As we begin to see a light at the end of the COVID tunnel, this is the time to recalibrate our thinking on the impact vaccines may have on travel. Although there is increased optimism about traveler’s sentiment to travel, the reality is that most people are cautious about actually booking a trip.

As one who monitors sentiment on a weekly basis, analysts report that there is continued low confidence to travel right now. Monitoring sentiment has been like riding a roller coaster as the highs and lows can swing dramatically day by day based on the latest news on the pandemic. We saw some positive movement on the release of the vaccines, then a huge drop in travel sentiment when news of surges and super-surges broke. As we continue to observe emotional analysis we see that science and government play a factor on traveler confidence. Personally, I prefer monitoring emotional data as this is actionable, whereas sentiment is the result of a question or a series of questions and not actionable but more indicative.

Destination Analysts report that only 24.7% of the public have the comfort level to travel today. They also report just under 50% will avoid travel until vaccines are widely available.  What will travel look like over the next 90 days? About a third of the traveling public will take a trip. The trip type will continue to focus on road trips with a range of under 250 miles and the majority will include overnight stays. The destinations are typically smaller with access to national or state parks, coastal with uncrowded beaches, outdoor non group activities and with some fun dining options. Naturally, COVID-19 restrictions permitting.

Meanwhile hotels, airlines, restaurants, activity companies continue to struggle and are the ones that really need a shot in the arm.