Today's Takeaways
From SCT's director of marketing systems & insights, Ariane Hiltebrand
This week’s traveler sentiment update by Destination Analysts indicates the fall surge in COVID cases is negatively impacting near term travel plans. However, in general, travel readiness, perceptions of travel safety, and excitement to travel are rebounding from previous weeks’ low. Advertisers are being reminded again this week, that people want to see ads with people wearing masks. The new vaccines that are now in the final approval stages are on people’s minds for easing future travel barriers, but in the meantime, well-communicated health and safety protocols remain critical to making individuals feel safe about traveling this winter and beyond.

I'll leave you with this stat from Longwoods International, which states 53% of Americans surveyed indicate they are not planning to take a trip this holiday season (Travel Sentiment Study, Wave 24).
Destination Analysts Key Findings to Know
From Destination Analysts' Travel Sentiment Report
  • While Americans overwhelmingly remain in an elevated state of anxiety, fewer feel the coronavirus situation is going to get worse in the next month, the perceptions of travel activities as safe rebounded, and excitement for a potential getaway, openness to travel inspiration and the ability of discounts to motivate travel all improved

  • Nearly 6-in-10 Americans have returned to a readiness state of mind around travel.

  • A pandemic-high 36.5% of American travelers say they would be happy—or very happy—to see an ad promoting tourism to the place where they live. However, the desire to see people wearing masks in all travel ads has remained strong.

  • The current surge is not without its impact: 60.2% say that the recent increases in COVID-19 cases around the country have made them less likely to travel in the next three months and 41.8% report that they have cancelled or postponed an upcoming leisure trip because of the worsening of the pandemic in the U.S.

  • Nevertheless, eight months into the pandemic, Americans do exhibit signs of adapting towards regaining normalcy, needing fewer circumstances to feel comfortable returning to their pre-COVID lifestyle.

  • Since September, there has been a 5% decrease in the percent that affirm they would take a COVID-19 vaccine that is developed this year or in early 2021 (39.2%), but the length of time Americans say they prefer to wait to take an approved vaccine has lessened.

  • If a COVID-19 vaccine was required before traveling, nearly 60% of American travelers said this would make air travel feel safer and nearly 50% said they this would make cruise travel feel safer. In addition, 36.7% of American travelers say the availability of an official document confirming COVID-19 inoculation would make them more—or much more—likely to travel in the next 12 months.

  • When asked about the COVID-related protocols they feel are absolutely necessary to feel comfortable attending special events and festivals, desires are similar to retail businesses, in that they want masking, frequent cleaning and limited crowd sizes to ensure social distancing is possible.
Website Insights for sonomacounty.com
During the period of Oct 30 - Nov 5, the top content that people were engaging with on the website was: Life Opens Up fall campaign page, hotel and lodging pages, the coronavirus page and editorial about Halloween, pumpkins, Bodega Bay, fall colors, wineries, restaurants, hiking, nature parks, and glamping itineraries with West County towns and parks.

Our blog saw traffic for thanksgiving, what to expect after the fires, outdoor movies, and wineries for Christmas and New Year’s. San Francisco represented 15% 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 5 out-of-state cities in the top 25: New York, Chicago, Seattle, Reno and Dallas.
Tripadvisor 2020 Thanksgiving Travel Index

We recommend reading Tripadvisor’s 2020 Thanksgiving Travel Index, which contains insights suggesting over half (56%) of Americans will still be traveling this Thanksgiving, and that Florida and Arizona will represent the most popular domestic destinations for the holiday. 
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