Are Vacationers Dreaming or Planning? Sales of Travel Books Take Off

BY Courtney Huckabay

According to global information provider The NPD Group, through the end of July 2017, print travel books have experienced 2 percent growth in unit sales, and an overall compound annual growth rate of 1 percent from 2014 to 2016 in the U.S. This is a notable turnaround after a steep 44 percent decline from 2010–2014, and proof that readers are returning to print guidebooks even in the digital age.

Six out of 10 of the top designated market areas in the U.S. are showing year-​to-​date growth in Travel Guides, with exceptional sales growth in Tampa, FL, Detroit, Phoenix, AZ, Minneapolis, and Sacramento, CA. The DMA index shows that there is a much greater interest for travel books on the West Coast and Pacific Northwest, especially in higher income areas.

The new AudienceSCAN survey revealed 48.9% of U.S. adults are planning to take vacations inside the U.S. in the next 12 months. Surely, the destinations mentioned in these top-​selling books are the new hot spots for travel!

Year-​to-​date travel guide sales also show a change in consumer interest for regions outside of the U.S., with notable growth in books on Scandinavia, South Africa, and Canada. Regions in decline include France, Western Europe, Turkey, and Central America. There are also changes in areas of interest in the United States, with sales of books about the Pacific West and Western Mountains increasing, while those about New England and the South declining.

Reading about far-​flung locales just might be the inspiration travelers need to head to their agent and book a trip. The new AudienceSCAN survey showed 8% of Domestic Vacationers intend to pay for travel planning services in the next 12 months.

Sales of travel books in the best-​selling destinations are up, likely because they share a certain sense of romance, aspiration, and adventure without being politically or historically charged in any way at the current time,” said Kristen McLean, industry analyst for NPD Books.

The travel industry can reach these dreamy readers through daily deals and email. The new AudienceSCAN study revealed 29% of Domestic Vacationers took action after receiving emailed ads/​newsletters in the past month, and 50% took action after seeing daily deals in the past year.

Eighty-​six of the top 100 markets have been showing strong and sustained growth in Special Interest Travel books, in categories including memoirs, essays, photographic travel books, and how-​to guides on a wide range of specialties including adventure travel, travelling with families and pets, and LGBT travel. “These books fit into a certain escapist pleasure category, as people seek to be transported to new and interesting places via the pages of a book,” said McLean.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.