Market Research

Phocuswright is the Recognized Expert in Tourism Market Research

Consumer spending endured a tremendous amount of strain in 2009, and travel suf­fered severely along with most large industries. According to Phocuswright’s U.S. Online Travel Overview Ninth Edition, market research shows that total gross bookings fell by 16%. As travel companies eagerly transition from recession to recovery in 2010, understanding consumer behavior will be critical preparation for a year of mixed expectations. How different is the consumer travel outlook in 2010? Which travelers dropped out in 2009 and which segments rep­resent the greatest opportunity? How do indi­vidual attitudes and opinions shape what and where consumers book?


The objective of Phocuswright’s Consumer Travel Report Second Edition (CTR 2) is to provide an overview of the status of consumer travel in the U.S. and insights into key indi­cators for the upcoming year. This report explores a range of topics, including general travel behavior, channel usage and psycho­graphics. It also analyzes differences between key consumer segments and contextualizes consumer indicators with broader travel indus­try trends.


Today’s youngest travelers learned some tough lessons in 2009. Many of them jumped into the year quite unaware of how bad it could get and overconfident about what was in store. After swallowing a healthy slice of humble pie, these travelers came out of 2009 with much tighter purse strings. Rather than spending more on vacations in 2009, as they thought they would, they spent less – way less. Travelers under the age of 35 spent $848 less on travel in 2009 versus 2008, compared to a lesser decline of $280 for older travelers.


Despite having the steepest decline in travel expenditure from 2008 to 2009, young travelers were still an extremely important target segment for travel companies. The key reason? Incidence. Despite the fact that young travelers spent so much less, they were still much more likely than older consumers to travel (70% versus 58%). When combining incidence metrics with expen­diture during our market research, the generational trends look very differ­ent than those observed by expenditure alone. The decline from year to year is still steep for Generation Y, but its older members (25-34 year olds) still spent well over the average, ranking sec­ond to 35-44 year olds by a small margin.