Volatile world events have done little to deter consumers from carrying through with their travel plans, according to results of the just-released 2017 Ensemble Insights Survey. What’s more, the role of the travel professional and interest in lesser-known destinations and travel insurance have taken on an even greater importance by consumers in their travel planning activities.
Ensemble released the survey at this year’s 2017 Ensemble Travel Group International Conference, which is being held through October 19 at the Hyatt Regency Dallas at Reunion.
Conducted in September and based on input from nearly 2,000 Ensemble member agents in the U.S. and Canada, 43 percent of the survey respondents said world events such as terrorism, protests, and election results have had “little to no change” in their travel bookings for 2017 and 2018. Thirty-four percent of the respondents indicated their clients were placing a greater reliance on booking with a travel professional; 32 percent noted an increased interest in lesser-known destinations for their vacations; and 31 percent reported an increase in travel insurance bookings. Members could choose multiple answers for the question.
“These positive survey results tell us that in spite of some very challenging world events – both natural and manmade – most consumers are resolute in carrying through with their travel plans,” said Ensemble’s Carl Schmitt, vice president of marketing, in a written release. “We’re particularly encouraged by the metrics that showcase a travel advisor’s expertise because this tells us consumers understand a professional’s value given our world’s ever-changing conditions.”
In addition, the appeal of experiential travel continues to resonate with consumers, based on the survey results. When asked what is more important to the majority of clients – price or experience – the latter was the clear preference, as 70 percent of respondents selected experience, compared to a distant 30 percent opting for price.
Survey results also indicate 2018 to be a banner year ahead across all travel segments, with 66 percent of respondents expecting total travel bookings to increase compared to an already strong 2017 where 64 percent of those questioned expect bookings to be up this year. Broken out by product when comparing 2018 to 2017:
- 55 percent expect Europe bookings to increase (37 percent-same; 8 percent-down)
- 64 percent expect cruise bookings to increase (30 percent-same; 6 percent-down)
- 59 percent expect river cruise bookings to increase (31 percent-same; 10 percent-down)
- 70 percent expect land bookings to increase (28 percent-same; 2 percent-down)
When analyzed by segment, in cruise, the premium category showed the largest expected gain in 2018 with 44 percent, followed by luxury at 31 percent and contemporary at 25 percent increase. For land, FITs are showing the strongest increase at 51 percent, followed by groups at 27 percent groups and escorted tours at 22 percent.