Hilton Survey Reveals ‘Travel Memory Deficit,’ Pent Up Travel Demand

MCLEAN, VA—After six months of restrictions brought on by a global pandemic, it may be no surprise that Americans are missing travel right now. But what is surprising, according to a new study conducted on behalf of Hilton, Americans say travel is their most frequently recalled happy memory, more than special occasions or personal achievements and the majority cite creating lasting memories as a primary motive for trips.

All this staying at home leads 90% of survey respondents to believe the nation is facing a travel memory deficit that will have long-lasting impact, including greater stress and missed opportunity for special moments with loved ones.

Given this, a majority are already looking ahead to making their next travel memory, as 94% of Americans surveyed are planning to travel again. And two-thirds vow to quit putting off taking trips and make their dream vacations a reality.

“Travel is an unstoppable force, and we know consumers are eager to reconnect with the people and places they love,” said Danny Hughes, EVP/president, Americas, Hilton. “Hilton is ready to welcome guests back with all the assurances they need—best-in-class hospitality, cleanliness and flexibility—to create their new memories whenever they are ready to be out and traveling again.”

Now, as the world begins to shift from dreaming to planning and even travel again, Hilton is debuting a new global marketing campaign, “To New Memories.” This new campaign encompasses TV ads, online videos and other digital and social content that is intended to encourage travelers to make new memories with Hilton. The video content depicts a series of reconnection moments consumers have been missing, highlighting the new memories waiting to be made with Hilton. “To New Memories” has been rolled out across the globe during the past six weeks. The U.S. creative originally debuted on social media, followed by television commercials and online videos that are airing now.

The survey results provide details about how U.S. consumers are thinking differently about travel. With the travel memory deficit at the forefront of consumers’ minds, a pent-up demand to travel is bubbling over: 66% of those travelers surveyed will quit putting off special trips they have always wanted to take and almost two-thirds (63%) of those looking to travel again will choose more relaxing travel over adventure travel.

New travel memories are on the horizon for many. According to the survey, eight in 10 (80%) travelers will prioritize creating new travel memories when they choose to travel again. Among travelers who plan to travel again, more than one-third of Americans surveyed (39%) plan to travel more than they previously did once travel restrictions are lifted and three in five (62%) will be more adventurous by journeying to brand new places to make travel memories.

Among the results of the consumer survey:

  • Collecting Travel Memories: American travelers say making memories with loved ones is one of the most important reasons they travel (63%), second only to traveling for relaxation.
  • Travel as Self-Care: More than three-quarters (76%) believe their travel memories have helped shape who they are today, while almost one in three (29%) travelers reported their favorite travel memory stands out because they felt like they were their “best self.”
  • Happy Travelers: Nearly seven in 10 surveyed (69%) say travel has given them lifelong memories; nine in 10 count travel memories as some of their happiest memories; and female travelers are more likely than male travelers to have gathered memories from travel they say they will remember forever (73% vs. 64%).
  • Destination: Memories: About seven in 10 (71%) travelers surveyed say their trips have been made memorable by the destination itself.
  • Travel Buddies are Better: Of those surveyed, nearly three in five (57%) Americans who travel believe that the people who accompany them are what make their trips unforgettable.
  • Back in the Day: Among a variety of childhood memories, one-third (33%) of Americans surveyed remember those about special trips and travel with their family the most often; more than those who think about memories tied to holiday celebrations or even family traditions.
  • Intangible Travel Benefits: Close to one in two travelers surveyed said trips have given them an appreciation of nature (47%) or a way to take a break from work or study (46%). A similar number (44%) link travel to improved relationships with their friends and family and believe they’ve even gained a feeling of gratitude for what they have in their lives (44%).
  • Treasured Memories: Among travelers, 54% surveyed said travel memories are more important than their favorite piece of jewelry, while 53% say those memories are more important than their smartphone.
  • Hotel Happiness: Almost all (91%) travelers surveyed agree hotels help make a trip memorable for them, most notably for being able to wake up next to a view (62%).