Travel is as popular as ever, with many UK According to the American Association of Travel Agents, around one quarter of consumers booked their most recent vacation through an agent – and over 60% of those said using one improves their travel experience. “While Gen Xers and Baby Boomers have driven travel sales in the past, there has been a sudden shift in the market,” said travel agency owner Jennifer Monroe. “We are now seeing far more bookings from the Millennial generation.” 2.7% of the US GDP is directly linked to tourism, and an estimated one in eighteen jobs have some reliance on the travel market. By 2025, tourism is expected to bring in $2.5 trillion for the US economy.
DIY travel is also still growing. The rise of services such as Airbnb, which allows any property or space to be offered as vacation accommodation, allows travelers to be more picky about where they go and what they do. Instead of the typical hotel package trip, travelers can customize their experience by booking each part separately. This could be why so many younger people, who like to have new experiences and adventures on vacation, are turning to agents who offer these custom travel services.
Those in the highest income brackets who prefer luxury trips are more likely to travel abroad frequently, with an average 4.8 overseas visits per year. Meanwhile, Americans spend an estimated $110.8 billion each year outside of the US, during business or leisure travel. However, the luxury travel sector, which typically accommodates around two thirds of executive business travel, has seen slowed growth in recent years. Consumer spending across all income levels, including the travel sector, has also slowed down due to economic uncertainty.
Many travel consumers are choosing domestic vacations as an alternative to an overseas trip. Safety is cited as a key reason for the rise of the staycation, and cost is a close second. Falling oil prices have lowered the cost of gas, so driving costs are down – and so are air fares. Memorial Day weekend estimates show that 38 million Americans traveled 50 miles or more that weekend. There was an average spend of $220 each for road travelers, while airplane users paid out $990 on average. Families on vacation are twice as likely to drive as they are to fly.
Some types of trip are more popular than others. A survey of travelers revealed 45% who were taking a beach holiday that year, and 42% who were having a city break instead. One fifth of the same group also revealed plans for a National Park trip, while 9% planned on taking a cruise. “Our clients are mixing things up with different kinds of breaks and vacations,” said online travel agency owner Rachael James. “Beach holidays remain popular, but families and solo travelers in particular want a different kind of experience.” Tourist attractions are still popular too, with 43% of travelers planning to visit a theme park in the next twelve months.
Wellness trips are a hit with travelers who are conscious about looking after their health. From yoga camps and healthy eating courses to detox centers, travelers from older and younger generations are both seeking something different when they travel. Many traditional hotels and leading cruise lines have started offering wellness-specific trips and packages to cater for this travel sector. Adventure and activity vacations are also very popular – gap year students and backpackers in particular like to arrange trips that are filled with new and different experiences.
Of course, travel consumers are not averse to picking up travel bargains. Price comparison websites like SkyScanner have become increasingly influential, as have review hubs such as TripAdvisor. Finding who offers the best deal is a key deciding factor when it comes to travel decisions. Previous experience of accommodation or a travel provider also influences travel decisions for US consumers. Discounts and deals, such as ‘kids go free’ offers for families and 2-for-1 deals on attraction entry, can affect the choice of destination for any traveler. Coupons for vacation discounts such as those found on Frugaa can also cut travel costs.
It seems likely that future travel consumers will continue to spend on vacations and trips, despite a slowed economy. Everybody still loves to take a break from the daily grind and a vacation is seen as a necessary cost to budget for by over 70% of US households. Families in particular will continue to drive travel spending, as will the steady reliance on the luxury travel sector by businesses and wealthy tourists. Services that allow customized travel itineraries continue to appeal to younger travelers, while the cruise market is an ever-popular hit with the older generation.