Today's Takeaways
From SCT's director of marketing systems & insights, Ariane Hiltebrand
This week’s traveler sentiment update by Destination Analysts reveals that people’s optimism for travel within the next 6 months is growing. While anxiety is still at a high level and impacting short term travel, travelers now plan to take more trips in 2021 to make up for lost time. The vaccination rollout timelines correlate with travel readiness and planned trips.
Destination Analysts Key Findings to Know
From Destination Analysts' Travel Sentiment Report
  • Americans’ anxiety about the pandemic is up. The percentage of Americans highly concerned about personally contracting the virus, their friends or family contracting the virus, the pandemic’s impact on their personal finances and its impact on the national economy overall all increased this week—and, in fact, are among the highest levels they have ever been.

  • But Americans also keep growing more optimistic about the future. This week, 35.0% said they feel the pandemic situation is going to get better in the next month. The only other times this measure of optimism reached this level were the weeks of May 4th and June 8th.

  • This more hopeful outlook for the near future has lifted excitement about travel. Americans’ excitement levels for potential getaways and their 2021 travel vision, as well as their openness to travel inspiration, all grew and are in a pandemic-era high period.

  • In a measurement of “pent up demand,” two-thirds of those whose typical travel patterns were altered by the pandemic say they miss traveling “very much,” and now 22.2% of them say they are going to travel more in 2021 to make up for lost time—up from 18.6% last week. Meanwhile, 50.9% confirm they will return to their pre-pandemic levels of traveling.

  • In the last week alone, 38.7% day-dreamt about leisure travel, 30.3% talked about travel with friends or relatives and 27.0% researched travel ideas online.

  • Americans continue to rate travel and leisure activities as safer than they ever have since the start of the pandemic.

  • The availability and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine remains a primary contributor to the growing optimism Americans are feeling about travel. Two-thirds say the vaccines are making them more optimistic about life returning to normal in the next six months and nearly 60% say they are making them more optimistic that they can travel safely within that same period. More American travelers than ever are saying they will get vaccinated against COVID-19 (66.3%).

  • The pace of vaccine distribution will impact the timing of travel volume and trip types. For example, when parents of school-aged children were posed a scenario in which their own and other children had not been vaccinated by this summer, 43.2% of them said that they will NOT travel with the kids in this situation. This is up nearly 18 percentage points from when we last asked this question the week of December 7th.

  • You can see vaccine expectations and how Americans envision the year in their current travel plans. The percent of Americans with leisure trips planned begins to jump up in May. Right now, 26.1% of American travelers say they already have plans to travel in July.

  • In gauging Americans’ march “back to normal,” we continue to see signs of urban destinations recovering. New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles comprise 3 of the top 5 places Americans say they want to visit this year.

  • However, it appears that rural areas will continue to be strong competitors to cities in a way not seen before the pandemic. Those traveling over the next three months are as likely (even slightly more so) to go to small towns and rural areas as cities and metropolitan areas, and while 32.6% of American travelers say their travel preferences favor visiting cities, 29.7% say their preference is for rural.
Website Insights for
During the period of Jan 15-21, 2021, the top content that people were engaging with on the website was: the coronavirus page, and coastal, crab season and outdoors content. Our blog saw traffic for Sonoma County town on the New York Times list, favorite hikes, and black owned businesses.

San Francisco represents 13% of the total traffic this past week. Sacramento is #5, Oakland is #8, San José is #9, Los Angeles is #12. We see 2 out-of-state cities in the top 25: Boston and New York.
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