Forty-two percent of U.S. travelers are planning to increase travel spending this year and 79 percent of U.S. hoteliers are optimistic about increased profit this year, leading the world average of 68 percent, TripAdvisor reports in its recent TripBarometer by TripAdvisor study.
The results of the TripBarometer highlight country level, regional and global trends within the travel sector and reveal insights into economic outlook, travel planning, booking methods and traveler expectations. Specific to the U.S., the report shows strong indicators for increased travel spending and accommodation profitability in 2013.
Perhaps fueled by optimism, 56 percent of U.S. accommodations plan to increase their room rates in the next three months, making them the most bullish about rate hikes of all countries polled. Looking at hiring trends within the accommodation industry, 19 percent of U.S. accommodations plan to add new jobs in 2013, which matches the global average, the survey notes.
What are U.S. travelers looking for in 2013 — and how and when do they plan to book? The TripBarometer study offers some important insights:
• Beach (21%), culture (17%) and adventure (15%) trips are U.S. travelers' preferred excursions.
• U.S. travelers most often travel with a significant other (60%), followed by flying solo (17%) and with kids (15%).
• For a long trip, 80 percent of U.S. travelers begin planning their vacation two or more months ahead of time. For a short excursion, 77 percent plan their trip within a month of departure.
• Globally, travelers look at an average of seven properties before booking an accommodation, with 55 percent of U.S. travelers considering 1-5 options, and 26 percent considering 6-10.
• The top three decision making factors for global travelers are: price (76%), location (68%) and online reviews (44%). U.S. travelers agree.
• What deals will motivate U.S. travelers to book in 2013? Room discounts (79%), a free night's stay with booking (51%) and free Wi-Fi (45%).
Online channels are acting as a megaphone for traditional 'Word of Mouth' recommendations, TripAdvisor says.The TripBarometer reveals that travel review websites surpass feedback from family and friends as the "most useful" sources of information when researching and planning a trip. Travel review websites were found most useful by 56 percent.
With travelers going online for their travel research and planning, they are also showing preference for online as the primary booking channel. In the U.S., the majority of travelers are booking via accommodations' websites (32%), closely followed by web-based travel agencies (28%), TripAdvisor says.
In line with these findings, U.S. business owners report their own website as the channel that generates the most bookings (50%), followed by the telephone (22%).
According to the TripBarometer, 62 percent of U.S. travelers think it is beneficial that properties allow them to book an accommodation via a mobile device. Similarly, 78 percent of accommodations think it is important to allow guests to book their property on a mobile device.
However, despite the perceived importance of mobile booking capabilities and consumer demand for this, only 37 percent of U.S. business respondents currently engage with guests via mobile devices. Of those that do engage with travelers via mobile, 69 percent allow guests to book rooms on mobile devices.
"The TripBarometer has revealed useful insights into what global travelers are planning and shone a light on the areas where accommodation providers can do more to meet guests' expectations," said Christine Petersen, President, TripAdvisor for Business.
"With travelers choosing digital channels for their travel planning and research, traditional word of mouth has been amplified and online booking has become the norm across the globe. The next logical step is mobile, especially considering that travelers in some emerging markets are bypassing desktops and getting online for the first time using mobile devices," Petersen said.