Many Would-Be Travelers Stuck At Home

Published May 2012 Analyst: Marcello Gasdia


Many Would-Be Travelers Stuck At Home

Improved confidence among U.S. consumers has started to breathe some life back into the travel industry. But while hotel and air suppliers continue to benefit from the uplift in morale, a new Global Edition study from Phocuswright reveals that many still are not spending. Nearly four in 10 (38%) did not purchase a single leisure vacation within the past year. In fact, the entire traveler pool remained stagnant at 62% of all U.S. adults – well under pre-recession levels, when over 70% traveled for leisure. U.S. economic recovery is certainly happening – just not for everyone.

These findings suggest that travel industry growth is being curbed by disparity within the consumer population; some worked back up to taking extravagant vacations while others still struggle to fit travel back in their budgets. According to Phocuswright's U.S. Consumer Travel Report Fourth Edition, early boomers (ages 45-54) are having an especially hard time. Their travel consumption took a turn for the worse over the past year as vacation dreams succumbed to the reality of college tuition, supporting elderly family members, retirement planning and a looming debt crisis. Incidence of travel within this group fell by 3% to 60%, and average trip expenditure among those who traveled dropped by over 10%.

"While it's encouraging to hear travel companies talk about breaking records rather than recuperating from recessionary setbacks, our research demonstrates how the recovery has left a significant portion of people behind," says Carroll Rheem, senior director, research at Phocuswright. "The dream of taking a well-deserved vacation has remained a fantasy for many would-be travelers. We expect to see improved results across the spectrum in 2012, but there is no doubt that value-consciousness will trump indulgence in many travel purchase decisions this year."

Phocuswright's U.S. Consumer Travel Report Fourth Edition explores the present condition of the U.S. consumer travel market. Based on a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. travelers, it exposes and explains key trends in leisure travel, including overall travel incidence, travel expenditure, trip frequency and duration, types of trips, consumption of travel products and more. The study draws upon three years of longitudinal data, along with an analysis of travelers' intentions for the upcoming year, to provide a comprehensive picture of the current health and future direction of leisure travel.

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 influence of various types of online content
  • Most popular travel purchasing channels, online versus offline purchasing, and typical purchase methods by age and travel segment
With a combination of advanced metrics and discerning analysis, Phocuswright's U.S. Consumer Travel Report Fourth Edition helps travel companies understand and leverage the key trends that are driving the behavior of today's travelers.