There seems to be no end to the politicization and debating in the U.S. over whether governments, organizations and private businesses should implement mask mandates or require proof of vaccination against Covid-19.
Political perspectives aside, every business owner has to make difficult decisions around these policies. You have to weigh the interests of your business, your personal point of view, the perspectives of your staff, and of course what your customers want.
When faced with difficult decisions such as this, we always look first to data. In June and July Arival conducted a survey of 1,000 U.S. travelers who are traveling or planning to travel over the next 12 months. We asked them how different health and safety policies would affect their decision to visit an attraction or take a tour or activity. Here’s what they said:
Most Travelers Don’t Mind Mandates
Most travelers are not only comfortable with a mask mandate but seem to prefer it. Just over half of attraction visitors and 57% of tour takers said they would be more likely to visit an attraction or book a tour if there were mask mandates in place. Meanwhile, just one in five tour takers and 17% of attraction visitors said they would be less likely to do one of those things if they had to wear a mask.
Younger Travelers, Families More Open to Mandates
Younger travelers are much more likely to accept mask requirements: 58% of travelers 18–34 and 64% of travelers 35–54 said they were more likely to visit an attraction that requires masks. The higher likelihood for travelers 35–54 reflects increased safety concerns among adults traveling with children. The likelihood is similar or slightly higher for tour takers.
Older travelers are much more likely to be neutral. Half said mask mandates would not affect their decision to visit an attraction. However, a higher percentage of travelers 55 or older (24%) said they would be less likely to do so if there were a mandate. The resistance to mask wearing is somewhat higher — 32% — for tour takers 55 or older.
What Does This Data Mean for Your Business?
It can be difficult to look at national data and apply it to your business in your local market, especially if the trends you are seeing may be different from what we are sharing here. Here are four recommendations to consider:
- This data is national. Your decision is local. These statistics reflect attitudes among a representative sample of all U.S. travelers. However, the circumstances in your local market may be different. If your destination has mandates in place from local authorities, then the decision may be made for you. New York City and San Francisco have already announced plans to require proof of vaccination for some types of businesses and indoor settings.
- Everyone will never agree. Although this data says that a majority of travelers prefer a stronger approach to safety, there is a meaningful minority that do not. You need to make the best decision for your business and community, and those decisions — whether you lean in or ease off of some policies — may deter some potential customers from booking with you.
- Not every tour, activity and attraction is the same. The considerations for different types of tours and attractions will vary significantly. If your experiences are primarily outdoors and serve smaller groups, then you, your staff and guests may be perfectly fine without mandates. If you operate a larger indoor experience with larger groups or visitor traffic and are currently in a high-transmission area for Covid, a mask requirement may be the right approach. Disney has reinstated its mask mandate for its indoor attractions and spaces.
- Know your customers. There are notable differences in traveler attitudes by region, age and other factors. Data from national surveys like ours are a great starting point, but you know your customers best. Ask them. There are plenty of easy online tools, such as Jotform or Typeform, to conduct simple guest surveys.
Things change quickly. You should be prepared to as well. The one constant through this pandemic has been the change. The course of the pandemic and its impact on the economy has continued to defy our best plans and expectations. Watch developments closely, and be prepared to adjust your approach as the situation warrants.