Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of U.S. adults are planning to take at least one overnight trip, primarily for leisure purposes, during the next six months (versus 60 percent in January 2008), the Ypartnership reports in its most recent travelhorizons survey. The February (2009) edition of this nationally representative survey of more than 2,200 U.S. adults— co-authored with the U.S. Travel Association— revealed that the incidence of travel in America remains robust.
“Most industry chatter is replete with anecdotal reports of canceled business trips, meeting planners who are re-booking groups to more cosmetically 'acceptable' venues in order to avoid the glare of the press, and postponed vacations,” Ypartnership said, noting the new evidence of a robust market. "Not surprisingly, intentions to travel increase with household income (fully eight out of 10 households with an annual income over $75,000 are planning at least one overnight trip for leisure purposes during the next six months). And one out of six adults (16 percent) is planning to take at least one overnight trip primarily for business purposes during the next six months."
According to Ypartnership, the problem is not a decline in the percentage adults who traveling for business or pleasure but is the replies given by respondents to a question about how, if at all, they are planning to change their travel behavior in the months ahead as summarized below.
More Likely To
* Book a package to save money, 87 percent
* Spend less overall, 84 percent
* Comparison shop online, 64 percent
* Take more day trips, 64 percent
* Stay fewer nights, 51 percent
The most frequently anticipated “changes” in future travel behavior appear to be motivated by a desire to reduce the cost of travel. No surprise here (hence the reason for the “trading down” phenomenon now underway in practically every category of the travel industry).
“But the market force that appears to be exerting downward pressure on demand is the conscious effort on the part of travelers to reduce the number of nights they plan to spend away from home, regardless of the purpose of their trip (business or leisure)," Ypartnership said. "Fully half of all travelers who state they are likely to modify their future travel behavior plan to do so by staying fewer nights.
“Assuming an average trip length of three nights for business and four nights for leisure, the negative impact of the realization of this expectation on the lodging, cruise and attraction industries in particular could be significant," the report continues. "So the implication is clear: the real challenge facing the travel industry is less one of getting people to take trips they otherwise were going to postpone or cancel, and more one of getting them to extend their length of stay. This should therefore be the focus of your creativity, and communications, in future marketing programs.”