Travel Leaders’ 2010 Trends: Optimism is High

After years of being the “bridesmaid” in Travel Leaders  nationwide survey of travel experts, Orlando bested Las Vegas as the top domestic destination being booked, while Caribbean cruising retained its strong foothold atop Travel Leaders’ international destinations list. Even more important, bookings appear to be making a comeback, as is overall optimism among Travel Leaders agents.

Conducted November 30-December 18, 2009, the 2010 Travel Trends Survey includes responses from 521 Travel Leaders owners, managers and frontline travel experts throughout the United States.

“Orlando landing at number one shows the remarkable resiliency strength in family-oriented destinations, while Las Vegas appears to still be suffering unfairly from the intense scrutiny associated with last year’s spate of cancelled conventions,” stated Roger E. Block,  president of Travel Leaders Franchise Group, which includes locations from coast to coast.

“Overall bookings are starting to trend higher, optimism is definitely on the rise, and a significant number of leisure travelers are taking advantage of current hotel prices and ‘trading up’ to more luxurious accommodations – which are all good signs as we head into 2010,” Block said.

“While there may still be short periods of choppy waters ahead for the travel industry, we are well-positioned to help all travelers, whether they are leisure or business travelers,” added Block. “Travel Leaders has maintained its own ranking as one of the top ten travel companies in the United States. Our dedication to our clients, our professional, highly-trained travel experts and our partnerships with top travel industry suppliers are keys to our success. As U.S. consumers begin returning to their previous travel patterns, we look forward to continually providing the best travel experiences possible.”

Top Destinations: U.S. and International Based on 2010 Bookings

    * Domestically, this is the first time since 2003 (when Travel Leaders regularly started compiling this survey) that Las Vegas has not grabbed the top spot – that distinction goes to Orlando in 2010. Also, Chicago is still gaining in popularity as a domestic destination ranking 7th (which is up from 10th in ’09 and 20th in ’08). Los Angeles spectacularly climbs seven spots to number 10.
    * In its initial entry onto the survey, “Alaska Cruises” jumped to the number three spot. Another first-time entry, the U.S. Virgin Islands (remember there is no need for a passport to these Caribbean gems), landed at #19 – just one spot back of Anaheim/Orange County, CA.
    * Caribbean Cruising remains the top international destination with significant value being offered in virtually every region. In all, four cruise itineraries were included among the Top 20 international destinations: Caribbean (#1), Europe-Mediterranean (#4), Mexico (#11) and the Panama Canal (#19).
    * Perhaps as an indicator of an improving economy, Rome, London and Paris all moved up with the latter two rebounding particularly well – Rome is up two spots to #5; London up four spots to #6 and Paris up five spots to #8.

Agents Optimistic on 2010

* Over 67 percent of Travel Leaders experts who book leisure travel indicated that the average length of the leisure trips they’re booking are six-seven days. Those who book business travel indicated that three-day business trips are most common (40.2 percent) followed by two-day trips (33.6 percent)
* A full 80 percent responded “no” when asked if their clients were expressing concerns about the H1N1 virus and it impacting client travel.
* With regards to leisure travel hotel bookings, 41.6 percent indicated that their clients are “trading up” because of the increased value/lower prices while another 47.9 percent indicated their clients are booking the same category of hotel accommodations.
* As for luxury travelers – those spending $15,000 or more per booking – the following insights were revealed: Travel Leaders “typical” luxury client takes two trips a year according to 51.4 percent,  Luxury travelers whose trips average 14 or more days account for 42.2 percent while 41.1 percent take trips averaging 10-12 days,  A majority of luxury travelers add both extra travel days and amenities to their vacations (65.1 percent) and  there is a rather even split between luxury travelers preferring popular destinations (53.8 percent) and those seeking “out of the ordinary” destinations (46.2 percent)