The latest national travel survey from Travel Leaders Group indicates Americans are already focused on “end of the year” holiday travel - a “peak” travel time for the airlines impacting price and seat availability.
Travel Leaders Group reports the results from its yearly Fall Travel Trends Survey in which 76.9 percent of participants who book leisure travel say Thanksgiving travel bookings are the same or higher than last year and 79.7 percent say bookings prior to Christmas through the New Year’s holiday are the same or higher than at this time in 2012.
The survey also identifies the top departure dates for holiday travel, the top domestic and international travel destinations for the remainder of the year, year-over-year comparable booking levels and the highest level of optimism among travel agents in the last five years.
The survey was conducted by Travel Leaders Group from August 5 - August 25, 2013, and includes responses from 946 U.S.-based travel agency owners, managers and frontline travel agents from the flagship Travel Leaders brand, along with those affiliated with Travel Leaders Group’s Luxury Travel Network, Nexion, Results! Travel, Travel Leaders Corporate, Tzell Travel Group and Vacation.com units.
“Apparently, home is not necessarily where the heart is for the end of year holidays as Americans are already looking ahead and planning. It might surprise some, but ‘traveling with family to an international destination’ is the reason stated most often by our travel agents as to why their clients are traveling over the holidays,” stated Travel Leaders Group CEO Barry Liben. “When we look at the top international destinations being booked for the remainder of the year, it’s split 50-50 between sunny, warm destinations and Europe among the Top 10.”
Travel Leaders Group travel agents were asked to name up to five top domestic and international destinations they’re booking for the remainder of the year. The following information and trends are based on actual booking data. Top domestic destinations include Las Vegas, Orlando, New York City. Maui, and Honolulu.Top international destinations include Cruise-Caribbean, Cancun, Mexico, London, Rome, and Cruise -Europe Mediterranean.
Holiday Travel: Over 80 percent of survey participants, who indicate leisure travel makes up at least half or more of their business, are assisting clients with holiday travel (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, etc.). When asked to identify the top reasons why clients are traveling for the holidays, the Top 5 responses include: traveling with family to an international destination, taking an international vacation to a beach destination, traveling home to see family, traveling with family to a domestic destination and taking a U.S. vacation to a beach destination.
Thanksgiving: When asked “Comparing your Thanksgiving bookings so far (air, car, hotel) to your 2012 Thanksgiving bookings at this time last year, which is true?” 20.9 percent of survey participants indicate bookings are “higher” and 56.0 percent say they are “about even”compared to this time last year.
When asked “Based on your Thanksgiving bookings, so far, what is the most popular date for departure?” the top response is “2 days before Thanksgiving.”
When asked “Based on your experience, which departure day to one’s destination do you recommend for Thanksgiving air travel for the best overall experience (less crowded, better price, etc.)? savvy travel professional selected “3 days before Thanksgiving” most often.
Christmas: When asked “Consider all bookings you have for immediately prior to Christmas 2013 through the New Year’s holiday, are your bookings …” 33.7 percent of survey participants indicate bookings are “higher than 2012” and 46.0 percent say they are “even with 2012”at this time.
When asked “Based on your Christmas bookings, so far, what is the most popular date for departure?” 23.9 percent said 5 days before Christmas 20.6 percent said 4 days before and 20.4 percent three days before.
When asked “Based on your experience, which departure day to one’s destination do you recommend for Christmas air travel for the best overall experience (less crowded, better price, etc.)?” the largest percentage of Travel Leaders Group agents selected “more than 5 days before.”
"Traveling during wintertime and the holidays can be unpredictable, and by working with a travel agent, travelers can have their very own built-in safety net, allowing them to fully relax and enjoy the season,” Liben noted. “There is no better time for Americans to let our force of over 40,000 travel experts from throughout the Travel Leaders Group enterprise take care of the planning and details for them than over the holidays. We excel at saving our clients time and finding them the best value – many times with added amenities our clients couldn’t get on their own.”
Nearly 85 percent Indicate Bookings are the Same or Better than 2012: When asked to compare overall 2013 travel bookings so far to 2012 at this time last year, a majority (56.5%) indicate that their bookings are higher and 28.3 percent indicate that they are the same as compared to a year ago.
Optimism in the Travel Industry: When asked for their personal outlook on their business for the remainder of 2013, an overwhelming majority (94.3%) are either positive or neutral.