August 17, 2011

Survey reveals key leisure travel trends


Make today matter: that's the mantra of today's resourceful and increasingly experiential travelers, according to the newly released study by Ypartnership/Harrison Group.

This national survey of just over 2,500 adults tracks the emerging travel habits, preferences and intentions of American leisure travelers and provides valuable insights into the motivations that guide their planning and purchasing behavior.

At the core of this year's findings is the sustained sense of "new resourcefulness" embraced by travelers, a response to Americans' unwavering commitment to travel despite persistent economic concerns. Americans treasure their leisure and vacation time - citing travel as their number two passion behind family, the survey found. These travelers are also savvier and more self-reliant since the arrival of the Great Recession, however. Also enabled by the continued growth of the Internet, they are more determined than ever to obtain the most value from their travel purchases - though their definition of this is no longer based on price alone.

What does this mean for the year ahead in the travel industry? The 2011 Portrait of American Travelers(SM) reveals the following key trends:

THE YEAR AHEAD

- More than three-quarters of U.S. consumers (77 percent) agree they "have become a much smarter shopper thanks to today's economic situation;"

- Among leisure travelers who have used the Internet to obtain travel information or to make a reservation, more than eight in ten say the most desirable features in a travel-service supplier website are the ability to check the lowest fares/rates (84 percent) and the lowest price/rate guarantee (82 percent);

- Fully three in ten (30 percent) leisure travelers took a "staycation" - an overnight trip within a 50-mile drive radius of their home - as an alternative to a vacation requiring a greater travel distance within the past 12 months, a significant increase from 26 percent taking such a trip in 2010;

- Nearly two in three travelers (64 percent) say they are willing to pay full price if they are guaranteed the quality and service they believe they deserve;

- Experience-based travel involving family and friends rules: the leading types of leisure trips remain visiting friends and relatives (50 percent) and family vacations (42 percent);

- Roughly one-half of leisure travelers (44 percent) have participated in outdoor activities such as a beach/lake trip, camping/hiking/climbing, snow skiing/boarding, fishing, golf, adventure/outfitting or hunting on a vacation during the previous year;

- Fully seven in ten leisure travelers (70 percent) have taken a "celebration vacation" in the past 12 months, coincidental with the recognition of a significant "life event" such as milestone birthday or anniversary;

- Nearly one-third of leisure travelers (30 percent) have taken a last-minute leisure trip (booked, on average, six days prior to departure) during the past 12 months;

- Two in ten (20 percent) leisure travelers purchased a travel service as a result of a flash sale - a time-sensitive offer delivered through an unexpected email from a travel-service supplier;

- The Caribbean (34 percent), Europe (33 percent) and Mexico (26 percent) remain the top international destinations visited by American travelers during the past two years;

- The percentage of travelers who have downloaded a smartphone travel app jumped from 19 percent last year to 28 percent in 2011;

- The majority of leisure travelers belong to one or more frequent-flyer (68 percent) or frequent-guest programs (57 percent);

- Roughly two in ten active leisure travelers (18 percent) utilized the services of a traditional travel agent in the past 12 months, and younger travelers (Millennials) are slightly more likely to book through a travel agent than their older counterparts;

- Social media are gaining credibility as a trusted information source: among those who have visited an online community, travel forum or blog to seek and/or review information about a destination or service provider, three out of five leisure travelers (61 percent) visited TripAdvisor prior to booking a hotel reservation, while one in five (18 percent) visited YouTube in the past 12 months;

- One-third of travelers (33 percent) have visited an online community, travel forum or blog to seek and/or review information about a destination or travel-service supplier during the past 12 months.

The Ypartnership/Harrison Group 2011 Portrait of American Travelers(SM) is a national survey of 2,539 U.S. households that was conducted in March 2011. The results provide an in-depth examination of the impact of the current economic environment, social values and media practices on the travel habits of Americans with an annual household income of $50,000 or more who have taken at least one leisure trip of 75 miles or more from home requiring overnight accommodations during the previous 12 months.

Related Link: Ypartnership

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