AMEX Cites Insider Tips, Trends for Holiday Travel in 'New Economy'

A survey of more than 460 American Express Travel specialists, conducted in early November 2009, has been released and is revealing interesting consumer travel trends for the upcoming holiday season. The survey shows that travelers are continuing to adjust to the challenging environment with creativity and resourcefulness when it comes to vacation planning.

Timing is Everything

According to the American Express Travel specialists surveyed, 79 percent of customers are waiting until the last minute to book travel in an attempt to secure better deals. While last-minute travel shopping may be an effective option for the rest of the year, only 26 percent of travel agents surveyed recommended this tactic during the busy holiday season. The main reason agents advised booking early this holiday season is to ensure that the deal travelers are considering will still be available for their desired dates.

American Express Travel is advising consumers who have not yet booked holiday vacations to consul a travel specialist rather than scouring Internet as travel agents have access to technology that makes determining dates of availability much easier and, often, agents also can use their contacts to secure the best possible rates and additional perks for their customers

Money on Their Minds: Cutting Costs

*    According to 72 percent of travel specialists, travelers are looking to cut costs by selecting alternate, less expensive destinations

*    77 percent say that more travelers are staying in the U.S. or taking “short-flight” vacations

*    71 percent see travelers taking shorter holiday vacations

*    Travel agents also say that many travelers are choosing more “all-inclusive” types of vacations such as all-inclusive hotels and resorts (seen by 43 percent of agents) and cruises (seen by 40 percent of agents)

Resilient and Resourceful: The Savvy Holiday Traveler

In a year and season where money may be tight, travelers are pulling out all the stops in order to stay on course with their holiday travel plans.

*    89 percent of American Express Travel specialists say that compared to past years more customers are either asking about or utilizing the travel benefits available via their credit cards as ways to either save money or get the most value from their vacation

For example, 30 percent of agents surveyed pointed to the Fine Hotels and Resorts program – a benefit available to American Express Platinum Cardmembers that provides a number of benefits including an complementary room upgrades when available – as being the most popular card benefits

*    An astounding 90 percent of travel agents say that more of their American Express Cardmember customers are using Memberships Rewards points than last year to book all of part of their holiday travel