A new Ypartnership travelhorizons survey, conducted in conjunction with the Travel Industry Association (TIA) the week of October 13, says the travel industry must get its messages in front of consumers and expect comparison shopping. The survey says that 71 percent of active travelers in the U.S. intend to take a trip during the next six months. This is the same percentage the Ypartnership recorded the very same month last year (October 2007). Furthermore, almost half stated their travel plans for the next six months would not change as a result of the turmoil in the financial markets.
“That's not to say there won't be some degradation of demand from more value-sensitive travelers, because there probably will be” the survey says. "Not surprisingly, there is strong positive correlation between annual household income and near-term travel intentions (a robust 82 percent of those with annual incomes over $75,000 intend to travel during the next six months). Households with annual incomes below $75,000 are also significantly more likely to agree, 'travel, in general, is too expensive' and that they are reevaluating their travel plans because of 'household budget concerns.' "
And the bad news just keeps coming, according to the Ypartnership’s survey. “And practically every indication from the field suggests that most in the travel industry (both domestic and international) will have to work harder in the months ahead to capture a meaningful share of the demand that's out there," the survey reports. "Some have even questioned, appropriately, if there is sufficient life left in the marketplace to continue to invest in advertising and related marketing efforts given the strong headwinds. The answer, as corroborated through our continuous monitoring of the sentiments of American travelers, is yes, but increasingly for a more upscale demographic group."The Ypartnership survey also forecasts that the center of demand for travel services in the upcoming months will gradually shift toward a more affluent demographic profile that will be aggressive comparison shoppers to insure they get what they consider to be a good deal. According to the survey, seven out of 10 individuals who are planning a trip during the next six months intend to go online to "comparison shop for the best prices."
“Affluent travelers (annual HHI >$75,000) are significantly more likely to 'comparison shop for prices and rates, specifically on the Internet' than their less affluent counterparts (64 percent versus 58 percent)," the survey says. "Assuming you're successful in getting your message in front of them, you probably won't get more than one shot at converting those who are interested because of the spate of competitive offers that are likely to be just one click away. So the smart strategy is to keep the pressure in the marketplace on, and put your most attractive offer(s) right up front without subjecting it to a litany of purchase conditions or disclaimers. There will be more than enough prospective travelers watching to make it worth your while.”