Leisure Traveler Trading Down Study Reports

The current economic environment is beginning to influence consumers’ interest in certain types of lodging accommodations the Ypartnership/Yankelovich 2009 National Travel Monitor reports. Compared to last year, preference for independently operated hotels and resorts is up, while preference for chain-affiliated properties is declining. Leisure travelers are also more likely to cite “value for the price” as a key consideration when selecting lodging accommodations.

The new Ypartnership/Yankelovich report says that, although preference for independent lodging is growing (now cited by 20 percent of all leisure travelers), it is still important to note that eight out of 10 leisure travelers prefer chain-affiliated accommodations. This preference has declined significantly from the level recorded last year (84 percent), however. Also, compared to last year, leisure travelers are more likely to prefer a limited-service hotel or motel without a restaurant (40 percent versus 34 percent), and less likely to prefer one that offers full service with a restaurant (60 percent versus 66 percent).

The growth in preference for independent hotels and resorts appears to be driven by two factors. “First, a growing number of consumers appear more interested in the novelty and/or special character many independent operators have scripted into their properties," the study says. "Second, the quest for better value, now defined in terms of a more attractive rate, appears to be motivating many leisure travelers to evaluate independent lodging alternatives.”

The top three factors leisure travelers consider when selecting lodging accommodations are “value for the price,” the “location of the property,” and the “room rate,” according to the study. While location and room rate were cited by essentially the same percentage of respondents in both 2008 to 2009, “value for the price” increased significantly from 82 percent to 88 percent (82 percent to 88 percent).

Another apparent contributor to the perception of good value, a complimentary breakfast included with the room rate, jumped from 51 percent to 58 percent (51 percent to 58 percent). The influence of a recognizable brand name decreased significantly from 51 percent to 44 percent (51 percent to 44 percent).

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