Fifty-six percent of Americans expect to spend more or the same this year as they did in 2011 according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. Consumers say they expect to spend more on in-home decorating, travel, remodeling/home improvements and health & fitness. Over a third (35%) say they are optimistic about their finances and most have set benchmarks to help meet their 2012 financial goals (87% vs. 83% in 2011).
The typical hotel focuses on two segments of the travel industry: business and pleasure. The corporate travel budget has recovered somewhat since the recession ended, but hotel operators are using new tactics to get more from business travelers. This includes introducing a suite of services designed to assist the business traveler.
Recently, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) reported that business travel will grow 4.3% in 2012 and reach $260.9 billion. The U.S. Travel Association is expecting a slightly smaller increase of about 3.3% which they attribute to general anxiety over the economy and the upcoming election. But, both of these forecasts are good news for the lodging industry which is recovering from a steep slide that took place during the recovery. In addition, lodging operators are expected to employ the latest marketing techniques to get ahead of the competition.
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 summer travel season may be winding down but consumers are already making plans for the busy holiday season and into January of next year. Much of today’s leisure travel is planned through online resources, either from a consumer’s home computer or at work. And these online consumers are exhibiting distinct preferences by age group which travel providers should consider as they seek to target potential customers.
AAA forecasts 31.5 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Labor Day holiday weekend, a slight decrease from 2010. Automobile travel will remain the dominant mode of holiday transportation. Median spending is expected to be $702, largely unchanged from $697 last year. Interestingly, 71% of intended Labor Day holiday travelers said gasoline prices would not impact their travel plans.
Smart device apps and mobile-optimized websites are changing the way people travel, from trip planning to boarding an airplane to how they experience destinations. According to new research by eMarketer, an estimated 25 million U.S. mobile users will research travel information on their mobile devices before making a trip in 2011, and nearly 12 million will use the mobile channel to book their plans. The emerging mobile trend represents new opportunities for marketers to connect with consumers before, during and after their trips. “An integrated, comprehensive approach will serve brands best,” said Noah Elkin, eMarketer principal analyst and author of the new report. “The more flexibly brands can offer to help their customers manage their travel…the more effective they will be.”
More moms are comfortable about taking time off work for family vacation this year, but they’re still watching their purse strings, according to a national survey. Almost two-thirds (64%) of the employed moms are optimistic about taking all of their paid vacation days, up from only 57% in 2010. Just as last year, however, most plan to pay for vacations out of current resources instead of using credit. Almost half of the moms in all three generations plan to purchase vacation with monthly savings (44% of baby boomers and Gen X, 46% of Gen Y), followed by tax refunds (28% for Gen Y and X and 11% for boomers). Summer remains the preferred travel season (61% for this year, 57% last year), but spring is growing (32% this year versus 24% in 2010).
According to Travelocity’s annual “Traveler Confidence Report,” a majority (89%) will spend as much or more on travel in 2011 as they did in 2010. The survey of more than 1,400 Americans also found 95% of respondents will travel as much or more in 2011. Though travelers are planning to spend more, they’re also planning to spend more carefully. Sixty percent of respondents claimed to have a predetermined travel budget for 2011, up from 44% in 2010. “Judging from the number of respondents who say they intend to both travel and spend more in the coming year, the travel industry could see continued growth in 2011,” said Hugh Jones, President & Chief Executive Officer, Travelocity Global.
After a long period of slow business travel, corporations may once again be ready to send their employees on the road. During the Great Recession, business travel dropped as much as 15.6%. Corporate travel had shown some signs of life earlier this year but the sector slowed when the economic recovery proved to be uneven. However, analysts at the National Business Travel Association (NBTA) are looking for a 3.9% overall increase in 2010.
AAA has projected the number of Americans traveling this Labor Day holiday weekend will increase 9.9% from 2009, with approximately 34.4 million travelers taking a trip at least 50 miles away from home. Last year, 31.3 million Americans traveled during the Labor Day holiday. The 2010 Labor Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, September 2 to Monday, September 6. Trips by automobile are expected to increase in popularity with 91% of travelers, or 31.4 million people, reaching their destination by driving. Median spending is expected to be $697 this Labor Day, nearly $50 more than last year when median spending was estimated at $650. Dining (63%); shopping (47%) and visiting with friends and relatives (43%) were named as the three top primary activities by travelers this Labor Day weekend.
Unemployment may still be high but consumers are growing restless. Whether it’s a traditional summer vacation or a fall getaway, more consumers might be inclined to travel this year. The chief reason behind this interest is the general confidence many consumers have about their personal financial situations. Fewer consumers cite personal credit card debt and the plunging value of investment portfolios as reasons to avoid traveling.