Holiday Travel May Decline

A significant decline in holiday travel compared to last year, with just 21 percent of Americans planning to travel this holiday season, compared to 28 percent in 2010 has been projected by a new Maritz Poll research study.

These numbers indicate the sharpest decline in the Maritz Poll’s seven-year history, with only 16 percent planning to travel for the winter holidays. This decline amounts to approximately eight million fewer households traveling this year compared to last year, with a projected $8.96 billion loss to the travel industry, Maritz reports.
“This year’s poll findings indicate that the pressures of continued financial concerns are causing people to re-evaluate travel plans,” says Rick Garlick, senior director of consulting and strategic implementation for Maritz Research’s Hospitality Research Group.

Similar to the 2009 poll results, 31 percent of those not traveling indicated that finances played a role in the decision to stay home, with 20 percent citing finances as a ‘major reason’ for not traveling. Additionally, 31 percent said a member of their household had either lost a job in the past year (13 percent) or went through an extensive period of unemployment within the past three years (18 percent), Maritz says.

The only positive economic indicator is that, unlike the year 2009, when the economic downturn caused both travel incidence and financial spend to decline, this year those traveling intend to spend a nearly identical amount to what travelers spent last year, Maritz says.

“Traditionally, holiday travel is one of the most resilient American customs with people undeterred in their desire to get home for the holidays,” added Garlick. “However, with a jarring 31 percent of respondents citing recent or extended unemployment within their households, perhaps holiday travel is more of a luxury than a ‘must-do’ for many Americans this year.”

Additionally, while gas prices remain high across the U.S., the airline industry’s challenges including higher fares, fewer flights and the increased hassle of airport security show that far more Americans are looking to the “road trip” for holiday travel.

“We can understand why the airline industry has had to recently ‘right-size’ its business,” said Garlick. “Still, there will be far fewer travelers crowding the airports this holiday season than we’ve seen in the past. For most people, air travel is not the option it used to be, from both a financial and customer experience perspective.”

Maritz Poll is a national consumer opinion survey conducted periodically by Maritz Research. 


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