The economy may be straining household budgets, but there is still a group of consumers determined to travel. While these travelers are becoming ‘resourceful’ in planning their trips, marketers can connect with them and tap their loyalty through several media channels. For the most part, the definition of value is not linked to price, a trend that is good news for travel operators.

The 2011 Portrait of American Travelers (SM) from Ypartnership/Harrison Group paints a picture of consumers with a passion about travel that is second only to family. These consumers are using online tools more than ever to find their destinations and make their plans on their own.  Their budgets might not be as large as they have been in the past so travel operators in the local market might find new opportunity by promoting their services to a more narrow geographic region. For example, 30% of leisure travelers are taking at least one overnight trip that is no more than 50 miles from home. This is an increase from the 26% who did so last year.

Consumers frequently take leisure trips to celebrate major milestones. In the past year, 70% of have taken trips to observe special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries. At the same time, marketers should know that 64% of travelers are willing to pay the full price to a travel provider but they expect a certain level of quality and service in return. These special occasion celebrations may represent the perfect time for a travel operator to charge full price, deliver excellence and begin a long-term customer relationship.

Travel operators should also know that not everyone plans in advance for leisure trips. About 30% of leisure travelers have arranged a last-minute vacation (defined as 6 days in advance). These travelers are also open to last minute deals. About 20% responded to a flash-sale for a travel service in the past year.

When travelers are searching for options online, they are most interested in knowing the best possible prices (84%) and the lowest price guarantee (82%). In addition, these consumers are not tethered to their desktop PCs. To keep track of opportunities, 28% have downloaded a smartphone app.

Travel service providers who understand these key details about the leisure market can adjust their promotions to appeal to a large consumer group and increase revenue.

[Source: New Survey Reveals Resourcefulness of American Travelers. Ypartnership.com. 11 Aug. 2011. Web. 7 Oct. 2011]