Update 9/03/2021: Ohio's Travel Industry and the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Shifts in attraction visitor planning and behavior, travelers attitudes toward vaccine mandates
STAYING INFORMED AND BEING AGILE CAN HELP INDUSTRY ADAPT LONG-TERM
Cornell University hosted a webinar this week entitled Managing and Navigating the Pandemic. Panelists included two infectious disease experts from John Hopkins Hospital, along with industry representation from Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts and a luxury restaurant chain in Texas.
“The Delta variant isn’t the last rodeo,” said Dr. Jonathan Zenilman. He and Dr. Clare Rock both said the pandemic will likely and flow for years.
They reinforced what OTA has forecasted from some time now - recovery will not be linear. “It won’t be a straight path,” Zenilman said, “and we will learn to live with it.” While the doctors were referring to public health, we’ve seen corresponding drops in confidence to travel with every virus surge. Controlling the spread is among the best ways to boost our industry.
The visitation numbers show people still want to go out. They still want experiences. In-person meetings are still out-performing virtual gatherings in terms of learning, sales and satisfaction. So we need to create ways to adapt, and continue to prioritize the safety of our employees and guests.
That means we all have to design experiences differently, with safety in mind. We need to amp up listening to our guests and their needs and expectations. We need to share ideas.
Being agile has never been more important. Chrissy Gamble with Four Seasons Hotel and Results said they have reenacted masks for all employees in response to recent outbreaks. They continue to encourage physical distancing and have begun promoting employee safety “vigilance outside of work.”
Rock said other businesses can learn from hospital operations, and reminded all that one doesn’t have to be symptomatic to spread the virus. As the virus is airborne, she said the focus should be on wearing masks, having proper ventilation, physical distancing and isolating symptomatic people.
She reminded all that what is known right now is still evolving. “What we know now may not be what we’ll do in two weeks.”
Some of the recommendations offered during the webinar include the following:
- Meeting planners should ask venues about efficacy of their venue ventilation systems
- Cross-room ventilation isn’t the answer; look for floor to ceiling ventilation.
- Consider using carbon dioxide monitors to measure air flow. If the readings are high, it indicates that air is not circulating
- Rapid COVID tests are becoming more affordable, and they are being recommended for large events
- Meeting venues should offer indoor and outdoor spaces, as planners are increasingly going to demand reimagined spaces
- New builds should consider putting meeting rooms along exterior walls so windows are available
- Restaurants should continue to space out tables. This means you may have to raise the average check.
- Continue to look after the wellbeing of your employees by increasing communications. You don’t have to have all the answers.
- Consider hiring a “hygiene officer,” someone who implements policies, researches best practices, and educates staff. This will be seen as less top-down driven.
- If a lodging property, consider having a dedicated isolation room near an entrance in the event a guest becomes symptomatic.
- Be cautious of vendors trying to sell you solutions. Do your homework to avoid scams.
Above all, be kind and patient with your employees and guests. And with yourself, as we continue to navigate the pandemic.
ADVANCE TICKETING, MULTI-ATTRACTION PASSES AND A FOCUS ON CREATING EXPERIENCES AMONG RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ATTRACTIONS
Fielded by Arival among 1,000 active travelers in June 2021
Arival in partnership with GoCity released “How Visitor Attractions Can Adapt to the New Traveler Path to Purchase” August 2021. Survey respondents are those who have taken at least one overnight trip since January 2019 and intend to travel between July 2021 and June 2022. This is important, as this survey looks at those who are actively traveling already.
- Intent to visit to natural attractions, amusement parks, zoos, aquariums and observatories is growing 2021-22 versus 2019. Intent to visit museums is about the same.
- While overall attraction visitation remains below 2019, guests are spending more – 6% more on trips and 31% more on an attraction visit.
- They’re less likely to seek the advice from friends and family than in 2019.
- They are more likely to use online searches (42%), online travel intermediaries (38%), attraction websites (37%), social media (25%), in-destination awareness (22%) and guidebooks (21%).
- The fastest growing method of conducting research about attractions is through muli-attraction passes, which has more than doubled to 16%.
- Guests are planning attraction visits before they arrive. More than three in four travelers plan their attraction visits before they arrive in a destination.
- They’re also buying tickets in advance. Intent to purchase tickets on the same day of visit fell from 38% in 2019 to 14% in 2021. Nearly half are purchasing attraction tickets online.
- Travelers aren’t fond of timed entry, stating flexibility is important. Cancellation flexibility is also key.
The report offers several recommendations, including the following:
- Attractions should focus on the guest experience – price is a secondary consideration in 2021.
- Offer online and advance ticketing
- Look for ways to upsell or cross-sell, particularly with nearby businesses and other attractions
- Consider multi-attraction passes
MAJORITY OF AMERICAN TRAVELERS SUPPORT VACCINE MANDATES
Key findings from Destination Analysts fielded Aug. 18-20, 2021
Destination Analysts gives a deeper dive into support of indoor vaccine mandates among American travelers.
- 60% support indoor vaccine mandates in their communities, 18% are neutral and 25% are opposed.
- Vaccine mandates have the strongest support among the vaccinated, as well as urban dwellers, those with household incomes higher than $80,000, and parents of children under age 18.
- The greatest opposition can be found among the unvaccinated, those residing in rural areas and those with household incomes below $80,000.
- Compared to Millennials and GenZ, opposition is stronger among older travelers (although the majority across generations is in support).
- Vaccine mandates enjoy greater support among male-identifying travelers.
- The highest concentration of support (65%) is among travelers in the Northeast. In the Midwest, 58% support vaccine mandates, 20% are neutral and 21% are opposed.
Travel Research Round-Up
View the latest trends and traveler sentiments in this one-page research summary.