If you’re considering a number of venues for a spring or summer drive-to meeting, you might want to make proximity one of the key elements you assess. The latest tracking study of American travelers by the market research firm Longwoods International suggests that the higher cost of filling their gas tank might lead some would-be attendees to put their travel plans on hold.
According to the study, the percentage of travelers who report that rising gas prices will “greatly impact” their travel in the next six months jumped from 29% on March 2nd to 38% on March 16th. One in three travelers now say they will reduce the number of trips they take, and a similar percentage report they are choosing destinations closer to home.
“With the average cost of gas in the U.S. above $4.25 per gallon, the travel patterns for spring/summer travel season may be different than originally expected as folks may alter how they travel and spend in order to stay within their budget,” says Amir Eylon, president and CEO of Longwoods International. “The push-pull of pandemic versus gas prices will require the tourism industry to be nimble as demand fluctuates and travel costs weigh on consumers who are paying significantly more at the pump.”
In good news, the study shows that concerns about COVID-19 continue to decline, with 73% of travelers feeling safe traveling outside their communities and 69% supporting the opening of their communities to visitors. Those are both pandemic highs. Plus, nearly three in four people surveyed say they feel safe dining and shopping locally.
While the opportunity to add vacation days to a summer or spring meeting was a strong incentive to travel to a destination away from home, that appeal will likely be weaker this year. A better strategy to encourage attendance: keep things local or provide alternative transportation to solo car trips.