Amidst industry warnings that travel costs will continue to rise as Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays approach, more than 63 percent of travelers have yet to book. Instead, travelers are taking on a “wait and see” strategy by tracking fares and hoping airlines and hotels will offer some last minute deals, says Kayak.com, which surveyed more than 1,400 users on its site and
Sidestep.com this month about their travel plans for the 2008 holiday season.
“We realize that consumers are strapped for cash right now and cannot afford the higher cost of holiday related travel which is already up 25-30 percent over last year,” said Drew Patterson, Kayak.com vice president of marketing. “For example, 41 percent of our survey respondents told us they want to stay within the $200-$399 price range per person for travel. Those budget limitations mean that it’s critical for consumers who do plan to travel to book now because with lower capacity and higher fuel costs, last minute deals are unlikely.”
Kayak.com’s survey shows that more than a quarter (27 percent) of respondents said that they won’t be searching for deals at all this season because the economic hardship has forced them to cancel holiday travel plans. For the majority of consumers (73 percent) who are upholding their traditions this season and plan to travel despite the economy, most are watching their wallets and citing the need to accept travel inconveniences in order to penny pinch. The majority rate price as the most important factor in determining travel plans and are willing to sacrifice in order to score the least expensive fare available (71 percent). Travelers are either accepting several layovers or longer layovers in their itineraries to save money (23 percent) or are planning to cut their trips short (20 percent). Only about 30 percent of respondents are planning holiday travel as originally scheduled without alterations.
Consumers who plan to travel this holiday season said they will take longer vacations to make the most out of the inevitable travel headaches and expense. Twenty-nine percent of travelers are heading out of town for five to seven days and 30 percent said they’re leaving for eight days or more, Kayak.com says.
While consumers may be holding out hope for a joyful and thrifty holiday season, actual expectations remain realistic. The majority of consumers (41 percent) expect to pay more for travel this year. But some consumers have a strategy to save a few dollars. More than 44 percent of survey respondents plan to sleep in their old childhood room during the holidays.