American Express Travel recently surveyed a group of its agents – nearly 300 travel counselors – to get the scoop on what is trending with their customers for this upcoming summer season (travel between June 1 and August 31). Nearly half (45 percent) said their summer travel bookings, relative to their bookings from last year, have increased. This is despite the fact that 67 percent percent said the cost of travel is up when compared to 2013.
Travel counselors cited rising costs in key travel categories – airfare and hotel stays – as main reasons for the increase in the cost of summer travel. However, 35 percent indicated costs are up because customers are choosing to spend more on amenities such as excursions and other activities. When further asked about what is most important to travelers when booking summer travel, the findings show customers are prioritizing perks over price:
- 33 percent said customers want added value such as upgrades
- 26 percent responded the destination is most important to customers
- 20 percent indicated budget as their customers’ top consideration
“After one of the coldest and snowiest winters on record, it’s no surprise people are itching to get away this summer,” says Laura Fink, vice president of American Express Travel. “That long, cold winter has fostered a demand for travel where customers are placing a premium on perks and amenities to upgrade their trip experiences despite rising costs.”
The survey also indicated the average duration of summer trips are 10 days. When asked what type of experience most customer are looking for, 43 percent responded relaxing experiences such as an all-inclusive beach vacation while another 34 percent said customers are looking to immerse themselves in the culture of the destination. Cruise vacations remain popular as well; nearly one third of the travel counselors surveyed said clients are booking cruises for the summer.
While the majority of travel counselors (81 percent) are planning vacations for clients and their immediate family, 35 percent report curating trips for multi-generational families and 29 percent are planning experiences for their clients traveling with friends or a significant other.
When looking at where customers are heading to this summer, based on bookings made at amextravel.com and through its travel counselors, most travelers will continue to flock toward popular destinations. The top ten include:
4. Orlando, FL
5. New York, NY
6. Kahului, HI
7. San Francisco, CA
9. Los Angeles, CA
10. Honolulu, HI
While cities like London and Orlando are longtime favorites, bookings at destinations with the greatest year-over-year growth indicate a more adventurous streak amongst this year’s travelers. From a top sporting destination to national parks to an island retreat, the top growing summer destinations for 2014 include:
1-5. Brazil (Manaus, Recife, Salvador,
Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo)
7. Hilton Head, SC
8. Grand Junction, CO