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Destination Unknown: How U.S. and European Travelers Decide Where to Go 2012

Published September 2012
Marcello Gasdia
Marcello Gasdia

Director, Consumer Research

Carroll Rheem
Carroll Rheem
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Destination Unknown: How U.S. and European Travelers Decide Where to Go 2012

With uncertainty lingering over many of the world’s economies, cautious consumers have reigned in their spending in 2012. While most consumers in the U.S. and Europe have avoided cutting leisure trips out altogether, many are cutting back, and travel patterns have shifted as travelers pare down their trips to match their skinny budgets. Understanding these tradeoffs is essential for tailoring strategies to match the mood – and the mood varies from one market to the next.

Phocuswright's Destination Unknown: How U.S. and European Travelers Decide Where to Go 2012 compares leisure travel behavior in the U.S., France, Germany and the U.K., revealing dramatic differences across markets. In addition to outlining key trends in general travel behavior, this report explores how the process of destination selection is evolving, tracking year-over-year shifts in the information sources, online features and websites used in destination selection.

Report topics include:

  • Overall consumer travel trends in each market, including travel incidence, spend and frequency
  • Destination selection patterns for domestic and international travelers (distinguishing between European travelers who travel within versus outside of Europe)
  • Analysis of travelers who independently selected a leisure travel destination in the past year, including travel spend and frequency
  • Timing of when travelers choose their destination and the specialized process that sets destination selection apart from other travel decisions
  • Motivators for selecting a travel destination and specific sources of influence
  • Information sources and websites used when choosing a destination
  • Discussion of the most influential types of social media and online features in each market

Purchase Destination Unknown: How U.S. and European Travelers Decide Where to Go 2012 to master market differences and understand how to influence the destination selection process.

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  • Overview, Methodology and Research Highlights
    • Overview
    • Methodology
    • Methodology for U.S. Survey and U.S. Traveler Population Projection
    • Methodology for European Survey and Traveler Population Projection
    • Research Highlights
      • Leisure travel incidence holds steady across the board, but the U.S. market is stronger
      • More U.S. travelers venture where they please, while more in Europe lean on friends and relatives
      • U.S. travelers stick with what they know
      • German travelers are destination-centric compared to others
      • Destination research trails shopping online, but not by much
      • Travelers in different markets prefer different online content
  • General Travel Behavior and Intentions
    • Lodging and Air Traveler Incidence
    • International Travel
  • The Destination Decision
    • Independent Destination Selection
    • Sources of Influence
    • Information Sources
    • Advance Booking Window
    • Influence of Online Features
    • Influence of Online Features

Phocuswright's Destination Unknown: How U.S. and European Travelers Decide Where to Go 2012 is based on separate online surveys of U.S. and European consumers, the full results of which are published in Phocuswright's U.S. Consumer Travel Report Fourth Edition (CTR 4) and Phocuswright's European Consumer Travel Report Third Edition (ECTR 3). The methodology for each survey is detailed below. As the studies were fielded at different times, the time period examined in the results is not exactly parallel. To simplify the terminology in this report, results from the two studies are referred to as "2012" results. However, these results reflect consumer behavior over a period that spans 2011 and 2012.

Note that U.K. spend is expressed in euros in both charts and text. Where relevant, when comparing U.S. and European spend, values are converted in parentheses in the report text only. The conversion rate is based on a 12-month average ending on January 1, 2012.