Travel Industry Inspires Americans to Plan a Future Trip

WASHINGTON—As states and cities move to reopen, the American travel industry has launched a major campaign with a clear message for Americans: It’s OK to start planning your next trip—whenever it may be.

The “Let’s Go There” campaign, which will extend into 2021, is the result of an industry-wide collaboration of more than 75 businesses and organizations that spent months examining the question: What is the right message to potential travelers while the nation navigates the realities of a pandemic?

The answer: Take advantage of the demonstrated personal benefits of travel planning, even by just thinking about a future trip—and whenever travelers are ready to actually take it, the industry will be ready to safely welcome them back.

According to new polling conducted by happiness researcher Michelle Gielan, 97% of respondents say that having a trip planned makes them happier, while 82% reported that it makes them “moderately” or “significantly” happier. Seventy-one percent reported feeling greater levels of energy when they had a trip planned in the next six months.

When asked if survey respondents agreed with these statements, the following percentages said yes:

  • Simply knowing there was something to look forward to would bring me joy: 95%
  • Planning travel for some time in the next six months would bring me happiness: 80%
  • Planning something would make me feel more in control amidst so much uncertainty: 74%
  • Getting to travel and feeling safe while doing it would bring me peace of mind: 96%

These findings come at a time when studies have shown Americans are experiencing the lowest levels of happiness in 50 years. They also accord with previous research finding an inherent sense of happiness and satisfaction that is generated by the mere act of planning a future travel experience—and that anticipating a trip might even have a stronger positive effect than reflecting on one that has already happened.

“Booking a trip—even just getting it on the calendar—might be the very thing we need to restore our emotional immune system after months of mounting uncertainty and stress,” said Gielan, founder, Institute for Applied Positive Research and an expert in the science of happiness.

“The Let’s Go There campaign aims to tell travelers: When it’s time for you, we’ll be ready,” said Roger Dow, president/CEO, U.S. Travel Association, whose organization is supporting the activities of the coalition. “There is pleasure in planning travel, and when the moment is right, the industry is committed to being well-prepared for the safe return of travelers. Our industry recognizes the need to pull together in this moment—as colleagues, not competitors—in a united message of welcome, preparedness and desire to serve travelers’ needs.”

While public health is the top priority, the need to get Americans moving again as soon as safely possible is urgent for jobs and the economy. Travel supported employment for one in 10 American workers pre-pandemic—but more than half of those jobs were lost between the onset of the pandemic and May 1. The travel industry is committed to being fully prepared for the moment travel demand returns, in order to keep its customers and workers safe and healthy and to restore those jobs as quickly as possible.

“We don’t know when the travel industry will fully recover, but we are confident it will recover,” said Jill Estorino, president/managing director, Disney Parks, experiences and products, and a co-chair of the Let’s Go There Coalition. “We have all been here before—this time may look different, but at the end of the day our industry is incredibly resilient, and the memories and experiences we enable cannot be replaced. This campaign is a first step in inspiring Americans to think about planning a vacation, and encouraging them to look forward to experiencing the wonder and joy—and even magic—that only travel can offer.”

Brian King, global officer, Marriott International, and a co-chair of the Let’s Go There Coalition, added, “As the norms of travel evolve to ensure health and safety practices are firmly in place, I have immense optimism that when it feels right to do so, travelers will open their front door and see the world again. The yearning for togetherness and a change of scenery highlight just how much we miss the opportunity to escape and experience something new. When travelers turn their wanderlust into plans, emotional excitement grows as a host of dream destinations are ready to be discovered and explored.”

Social media content will be tagged using #LetsMakePlans.

The Let’s Go There Coalition includes more than 75 partnering businesses and counting, including American Airlines; American Express; the American Resort Development Association; Chase; Delta Air Lines; Disney Parks, Experiences and Products; Ecolab; Enterprise Holdings Inc.; Expedia Group; Hilton; the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Visitor & Convention Bureau; Hyatt Hotels Corporation; the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority; Loews Hotels & Co; Marriott International; PepsiCo; Sabre; the South Dakota Department of Tourism; United Airlines; the U.S. Travel Association; Visa; Visit California; Visit Spokane; and World Cinema Inc., among other organizations.

Creative and media efforts are being supported by dentsu mcgarrybowen and the Publicis Groupe.

The fully integrated campaign will be live over the coming months on national broadcast networks, including CMT, Cooking Channel, ESPN, Freeform and National Geographic Channel. Two spots will air on ESPN’s Monday Night Football on Sept. 14. The campaign will also be seen on online video platforms (YouTube and Hulu), will air as radio spots on the iHeartMedia network, and will appear online as digital display, social and programmatic ads.

Assets have been distributed via a wide network of travel industry partners to build an echo chamber of messages that will reach millions of travelers over the coming months.