What Location Data Tells Us About Post-Pandemic Tourism

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Data-driven insights have become crucial as the world prepares to reopen and drive growth to key travel destinations. Every single consumer segment has had to change their lifestyles and adapt to a changed landscape. This increases the urgency of collecting timely data to inform decisions as opposed to relying on past wisdom.  

As one might have predicted, vaccination rates across each destination seem to be influencing travel intent. We’ve collected consumer data across the US to show how behaviors have evolved from pre-pandemic to now and how the vaccine is going to play a major role in shaping future travel trends. 

With insights on people, places, and products, brands can ensure they understand, target, and reach the right consumer to ensure maximum MROI. 

A Rising Preference for Open Places 

The volume of visitors to locations such as Yellowstone National Park and Grand Canyon National Park has not only increased from 2020 levels but also surpassed 2019 levels. People are looking to travel to destinations that are not crowded and offer wide open areas that reduce the chances of infection. Destinations can adapt to this interest by offering camping spots—or other such offerings—to attract visitors still wary of crowded places. 

Most Visited Destinations Are Those with Higher Vaccination Rates

While international travel might take a while to return to pre-pandemic levels, domestic tourism has seen a large spike since vaccinations took off. Most destinations and places of interest such as Disneyland and Universal Studios are looking to attract domestic visitors in the interim.

We looked at the most visited tourist spots in the US for 2021, and one common trend is that these are located in states with higher vaccination rates, or are offering free vaccines at these spots. Examples are Alaska, New York, and California.

Personalizing Offerings Will Be More Critical Than Ever in this New Climate

Understanding and targeting the right consumer is crucial to drive growth, and brands will need to understand the new audience segments that have arisen as a result of the pandemic. Audience segments can be segregated into two broad categories: 

  • Covid-fatigued audiences: those who are tired of staying at home and are open to high-risk destinations and will be looking to travel soon
  • Shielding audiences: Those who are risk-averse and are more concerned about crowds — or high-risk destinations that attract crowds — or are traveling to destinations with low vaccination rates and the like.

Destinations can tailor their messaging by partnering with companies that can match location intelligence to audience profiles.

Studying Detailed Travel Preferences is Key to Attracting Tourists

Studying data from 2019 to 2021, a few trends have emerged indicating changing travel preferences: 

  1. Duration: With work from home still widespread, tourists seem to prefer to travel for longer durations and enjoy working from different locations. Destinations can take advantage of this trend for customized staycations or places with offerings that make working from the destination possible. 
  1. Demographics: People between the ages of 36-45 seem to prefer to be more careful and travelled to destinations with wide open spaces such as National Parks, while younger audiences between the ages of 18-25 prefer amusement parks and other attractions.
  2. Travel Trends: Travelling during weekdays is on the rise compared to 2019, and on average, tourists travelled more on weekdays than weekends. Also, in 2020 for all tourist attractions, the majority of tourists who visited were based out of the same state where the tourist attractions they visited are located. 

Gladys Kong is COO of Near Americas.