News for the Hospitality Executive
FRANCISCO—(February 7, 2006) — Destination Analysts released the findings
from its bi-annual "State of the American Traveler" study today.
The wide-ranging survey queried 1,022 adult Americans about their use of
technology in travel planning, while creating an in-depth map of their
varied travel habits and opinions. The survey shows how much ballyhooed
user-generated content is reaching a critical mass in the travel realm,
while other Web 2.0 technologies (RSS Feeds and podcasts) are just gaining
Web-Savvy Travelers Help Web 2.0 Technologies Gain Ground
According to the survey, leisure travelers already use the Internet extensively to plan how they travel, what they do while traveling, where they stay and eat, and the destinations they will visit. In the past 12 months, over half of leisure travelers (53.3%) say they have selected a specific hotel based on information gathered online. Similarly, 38.2% said they had actually selected a destination to visit and 27.4% had decided how long to stay in a destination based on information found online.
Thus new Internet technologies are ascending in the travel space. According to Erin Francis, Managing Partner at Destination Analysts, “Some Web 2.0 technologies, specifically user-generated content, have finally arrived in travel. For example, about one-third (31.0%) of leisure travelers told us that they have used reviews of hotels posted by their fellow travelers to plan their trips in the past year.” Another key finding is that travelers are referring to user-generated content even to decide where to go: almost 26% said that they have used user-generated reviews to select a specific travel destination. However, some newer technologies appear to be just gaining a foothold in the travel realm. In the past year, 13.1% of leisure travelers have used online video resources to help plan a trip, 6.8% have used audio files such as podcasts and only 3.0% have used RSS feeds. “With the omnipresence of the Internet in travel, we expect these numbers to grow in our mid-year survey,” said Francis.
Continued Industry Growth Expected Despite High Gas Prices and Frustration with Airport Security
Online travel content and booking providers can anticipate increased activity in the next year: the survey also shows that domestic leisure travel is poised for continued growth. The number of leisure trips taken by the typical American traveler in the past 12 months was 5.7, with 41% of American travelers saying they expect to travel more for leisure in the next year, while only 7.3% expect to travel less. When this survey was conducted in July of 2006, only 33% of Americans expected to take more leisure trips in the upcoming year. More good news for the industry is that 42% of these travelers say they expect to increase their personal spending on leisure travel in the coming year.
When asked what factors kept them from traveling more for leisure in the past 12 months than they would have otherwise preferred, 40.1 percent of respondents cited high gasoline prices, down significantly from 47.3 percent in July of last year. "While this is represents positive movement, it's evident that gasoline prices are still dampening demand for leisure travel," says Francis. "Americans also have yet to fully adapt to the airport security measures put in place in response to last summer's security scares.” While only 10 percent of leisure travelers said that safety concerns kept them from traveling more than they would have otherwise preferred, almost 40 percent of air travelers say that in the past 12 months they have experienced excessive security line waits, with about 15 percent having to throw away a personal item that didn’t meet new onboard regulations. About 27 percent had experienced excessively delayed flights, and 22 percent had had check-in difficulties. "Unfortunately, this can all add up," says Francis, "Over 15 percent of travelers say that these airport related problems will make them less likely to travel by air in the future."
Las Vegas, New York and Orlando Still Reign as America's Most Desired Vacation Spots. UK Is A-OK
American travel tastes remain loyal to Sin City, the Big Apple and Mickey Mouse. When travelers were asked where they would most like to visit in the next 12 months, the most popular domestic responses were Las Vegas, New York City, and Orlando/Disneyworld, mentioned by 33.7%, 27.4% and 22.2% of travelers respectively. Two icons of California style, Los Angeles and San Francisco, rounded out the top 5, each mentioned by about 13% of respondents. Internationally, the survey found that about one-quarter of American travelers have gone abroad for leisure in the past 12 months, and the United Kingdom is the most desired foreign destination, with 19.7% of respondents saying it was one of the places they would most like to visit. The U.K. was followed by Italy, Canada, France and Mexico, each mentioned by about 16% of respondents.
A four-page summary of “The State of the American Traveler” study can be downloaded at www.destinationanalysts.com/AmericanTravelerWinter07.pdf
About Destination Analysts
Destination Analysts, Inc is a San Francisco-based marketing and research company specializing in the travel, tourism and lifestyle industries. Founded in 2003, Destination Analysts has provided innovative, affordable research solutions to many organizations charged with tourism marketing success, including the US Forest Service, Nevada Commission on Tourism, Fiji Islands Visitors Bureau North America, DDB Seattle/Amtrak, Miles Media Group/Pennsylvania Tourism, Irving Texas Convention & Visitors Bureau and Jackson Family Wines.
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