how to navigate the pandemic in the last three months. Americans are now actually exhibiting less agreement that they will avoid travel until the coronavirus situation is more resolved and their state of mind about travel readiness remained constant from last week.

  • Three-quarters still have trips at least tentatively planned, and the joy travel brings remains ingrained. Nearly 60% of Americans agree that having a vacation scheduled in the next six months would make them feel there is something happy to look forward to.

  • Air travel also looks to continue a measured recovery. Over 35% plan to travel by air in the next 6 months.

  • Examining policies that may bring more Americans back to air travel sooner, comfort with airlines requiring a COVID-19 test prior to boarding increased to 50.7% from 43.2% just two weeks ago.

  • However, social distancing continues to be important to a significant share of Americans when it comes to air travel.

  • Well over 80% of American travelers plan to shop at a retail store at some point in the remainder of the year, although currently, relatively few plan to take a leisure trip specifically to shop for the holidays (6.7%).

  • The health and safety protocols Americans most desire for the in-person retail experience include social distancing guidelines enforced and strict masking requirements, although required masking for patrons and staff is seen as absolutely required by those Americans who still perceive shopping as unsafe.
Website Insights for sonomacounty.com
Website traffic during the period of Oct 16-22, was up +18% compared to the week of Oct 9-15. Top content that people were engaging with: Life Opens Up fall campaign, the coronavirus info page, hotel and lodging pages, 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, and 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 14% of the total traffic this past week. Los Angeles is still #3, San José is still #4, Sacramento moved up to #6, Oakland dropped to #7. We see 3 out-of-state cities in the top 25: New York, Chicago, 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