It's about behavior.


Throughout the Marketing Outlook Forum (MOF) this week, we saw line charts showing that consumer attitudes during the pandemic have not changed very much. This is definitely true, but SMARInsights has found that even though attitudes have not significantly changed – behavior has.

SMARInsights' Denise Miller presented highlights from our tracking research at MOF, and we wanted to share some of the deeper insights we have observed. You can see her presentation by watching the video below.



What we heard at MOF: Only about a quarter of Americans are "ready to travel."

SMARInsights:  Again, this is true – if you look at attitudes. But more than 50% have taken a trip and even more (up to 80%) have participated in activities that suggest they are open to travel. There is a lot of potential travel that your destination can capture now and over the next few months. The trips are different – but many include hotel usage that can help generate more revenue for your destination.

What we heard at MOF:  Target "Ready to Travel" audiences because they are the easiest to motivate and will generate the best return.

SMARInsights:  This group may not be the best target for a couple of reasons. First of all, there is a large group – almost half of leisure travelers – who are cautious but won’t say they are ready to travel. However, they are actually traveling almost as much as the “Ready to Travel” group. The size of this group and their travel behaviors make "Cautious" consumers a bigger potential audience. The “Ready to Travel” group also may not be a good target for some destinations because they are the least likely to follow safety protocols – and therefore may cause negative reactions from local residents.

What we heard at MOF:  People are not ready to see travel advertising – a large percentage don’t think travel ads should be shown right now.

SMARInsights:  When people see actual travel ads their response is positive. Ratings of ads that have been running during the summer are quite positive – even when they don’t directly address the pandemic. And people who recall seeing destination advertising are more likely to visit that destination. So you shouldn’t wait until people are ready to see ads – you should be out there advertising now.

What we heard at MOF:  Things are not going to change significantly until there is a vaccine.

SMARInsights: Attitudes may not change much, but behavior is continuing to change and more people are traveling. And once they have traveled – even if just for a day trip – they say they are more likely to travel in the future. So as our industry gets busy inspiring travel and showing people how to travel in a way that makes them feel safe, we will see more progress. And progress will come more quickly. This is definitely a time to be inspiring travel – and helping people feel more comfortable about taking a trip. 

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