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61% of Travelers Would Rather Stop at a Restaurant than a Rest Stop

by | 3 minute read

With the beginning of summer right around the corner and vacation season quickly approaching, many consumers are gearing up for a long road trip with family or friends. And while some travelers prefer to stop at a highway rest area when they need a break, the latest poll from PEMCO Insurance found that a majority of drivers who travel long distances would prefer to stop at retail locations instead.

The PEMCO Northwest Poll found that while one-third of respondents (33%) said they prefer to stop at a rest area when they’re on the road, a majority (61%) said they’d rather take a break at restaurants, gas stations or coffee shops.

The poll also found that 10% of those who travel long distances by car said they never stop at rest areas. Of those who always skip rest stops, nearly half (48%) said they prefer stopping somewhere they can get a snack or a drink, and more than two-thirds worry about the safety or cleanliness of state-run public rest areas (69%).

Even if it’s not their first choice, about nine out of ten drivers (89%) said they still visit rest areas at least occasionally. Among the top reasons for stopping were because of the convenience of restroom facilities (79%) or their accessible locations (52%).

According to AudienceSCAN, the typical Domestic Vacationer is married (58.8%) with no kids living at home (58.4%). About 60.1% are under the age of 55, and they’re 55% more likely than other adults to want to travel across the U.S.

The Pemco results also show that older folks are more likely than their younger counterparts to stop at a rest area, as about 44% of those 55 years of age or older prefer pulling over at a rest stop, compared to just 28% of respondents under 55.

Domestic Vacationers plan to go to a wide variety of destinations this year. According to AudienceSCAN, 45.2% are headed to the beach, 31.9% have their eyes set on a state or national park, 29.3% are on their way to a concert and 28.2% would like to go to a museum. They’re also 38% more likely than other adults to want to plan a trip to an amusement or theme park.

And despite rising gas prices and ongoing traffic woes, the total number of people who plan to go on a road trip appears to be on the rise. A recent study by AAA found that more than a third of Americans planned on taking a vacation in 2017, and of those, about 80% planned to go on a road trip, up about 10% from the year before.

Non-traditional potential rest stop locations can advertise themselves as a great place for vacationers to take a break via the TV. Last year, according to AudienceSCAN, 62.8% of Domestic Vacationers took action after seeing a TV commercial. Another way to keep a brand in travelers’ minds is to send them ads or coupons in the mail, as another 59.8% took action after receiving them last year. They can also be targeted while looking up a good place to take a break. Half of these consumers reacted to a sponsored search result last year.

AudienceSCAN data is available for your applications and dashboards through the SalesFuel API. Media companies and agencies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.

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Rachel Cagle

Rachel Cagle

Rachel is a Research Analyst, specializing in audience intelligence, at SalesFuel. She also helps to maintain the major accounts and co-op intelligence databases. As the holder of a Bachelors degree in English from The Ohio State University, Rachel helps the rest of the SalesFuel team with their writing needs.