No less than 81 percent of Travel Leaders (formerly Carlson Wagonlit) agents indicated that they are either optimistic or satisfied with the outlook for their business for the remainder of 2008, according to the 5th Annual Fall Travel Trends Survey. The survey of 415 Travel Leaders agents revealed that Americans are still traveling and turning to travel experts to ensure they get the most value for their money. The survey, conducted July 28-August 19, 2008, includes information from Travel Leaders agents, managers and owners.
“We had an extraordinary response to this year’s fall survey, which is particularly important given ongoing news about the economy. The survey results offer a very good indication of what the rest of the year holds for U.S. travelers,” stated Roger E. Block, president of Travel Leaders. “While there has been some softening in the level of fall bookings for 2008 over last year, we’re struck by the degree of optimism our Travel Leaders are expressing from coast to coast.”
Among the findings, a total of 51.6 percent of respondents indicated that their bookings are higher than or even with last year at this time. “Last year was an extraordinarily good year for most agencies, so while half of respondents’ bookings may be off from last year’s peak, there is still inherent optimism among Travel Leaders agencies about the future,” Travel Leaders said.
Members were asked to compare their overall 2008 travel bookings so far to their 2007 bookings at this time last year. They’re higher, said 26.8 percent. About even: 24.8 percent. Lower: 48.4 percent. When asked what was their personal outlook for their businesses, 12.5 percent said very optimistic. Fairly optimistic, 38.6 percent (Total Optimistic: 51.1 percent.) Neither optimistic nor pessimistic: 29.9 percent. Fairly pessimistic: 16.1 percent. Very pessimistic: 2.9 percent. (Total pessimistic: 19.0 percent.)
Clients are driving more, the survey noted. Nearly 30 percent of survey respondents indicated their clients were driving more to their destinations due to high gas prices and/or extra fuel surcharges. The extra cost has caused some people to scale back travel was reported by 63.9 percent of agents.
Travel Leaders agents have also been using a variety of tactics to help their clients continue to travel and save money in the process including use of known and trusted suppliers, use of air consolidators, cruise vacations, traveling off-season and finding alternative destinations.
Travel Leaders also indicate their clients are saving money by shortening trips or vacations (traveling fewer days), choosing to driving vs. flying, traveling domestically rather than internationally, traveling regionally (closer to home) and lowering standards (4-star rather than 5-star hotel, etc.)