Travel marketers may be ramping up their promotions as the holiday season approaches. Consumers belonging to one specific demographic group, the affluent, are more interested in travel and experiences than traditional gifts. These consumers are also planning to travel more during the upcoming season to visit family members.

The new Survey of Affluence and Wealth in America, produced by Harrison Group and American Express Publishing, focuses on consumers who have household income of at least $100,000. While many people in this group are concerned about the ongoing economic crisis, 84% say they want to have a good holiday season with their family. Dr. Jim Taylor, vice president of Harrison Group, says, “After four plus years of reprioritizing and realigning their spending to match their values, affluent consumers are feeling quite good about themselves and their ability to maintain — and even increase — their family’s happiness and well-being.”

The survey revealed that about 30% of these consumers are planning holiday travel as a gift to their families. In addition, 20% are hoping that the holiday gift they receive this year is for travel. These consumers also say that eating out at a restaurant counts as an experience and 13% would like to get a gift certificate to a restaurant.

While over half of consumers in this group plan to buy fewer gifts this year, they say that this reduction isn’t necessarily about the economy. For many, the holidays are becoming more about being with friends and family. This changing attitude is an opportunity for marketers to position themselves as providers of experiences. For example, 22% of affluent married women are hoping for a gift certificate to a spa treatment this year.

This season, marketers may want to focus on the affluents who have household incomes exceeding $250,000. These consumers plan to increase holiday spending on gifts by 7% over last year. That’s an average of $2,708 spent on presents and gift cards.

[Source: Shillinglaw, James. Survey of Affluent Finds One in Three Planning to Take Holiday Trips. Travelpulse.com. 5 Oct. 2011. Web. 20 Oct. 2011]