Americans are building back their confidence in travel as the U.S. ramps up efforts to get on top of the pandemic. In turn, that‘s brought some positive changes to travel demand in the last few months, especially for domestic tourism and air travel, according to new data from YouGov.
In order to help travel marketers measure the pulse of the rapid change in the travel industry as it recovers, YouGov has delved into the latest consumer trends among key U.S. travel audiences. These are some of the biggest questions facing travel marketers today:
- How much is demand for domestic travel changing now that the vaccination program is rolling out?
- What factors drive people to book a particular vacation destination?
- Who’s ready for air travel and which destinations would they consider going to first?
- What are the best media channels to reach potential travelers post-pandemic?
Local tourism on the rise
As the U.S. accelerated its vaccine administration efforts, domestic demand for travel has now reached its highest point in the past six months, according to data from YouGov Global Travel Profiles, which tracks and measures consumer attitudes and behaviors about travel in 25 countries.
What factors are driving vacationers’ choices? In April 2021, more than two in five U.S. adults (44%) said they planned to vacation in the U.S. at some point in the next 12 months, showing a 10-point increase in domestic demand since November 2020 (34%). This suggests vacations will be closer to home for many this year — likely taking the form of road trips and staycations — and this intention to holiday domestically will be critical to the factors that drive bookings among potential travelers in 2021.
When asked about their motivations in booking a vacation destination in general, Americans who plan on taking a trip in the U.S. this year say overall value for money is their most important factor (42%). It’s important to note here that while consumers are certainly thinking about the price of a vacation, it’s more about whether the price matches the worth of the trip, not simply the dollar cost.
Our research reveals low costs — for example, cheap flights or hotels — rank only as the fifth most important factor among people planning to take a domestic trip this year (29%). This consumer willingness to travel, if the bill fits the experience, will be heartening news for many travel brands, especially ones that are able to position themselves as worth the money.
The great outdoors may be a big feature for many travelers this year. According to research conducted in April, more than a third of U.S. adults (36%) who plan to take a vacation in the U.S. this year say they chose a destination based on its natural beauty. Loved ones are an equally important draw for vacationers this year, with 36% saying that having friends and family nearby will influence their decision to vacation somewhere.
Ready for lift-off
U.S. demand for air travel is growing but still not back to early 2020 levels. Data from YouGov BrandIndex, which measures the health and consideration for brands and sectors on a daily basis, shows an uptick in air travel intentions that began in March. By the end of April, 31% of U.S. adults said they planned to book a flight in the next year.
And air travel intention increased among all age groups. Americans seem more comfortable with booking travel, even older Americans who expressed the lowest level of intention to book air travel throughout the pandemic. As an increasing number of older Americans received their COVID-19 vaccines, the share of Americans aged 50 and older and willing to book a flight increased by seven points from March to April, from 18% to 25%.
Compared to other groups, younger Americans expressed a higher level of air travel intention throughout the last year, and their likelihood to book flights increased over the last few months. In April 44% of U.S. adults aged 18-34 say they‘ll likely book a flight in the next 12 months.
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