PART VII: Shifts In The U.S. Media Landscape Amid COVID-19

August 6, 2020

More than five months into COVID-19’s spread throughout the U.S., travel and lifestyle coverage continues to shift to account for everchanging traveler preferences.

Domestic destinations continue to increase in appeal, as U.S. travelers can only visit 25 countries globally at the moment, and many of these places have restrictions. While Americans in general are still weary about traveling (especially internationally), Croatia – the only country in the EU to allow American visitors – has seen a 300% spike in flights from the U.S., showing the overwhelming pent-up demand for international travel.

The following is a compilation of the latest trends covered in the press and feedback from the agency’s close media contacts, as well as recent changes at publication houses:

  • New York’s Phase 4 of reopening has led to many of the city’s iconic tourist attractions welcoming visitors once again. While tourists are starting to trickle in, these establishments are now largely dependent on local residents, leading NYC & Company to launch its hyperlocal “All in NYC” campaign, highlighting the city’s vast offerings for residents. Hotels are relying on staycations, and the agency is increasingly seeing inquiries and coverage around this trend, from outlets like The New York Post, Condé Nast TravelerThe Points Guy and more. This aligns strongly with findings from MMGY Travel Intelligence’s Travel Pulse Survey, which reported that 58% of leisure travelers say they will substitute vacations with staycations for the remainder of 2020.

  • Virtual is still going viral. Airbnb made big waves this past month when announcing its partnership with the Olympics, garnering features in The Washington PostNewsweekAdWeekPOPSUGARThrillist and more. Iceland’s “Let It Out” site launch, which broadcasts users’ screams out to the country’s wilderness, was covered by CBS NewsNPRThe Los Angeles Times and more. Window Swap’s debut, which allows users to enjoy views from others’ windows around the world, made headlines on Fast CompanyFood & WineWell + Good and more.

  • Hotels are taking safety a step further, beyond hand sanitizer stations and other common practices. Properties are having to get creative to differentiate themselves from all other hotels competing to be deemed “the safest.” For example, to account for guests wanting to dine outdoors and on their own, Sesuit Harbor House gives guests a survey upon arrival to then create and deliver custom picnic baskets daily. Some hotels are planning to purchase Serta Simmons Bedding’s new antiviral mattresses. Opening in the midst of the pandemic, hotels like The Roundtree, Amagansett are finding success with putting safety first, with coverage in VogueCNNRobb Report and more.

  • Brands are making big changes to appeal to the ultra affluent. Fiji announced its “Blue Lanes” campaign to welcome tourists arriving by yacht, aiming to attract a smaller number of people with more spending power. Famed hotelier André Balazs announced plans to transform iconic properties like Chateau Marmont into private clubs.

  • With large groups still widely discouraged, many couples are planning micro-weddings, or even “planned elopements.” HOTELS reported how properties are accommodating for this trend, which has gained momentum in recent months. Sites like Martha Stewart WeddingsBrides and Betches have published how-to planning guides.

  • Digiday declared this past month “the second wave of media layoffs.” Publications like Vox, BBC, Guardian News & Media and McClatchy are now experiencing big staffing changes. Print is on the decline at Hearst Magazines. In addition to O, The Oprah Magazine ceasing regular print editions after December 2020, updates for 2020 publishing include:

    • Marie Claire is publishing seven issues down from 11 in 2019
    • Esquire is down to six issues from eight in 2019
    • Harper’s Bazaar is down to nine issues from 10 in 2019
    • Cosmopolitan, Elle and Good Housekeeping are down to 10 from 12 issues in 2019