Research Insights Waiting to Exhale: Phocuswright Releases Key U.S. Traveler Insights

Waiting to Exhale: Phocuswright Releases Key U.S. Traveler Insights

July 2011
David Juman

Waiting to Exhale: Phocuswright Releases Key U.S. Traveler Insights

As the second half of 2011 gets underway, U.S. travelers may finally be getting their groove back, according to a new report from travel industry authority Phocuswright. After a tepid return to leisure travel in 2010, many consumers are eager to bid farewell to financial worries and get away for a well-deserved vacation. With traveler intentions predicting an uptick in both leisure trips and travel spend, 2011 should be yielding better results for travel companies across the spectrum.

According to Phocuswright's U.S. Consumer Travel Report Third Edition, 63% of U.S. adults with Internet access took a paid leisure trip in 2010, representing only a slight improvement over the prior year (61%). Yet the share of consumers traveling for leisure remained far below 2008 levels (71%). And although indicators of recovery were discernable across consumer metrics, the relief was meager. Average annual household travel expenditure edged up just 6% to $2,886, after dropping 11% in 2009.

"U.S. consumers loosened their wallets slightly in 2010, allowing a larger percentage of Americans to indulge in a well-deserved vacation," said Carroll Rheem, director, research at Phocuswright. "But the prevailing positivity was riddled with apprehension. The consumer psyche took a major hit, and a return to precession confidence levels won't happen overnight."

The U.S. leisure travel market, however, is clearly on an upswing, and travelers express a more optimistic outlook for 2011. Over twice as many travelers plan to take more trips (32%) than fewer trips (14%) in 2011, a significant improvement over traveler intentions for 2010. Budget intentions predict a further increase in travel spend, with 29% of travelers planning to spend more, compared to 24% the previous year. Yet 16% of U.S. travelers anticipate spending less in 2011, down only slightly from the 18% who had planned to spend less in 2010. While recovery will be substantially stronger in 2011, consumer intentions convey anxiety along with a healthy dose of replenished demand.

Phocuswright's Consumer Travel Report Third Edition provides a comprehensive view of the status of consumer travel in the U.S., helping travel companies adapt their operations for the ever-changing landscape of the consumer travel marketplace. This report reviews the dynamics that drove consumer travel behavior in 2010 and highlights key indicators for understanding trends in 2011. Based on an online survey of more than 2,500 U.S. consumers, the report examines travelers who play an active role in planning their leisure trips. In addition to tracking fundamental behaviors such as the incidence of travel, the report analyzes the influence of various media, typical booking methods and the motives behind consumer decisions.

Key topics include:
  • Overall travel incidence, trip frequency and duration
  • Travel spend and budget intentions for the coming year
  • In-depth analysis of lodging and air travel trends, and purchase incidence for car rental, cruise, rail, vacation packages and destination activities
  • Comparison of consumer behavior by phase: destination selection, shopping, purchasing and sharing
  • How U.S. travelers decide where to go
  • Information sources and online features that influence travel shopping decisions
  • Travel booking channels and purchase behavior

Phocuswright's Consumer Travel Report Third Edition, a Global Edition Research Subscription publication, combines crucial consumer metrics with sophisticated analysis to help travel companies capitalize on the consumer trends impacting their business.

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