Outbound Tourism

Outbound Tourism Effected by Economic Factors

In 2009, travelers in the U.S. and Europe responded to the global recession by slowing down outbound tourism – and spending less when they did travel. U.S. total gross bookings declined 16%, with European bookings down 10%, according to Phocuswright reports. With the total travel pie smaller and travelers keen to get the most out of their lei­sure trips, destination marketers have to work harder to attract visitors.


For most destination marketing organizations (DMOs), the travel slump brought with it a smaller budget. With fewer resources and a mandate to maintain strong visitation num­bers, it’s crucial to make every bit of budget count. By understanding traveler behavior, destination marketers can home in on the trav­elers whom they have the greatest potential to influence – and implement the most effective strategies for connecting with them.



Strategic Thinking on Outbound Tourism



Many destinations are tasked with attract­ing both domestic and international travelers. This report compares and contrasts consumer behavior among U.S. and European outbound tourism, focusing on three major European markets – France, Germany, and the U.K. Analyzing these markets in tandem makes it possible to highlight characteristics unique to each market, while identifying trends common to all three, especially where outbound tourism and DMO's are concerned.


Phocuswright’s Destination Unknown: How U.S. and European Travelers Decide Where to Go provides context for understanding leisure travel behavior in the studied markets and an in-depth analysis of the travel segment most relevant to destination marketers: independent destination selectors, i.e., travelers who have selected at least one of their leisure travel des­tinations in the past year. The report provides insight into the destination selection process and the factors influencing destination selec­tion, including key motivators, psychographics, information sources, online features, and web­sites used in destination selection.


Understanding traveler behavior in relation to destination selection makes it possible to allocate marketing spend optimally, improve return on investment, craft traveler messag­ing, and ultimately, increase visitation. Traveler perceptions of individual destinations develop over time and are subject to a broad range of influences. Destination marketers should be working to educate and influence prospective travelers via a range of touchpoints, both direct and indirect. The objective of this report is to provide insights that can help marketers turn travelers into visitors (and repeat visitors).


Lodging is a key sector for DMOs, many of which draw revenue from a lodging tax. Ninety-one percent of both U.S. and U.K. travelers, 90% of German travelers, and 88% of French travelers reported staying in paid lodging in the past 12 months. Travelers in all four markets were most likely to have pur­chased both lodging and air. U.K. travelers had the highest incidence (66%), while the U.S. (46%) and France (46%) tied for the lowest. American and French travelers were more like­ly to purchase lodging exclusively, indicating a higher propensity to travel by car or, in France, by rail. The U.K., as an island nation, had the highest incidence of outbound tourism by air travel (71%).