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New Travel Survey Reveals 'Resourcefulness' of Consumers

June 9, 2010 By: George Dooley

It's been said that, to Americans, a vacation is a birthright, and the results of the new Portrait of American Travelers clearly confirm this. Co-authored by the Ypartnership and Harrison Group, the survey offers insights into consumer buying habits and budgeting.

This Portrait surveyed 2,500 U.S. adults whose annual household income exceeds $50,000 and who have taken at least one overnight trip of 75 miles or more from home for either business or leisure purposes during the previous 12 months. According to the results, American travelers took an average of four trips for leisure purposes during the past 12 months (comparable to the average number taken in previous years). Meanwhile, the overwhelming majority of leisure travelers (67 percent) plan to take the same number of trips this year as the last.

Some results of the survey bode well for the travel industry, as a slightly higher percentage of travelers (16 percent) plan to take more leisure trips than those who plan to take fewer leisure trips (14 percent) in the year ahead. Among affluent households with an annual income greater than $125,000, 20 percent plan to take more trips versus 9 percent planning to take fewer. Those planning fewer trips cited concerns about their household budget and reductions in discretionary spending as the primary reasons why.

Other reasons for cutting back on travel next year:

*    Household budget concerns/cutting back on discretionary spending (54 percent)
*    Concerned about economy/own job (39 percent)
*    Airfares are too expensive/costs too much (36 percent)
*    Travel in general is too expensive/costs too much (33 percent)
*    Gas prices are too high (20 percent)
*    No time/too busy (14 percent)
*    Can't get time off from work (11 percent)
*    Need/want to do some projects I have been putting off at home (11 percent)

Travelers have a renewed sense of confidence in their ability to maneuver the financial uncertainty and have moderated their shopping and consumption behavior accordingly. They have done so through their relentless pursuit of deals and special offers, trading down, and a growing willingness to wait for goods and services to go on sale before making a booking:

*    36 percent are using coupons/direct offers ­ more often
*    35 percent are waiting for items to go on sale ­ 35 percent more often
*    28 percent are purchasing generic brands more often
*    ­ 26 percent are shopping online more often

Not surprisingly, their preferred "tools" for managing the process include some of the latest advancements in online travel-planning technology that permit users to comparison shop fares and rates at will, including well-established online travel agencies and new "meta search" engines that aggregate fares and rates from multiple travel-service supplier web sites.

"Tools" typically used to book travel:

*    An online travel agency site such as Expedia, Travelocity, or Orbitz (66 percent)
*    A branded travel service supplier site such as,, or (48 percent)
*    A meta search site such as or (15 percent)



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