Ongoing Study: How COVID-19 Affects Destination Organizations

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MMGY Travel Intelligence, in partnership with Destinations International Foundation, has unveiled the inaugural findings of surveys which tracked how North American Destination Organizations were affected by COVID-19 and what changes the companies made over this period of drastic change. Preliminary findings show that, over the course of two weeks, the sector's outlook, operations and marketing spending were dramatically changed by the continuing effects of the pandemic.

The survey was divided into two parts: 

  1. Wave I: In the first round of studies, conducted in early March and prior to many of the COVID-19-related travel bans currently in place in North America, less than 20 percent had reported reducing or postponing marketing spend and a similar amount reported restricting domestic travel for employees. The majority of destination organizations are now reporting a strong expectation that coronavirus will have an extreme impact on their business over the next six months.
  2. Wave II: In the second round of studies, conducted just last week, findings showed that over 80 percent of destination organizations surveyed have reduced or postponed sales and marketing spend, and more than 60 percent have asked all employees to work from home.

At present, the effects of COVID-19 are all-encompassing for this sector. The percentage of destinations reporting coronavirus-related postponements and/or cancellations of conferences, meetings or events surged from under 40 percent in Wave I to almost 100 percent in Wave II. The number of respondents receiving 20 or more COVID-19-related inquiries a day rose from 4 percent in Wave I to 30 percent in Wave II. These inquiries are primarily related to information about event cancellations and attraction closings, as well as business related functions such as conferences, conventions and business meetings.

The survey also asked destination organizations about their preparedness planning. Data shows only 30 percent of respondents stated that their destination organization had a pandemic emergency plan in place prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. While this seems low, it is most likely attributable to these organizations relying on plans from state governments rather than developing their own.

This survey was conducted among employees of destination organizations representing U.S. cities, regions and states. Wave 1 of the survey was conducted March 4-8, 2020, and Wave II was conducted March 16-22, 2020. This study does not include U.S. consumers.

See the report here.

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