Trend Watch: June 7, 2010

Americans Find Ways to Save on Summer Travel

Summer travel is a priority for the majority of Americans despite the economic downturn, and according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, more than half (51 percent) are planning a vacation this summer—even more so among the affluent (73 percent) and young professionals (83 percent). Those surveyed plan to spend an average of $1,000 per person on summer travel ($4,000 per average family of four). That figure jumps to around $4,800 among young professionals and nearly $6,400 among the affluent. The majority of those taking a vacation (80 percent, see table below) have a strategy to reduce costs.

U.S. Inbound Travel Drops 

The U.S. welcomed nearly 55 million international visitors in 2009, 3.1 million fewer than in 2008. Moreover, those international visitors who did travel to the U.S. in 2009 spent markedly less. While international visitation decreased 5 percent, spending by foreigners declined 15 percent ($21 billion) in 2009.

Softening the annual decline, international arrivals turned positive during the closing months of 2009, increasing 1 percent, 2 percent and 5 percent in October, November and December, respectively.

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce; International Trade Administration;  Office of Travel and Tourism Industries

No-Minimum GDS Gains Favor

Travel agents and agencies are switching from fixed-rate-based GDS contracts to “no-minimum” and  productivity-based contracts for greater flexibility in how and when they use their GDS for booking, says ASTA’s 2009 Global Distribution System Report. In other findings:

*    39.7 percent of respondents said they have a “no-minimum” pricing plan, up 60 percent since 2005.  
Of agencies with minimum-use clauses, 63.7 percent stated they never fell below their contracted amount.  
The majority (85.7 percent) use only one GDS, with an additional 14.9 percent using a secondary GDS, an increase compared to 2007 and 2008.
Although GDS usage is down 19 percent since 1999, more than 75 percent of agencies are satisfied with their provider, and 55.4 percent plan to renew their contract.
About a quarter of respondents use a booking software program with their GDS.

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