Research Predicts U.S. Summer Travel Behaviors for 2020

Cleanliness, health and safety remain a priority when traveling, visiting c-stores.

June 18, 2020

KANSAS CITY, Mo.—The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every aspect of American life, including summer trips.  Service Management Group (SMG), a global customer, patient and employee experience management partner for 500-plus brands, released results of a survey to help convenience retailers understand Americans’ travel plans for 2020.

SMG used BrandGeek, its market intelligence tool, to collect feedback from more than 7,600 respondents and identified three themes likely to define the summer travel season.

The pandemic is disrupting travel plans—Many states are reopening, but consumers remain cautious about travel. In fact, 68% of survey respondents say they’ll travel less than they did last summer, and 86% say COVID-19 has impacted at least some of their summer travel plans. Those respondents who are more concerned about contracting coronavirus were more likely to have changed their travel plans.

Summer travel will on the ground—Traditionally, summer is a peak time for air travel, but 71% of respondents say they’re less likely to travel by plane this year as compared to 2019. While 55% expressed concern about catching the coronavirus during travel, most respondents who indicated they are not concerned about catching the virus said they’re also less likely to travel by plane.

Travelers will prioritize safety and health—Throughout the pandemic, research has shown cleanliness is king, and there’s no exception when it comes to visiting convenience stores. When asked which of the following matters more to them now when deciding to visit a convenience store compared to before the pandemic, 55% of respondents chose cleanliness of location, followed by convenience of location (48%) and fuel prices (41%).

“As states reopen, the majority of consumers are expressing a desire to play it safe throughout the summer,” said Paul Tiedt, senior vice president of research, SMG. “The data indicates consumers are prioritizing cleanliness and safety, choosing brands they trust and doing what they can to limit their exposure to others.”

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