Weekly Consumer Insights: The Desire to Travel Close - June 1


In this week’s Harris Poll Tracker, we gain insights on the longer the pandemic goes, the greater the demand to get back to normal activities, such as travel. Travel is the battleground between fear and desire in America and it could be a key indicator in returning to our new normal. We also see social issues and safety continue to make waves.


Travel & Leisure – AAA did not issue a Memorial Day travel forecast for the first time in over 20 years, as 95% of Americans chose to stay home over the holiday weekend.

  • Revenge travel is real. With shelter in place extending in some states, there is pent up demand for major purchases: vacations and travel. There was a 5% jump in those planning a vacation back in March compared to mid-May (29%).
    • Those passing through TSA checkpoints fell 96% below same day numbers one year earlier, but by late May, the figure has tripled (267, 451)
  • There is still some reluctance in traveling far (less than 40% will fly, stay in a hotel or attend a sporting event), however close to home travel and spending could boom as 71% miss dining out at area restaurants and frequenting local coffee shops (48%).
  • As states begin to open, there’s a strong need to connect with family and friends (57%) and get a change of scenery (48%). Those residents in states most impacted by covid-19 (highest level of confirmed cases) are feeling this the most.
  • Fear remains in using public transportation (anything but a family vehicle), however 17% of Americans say buying a new car is a major purchase they are planning for once things return to normal and over half (54%) plan to purchase a vehicle in the next six months. Could we see similar trends for new/used boats?

Social Issues in the Driver’s Seat – Americans have sacrificed a lot for themselves and their families amid covid-19 but even more so now, we are looking to our leaders for direction during these continued uncertain times. We are vulnerable as a nation right now, and some more than others. Safety continues to be a topic of discussion in society and in return to the workplace.

  • Devastating inequalities still exist and have become clearer during the pandemic – poverty, hunger, education, domestic violence, job creation – if none of these affect you, consider yourself fortunate. As we move beyond the pandemic, these issues will continue to affect Americans: access to healthcare (91%), good health and well-being (91%), education (85%), job creation (85%), hunger (84%), poverty (82%), gun violence (77%) and domestic violence (76%).
  • The pandemic is economically hurting women and minorities the most: women and women of color accounted for 55% of the 20.5 million jobs lost in April. Women are also heavily represented in industries hit hardest (travel, restaurants, childcare) and they make up more than 60% of low-wage workers.
    • Nearly 9 in 10 women say job creation and poverty will be important to them personally moving forward.
  • There is a large gap between what Americans believe is safe and what they can afford. 91% say their own personal vehicle is the safest; compared to subway transit (79% say not safe), airplanes (72% not safe), taxis and rideshare (70% and 65% respectively) but there are economic disparities in affording a car. Additionally, older Americans are mostly likely to return to the office first and lower income will be the first back on the subway.

*Many organizational leaders worry the improvements made in diversity, inclusion, and the climate will be lost in companies looking to recover as quickly as possible. However, vulnerability to COVID-19 is shared by all and Americans may lose trust of organizations that no longer seem to have our collective best interest in mind.

Sign Me Up – Free trials or subscription sign-ups rose 35% in March/April among music, news, fitness or online learning services, but do Americans plan to keep these for the long term? 33% of online learning/news and 20% of online fitness subscribers plan to drop the service after payment is required. Now is the time to retain new customers and provide additional personalized experiences to keep them engaged with your content.

America Runs (to the water?) – One in five Americans now count themselves as one of the new runners in the pandemic running boom. Most are looking for both mental and physical benefits and want to improve physical health but also relieve stress and anxiety. Running is an activity that doesn’t require equipment.

  • New runners skew Gen Z, millennia and Gen X; with a large percentage being affluent parents (20% of those with a household income of $100k+). Staying motivated is a struggle with a lack of available training knowledge and information (33%) cited as an obstacle. That said, new runners are committed: 42% are excited to keep running post-pandemic and 49% are feeling challenged.
    • Can our industry mobilize new anglers and boaters in the same way?


A lot has been made of trying to understand whether pandemic behaviors and routines will become long-lasting (outdoor physical activities, subscription sign-ups) or if they are just stopgaps. Americans will keep looking for outdoor activities to combat cabin-fever and the stress and anxiety of the current environment for both themselves AND their families. Americans are not traveling far but there is an itch to get out and explore new things safely. Fishing and boating are the remedy we all need and the water is open to EVERYONE. Now is the time to equip the nation with the tools they need to safely get out on the water and develop or rekindle their love for fishing and boating.

RBFF receives these weekly consumer insights from its partners at Colle McVoy. This study was fielded online among a nationally representative sample of 2,032 U.S. adults between May 20-22, 2020.

Stay tuned to the RBFF Blog for additional weekly consumer insights related to COVID-19.