Travel Leaders’ 2012: Upbeat on Travel

Americans are ready to travel farther from home than in recent years and are willing to spend what is necessary for their desired vacation, Travel Leaders reports in its 2012 annual Travel Trends Survey. Over  91 percent of Travel Leaders members say clients will spend the same or more on travel in 2012 as compared to last year. 

The survey  - based on actual booking data – also shows 11 of the top 20 international destinations are in Europe, Asia and Australia – up from just 9 last year. In addition to identifying top international and domestic destinations, the survey offers insights into  “up and coming” destinations, niche travel segments and travel spending.

 “We are very encouraged to see the rise in popularity of such a diverse group of international destinations. We have come to expect London, Rome and – more recently – European river cruising to be near the top of our survey. However, it is nice to see Americans’ interests are diversifying and in large enough numbers to ‘bump up’ destinations such as Hong Kong and Beijing in Asia, and Amsterdam and Barcelona in Europe,” stated Roger E. Block, president of Travel Leaders Franchise Group

Conducted November 21 - December 16, 2011 the 2012 Travel Trends Survey includes responses from 640 Travel Leaders owners, managers and frontline agents throughout the United States.

“It’s important to point out the data that shows nine out of 10 travel agents say their clients will spend the same or more as last year,” added Block. “Additionally, majorities of our surveyed travel agents indicate there’s an increase in interest and bookings for small ship cruising, off-the-beaten path travel, and international family travel. With these luxury-oriented segments on the rise, it’s no wonder the overall optimism our Travel Leaders have heading into 2012 based on bookings to date for the upcoming year is also very high.”

Top Findings

Top “Up and Coming” International Destinations- When asked for their expert findings, Travel Leaders travel agents nationwide indicate Croatia is the top “up and coming” international destination within Europe, Vietnam is tops within Asia, and Panama narrowly edges out Ecuador and Brazil among destinations within Central and South America.

Increasing Interest- Majorities of those Travel Leaders travel agents who primarily book leisure travel indicate they are seeing an increase in interest and bookings for small ship cruising, off-the-beaten path travel, and international family travel, all positive indicators for the growing luxury travel segment.

Travel Spending in 2012- Based on current bookings so far for 2012 and conversations with clients, over 91 percent of Travel Leaders surveyed say clients will spend the same or more on travel in 2012. (That percentage is up over 2011 when 88.3 percent said clients would spend the same or more than in 2010.)

Caribbean- For those travelers looking to stay closer to home, yet use their passport, the trend for 2012 indicates a greater interest in the Caribbean than in recent years. While Caribbean cruising has been the perennial top international “destination” in this survey, luxury all-inclusives in the Caribbean are also a tremendous draw.

First/Business Class vs. Coach- When asked to provide the percentage of leisure travel clients who are purchasing tickets at the front of the plane, 30.7 percent of Travel Leaders indicated that 11 percent or more of their bookings are in first or business class. Another 51.9 percent indicated that 1-10 percent of their clientele is flying “up front."

Travel Spending- Based on current bookings for 2012 and conversations with clients about upcoming travel plans, Travel Leaders indicate their clients will be:

  • Spending significantly more per trip than in 2011- 3.8 percent
  • Spending somewhat more per trip than in 2011- 44.4 percent
  • Spending the same per trip as in 2011- 43.1 percent
  • Spending somewhat less per trip than in 2011- 8.1 percent
  • Spending significantly less per trip than in 2011- 0.6 percent


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