Neither Feast Nor Famine for U.S. Leisure Travelers

Published April 2013 Analyst: Douglas Quinby


Neither Feast Nor Famine for U.S. Leisure Travelers

Consumer spending may be on the rise, but when it comes to leisure travel, many Americans are still feeling frugal. According to a new Phocuswright report, overall leisure travel incidence remained flat in the past year, and many of the U.S. adults who did manage to vacation took fewer and shorter trips. But while the average traveler may still not be feeling confident enough to splurge, there are signs that some vacationers are tentatively loosening the purse strings.

According to Phocuswright's U.S. Consumer Travel Report Fifth Edition, six in ten U.S. adults traveled for leisure in 2012, roughly even with the previous year. Travelers on average took 2.8 leisure trips, down slightly, and some travelers economized by shortening medium-length trips (4-6 nights) into quick weekend getaways. Not surprisingly, taking fewer and shorter trips also meant that travelers spent less – average annual travel spend dropped roughly $230 year over year.

"Fewer trips may create the impression that consumer confidence has fallen, but many were simply making some small sacrifices to leave room in their budget for the big annual vacation," said Carroll Rheem, principal analyst. "While travelers aren't exactly feeling footloose and fancy free, they are developing a bit of tolerance for the seemingly endless string of mixed economic messages."

While the basic travel metrics fell flat, there are some signs that leisure travel is on the upswing. Many hotel guests, for example, felt comfortable enough to move up-market this past year. Incidence of spending at least one night at a budget hotel/motel dropped slightly, and significantly fewer travelers stayed with friends or family.

For insight into the leisure travel outlook for 2013, purchase Phocuswright's U.S. Consumer Travel Report Fifth Edition. The report provides a comprehensive view of U.S. leisure travel trends, including the factors that drove consumer travel behavior in 2012 and fundamental indicators for understanding trends in the coming year. Based on an online survey of more than 2,500 U.S. consumers who play an active role in planning their leisure trips, the report tracks and analyzes a range of travel-related behavior.

Key topics include:

  • General traveler behavior, including incidence of travel, trip frequency and duration, travel party composition and travel spend
  • Travel component purchase incidence, with detailed analysis of air and lodging spend, and types of accommodations used
  • Websites used in various stages of online travel planning – destination selection, shopping, purchasing and sharing
  • Trip motivation and information sources used in destination research
  • Traveler shopping behavior, including types of websites used, online and offline sources of information, and online features used during travel shopping
  • Most popular travel purchasing channels, online versus offline purchasing, and typical purchase methods by age and travel segment
Purchase Phocuswright's U.S. Consumer Travel Report Fifth Edition to understand and leverage the key trends that are driving the behavior of today's travelers.

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