Tourism Market Research

Travel Trends


According to tourism market research, weakening economic conditions, shrinking options for credit and borrowing and future employment uncertainty have caused some online travelers to curtail traveling for leisure and business travel in 2007. The incidence of taking leisure and business trips declined from 95% to 92% and 44% to 41%, respectively.


Not only has the proportion of online travelers traveling for leisure declined, but so has their frequency of travel. Of those taking at least one leisure trip (of any length) in the past year, less than half (46%) are now taking three or more leisure trips. This measure has declined steadily since first reported in 2005, when frequent travelers accounted for 55% of all trips taken. The mean number of leisure trips (now 3.34 trips per year) has dipped and is symptomatic of the trade-offs online travelers began to make in 2007 in anticipation of uncertain economic times according to tourism market research.


Tourism Market Research


A similar shift is also occurring in business travel, as corporations have become more rigorous about limiting the number of traveling employee’s extraneous or unnecessary trips. As a result, infrequent travelers account for an increasing share of business trips taken, now at 59%.Because road warriors continue to transverse the globe more aggressively, the average number of business trips has increased to 6.93 in 2007.


Not all leisure trips are created equal, as 2007 reveals differences in travel patterns among online leisure travelers based on the duration of the trip. Long weekend trips (defined as a three-night stay away from home) were most notably impacted by the economy, as fewer online leisure travelers (81% vs. 84%) took these shorter jaunts in 2007. However, vacation travel (defined as one or more weeks away from home) gained in both the percentage taking these trips (92% vs.91%) and the number of trips taken (mean 2.14 trips vs. 1.78 trips).


This illustrates two phenomena. First, long weekend travel is increasingly dominated by the infrequent traveler – almost half took just one or two long weekend trips in the past year. Second, these travelers are making trade-offs and indicate that, in times of economic uncertainty, they will relinquish extraneous, shorter trips in order to preserve their ability to vacation and completely disengage from work.


The more frequent traveler is responsible for sustaining leisure travel in 2007 and preventing further declines. Frequent travelers are active long weekend and vacation travelers. Not only do they have an almost equal propensity to take a long weekend and vacation trip (91% vs. 95%), they take twice as many long weekend trips (4.99 compared to 2.47) as the infrequent traveler and significantly more vacations (2.58 vs. 1.74). Consequently, the frequent traveler is a coveted element of tourism market research and margins, particularly in this economy.