London, Paris and Rome still Top Picks; Brazil and Santorini Emerge as Popular Destinations

NEW YORK--(May 2014)--American Express Travel recently surveyed a group of its experts – nearly 300 travel counselors – to get the scoop on what is trending with their customers for this upcoming summer season (travel between June 1 and August 31). Nearly half (45%) said their summer travel bookings, relative to their bookings from last year, have increased. This is despite the fact that 67% percent said the cost of travel is up when compared to 2013.

Travel counselors cited rising costs in key travel categories – airfare and hotel stays – as main reasons for the increase in the cost of summer travel. However, 35% indicated costs are up because customers are choosing to spend more on amenities such as excursions and other activities. When further asked about what is most important to travelers when booking summer travel, the findings show customers are prioritizing perks over price:

  • 33% said customers want added value such as upgrades
  • 26% responded the destination is most important to customers
  • 20% indicated budget as their customers' top consideration

"After one of the coldest and snowiest winters on record, it's no surprise people are itching to get away this summer," says Laura Fink, vice president of American Express Travel. "That long, cold winter has fostered a demand for travel where customers are placing a premium on perks and amenities to upgrade their trip experiences despite rising costs."

The survey also indicated the average duration of summer trips are 10 days. When asked what type of experience most customer are looking for, 43% responded relaxing experiences such as an all-inclusive beach vacation while another 34% said customers are looking to immerse themselves in the culture of the destination. Cruise vacations remain popular as well; nearly one third of the travel counselors surveyed said clients are booking cruises for the summer.

While the majority of travel counselors (81%) are planning vacations for clients and their immediate family, 35% report curating trips for multi-generational families and 29% are planning experiences for their clients traveling with friends or a significant other.

Summer Hotspots:

When looking at where customers are heading to this summer, based on bookings made at amextravel.com and through its travel counselors, most travelers will continue to flock toward popular destinations. The top ten include:

1. London

2. Paris

3. Rome

4. Orlando, FL

5. New York, NY

6. Kahului, HI

7. San Francisco, CA

8. Cancun

9. Los Angeles, CA

10. Honolulu, HI

Rising Destinations:

While cities like London and Orlando are longtime favorites, bookings at destinations with the greatest year-over-year growth indicate a more adventurous streak amongst this year's travelers. From a top sporting destination to national parks to an island retreat, the top growing summer destinations for 2014 include:

1-5. Brazil (Manaus, Recife, Salvador, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo)

6. Santorini

7. Hilton Head, SC

8. Grand Junction, CO

9. Milan

10. Bucharest

About the American Express Travel Survey Methodology

The American Express Travel survey was completed online with its U.S. travel counselors, including those from its U.S. Representative Agency Network – a total of 276 participated in the survey. The survey was conducted by Ebiquity between March 19 and 28, 2014. The results reported in this release have an overall margin of error of +/- 5.9 at the 95 percent level of confidence.

About American Express Travel

American Express entered the travel agency business in 1915 and today operates one of the largest travel networks in the world. American Express Travel provides expert advice to customers when planning and booking their travel, as well as in-trip support. Whether booking online or connecting with its network of knowledgeable travel counselors, American Express Travel allows customers to get the most out of their travel experiences. Card Members also have access to exclusive travel offers, benefits and rewards they need to Take Membership FurtherSM. To book travel and to learn more about travel and related services, please visit amextravel.com.

About American Express

American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at americanexpress.com.

Contact: Tracy Paurowski or Lou Hammond & Associates, Stacy Royal

tracy.j.paurowski@aexp.com or stacyr@lhammond.com / 212-640-8409 or 212-891-0218

About Ebiquity Plc

Ebiquity (www.ebiquity.com) is a global media, marketing, and reputation consultancy. Ebiquity are leaders in above- and below-line communications tracking and research, providing independent data-driven insights to marketing, corporate communications, and public relations professionals to continuously improve their clients' business performance. Ebiquity's Reputation & PR practice, formerly Echo Research, has a 25-year track record in marketing and communications research, providing high-quality research, maintaining strict control of the research process, creating tailored research reports, utilizing proprietary approaches and tools, and enjoying longevity of relationships with clients.

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