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.
While cost is a major factor for both business and leisure travelers when booking their trips, site navigability and functionality are a close second to price. Even if the price is right, users will balk at Website problems or abandon their purchase if they have trouble navigating and dealing with the checkout process. In addition, travel bookers – particularly business travelers – may not return to sites they have encountered problems with to make future plans.
According to a new study by PetRelocation.com, most pet owners travel at least once a year with their pets. The Summer Pet Travel Survey found that 57% of respondents plan to travel with their pet within the next 3 months, while 33% plans on traveling with their pet within the next year. As summer travel plans heat up, retailers and businesses that cater to travelers should take note of pet owners’ preference to travel with their pets and offer services to accommodate them accordingly.
After years of ‘staycations’ and camping out at the local state park, are consumers ready to spend more on travel in 2010? eMarketer notes that the slowdown in travel caused online travel sales to drop to $88.4 billion in 2009. But all that should change this year.
While travel spending in the U.S. saw a decline of 9% in 2009, Mintel expects to see more people taking off in the new decade with a 6% increase in travel spending expected for 2010. “In the coming years, the travel industry needs to pay attention to how the economic downturn is affecting this market,” said Mark Guarino, senior analyst at Mintel. “The growth will be slow and will mainly stem from reduced prices on hotels, rental cars and airlines, all trying to get hesitant consumers to travel again.”
Bing Travel recently issued its 2010 Spring Break Forecast, which reveals a 9% increase in spring break airfare over 2009, coupled with a 15% decrease in domestic hotel rates. Although domestic airfare is higher this year, domestic hotel rates continue to drop for popular spring travel destinations such as Las Vegas; Maui, Hawaii; and Orlando, Fla., and reveal an average decline of 15% over 2009. To make the most of their travel budgets, consumers should choose destinations, travel dates and hotels that have decreased rates and could bring down the cost of the total trip.
With the state of the current economy, it may be no surprise that when Americans are asked to look ahead to their vacation, airline ticket, and hotel spending for 2010, they are at least slightly more likely to say they will be spending less than they spent in 2009 rather than more. However, consumer attitudes about their overall travel spending in 2010 may differ from how they ultimately behave. Indeed, the latest government report on travel and tourism reports a significant rebound in U.S. travel spending in the third quarter of 2009 compared to the same period a year ago, reflecting increases in both business and leisure travel. This coincides with an increase in the U.S. gross domestic product more generally and is likely to extend through the fourth quarter. If so, the current data may simply, but importantly, indicate that Americans remain vigilant about their spending and therefore that airlines, hotels, and resorts will have to continue pushing major discounts and package deals in order to attract consumers’ travel dollars.
As travelers have more access to information, they may be apt to demand more from travel agents. They may also be tempted to expand their travel to more adventurous destinations. These were key findings in the most recent survey from Amadeus. The research concern also predicted an increase in international travel for both business and pleasure as the economy becomes more globalized.
As travelers focus on value, vacation rentals are attracting many first-time renters who are looking for greater value from their travel dollar. According to new data from HomeAway Inc., 87% of travelers who looked into a vacation rental in the past say they plan to stay in a vacation rental in 2010 – a significant increase from the 67% who stayed or plan on staying in a vacation rental in 2009. Industry analysts expect this trend to continue even as the economy improves, as there has been a significant shift toward value in the overall consumer mindset.
More than three-quarters of traveling pet owners would take Fido or Fifi on every vacation if they could, although more than half report difficulty finding pet-friendly accommodations, according to a recent survey commissioned by AAA and Best Western International. Many hotel operators have discovered the popularity of traveling with pets and are making special efforts to accommodate four-footed friends. The most popular pet-inclusive vacations are visiting friends/family (73%) and road trips (56%).
According to a new survey from American Express, 30% of U.S. consumers plan to adjust this year’s travel plans for Thanksgiving — historically one of the busiest travel days of the year — but only 21% expect those expenses to decrease compared to last year. Respondents whose plans are changing said they’ll rely more on automobile travel, stay for a shorter time and cash-in rewards to help pay for holiday trips. The most significant changes are from the young professionals — 37% said they’ve adjusted their plans versus the affluent and general population (both 30%).
Today’s consumers are accustomed to using multiple sources for travel research. But increasingly, they are turning to Web sites for up-to-date information. Frommer’s recently surveyed consumers to determine which factors are most important to them on Web sites and what problems might turn them away or to the competition.