U.S. Leisure Travel Could Reach All-Time High For Holiday Season

airlineIncreased consumer confidence in personal finances has led travelers to plan more vacations - including the holiday period - with the percentage of U.S. adults planning getaways reaching its highest point since 2007, says the Wave IV travelhorizons survey authored by MMGY Global.

Leisure travel intentions have increased significantly compared to the same time last year, the national survey reports. Sixty percent of travelers plan to take a vacation during the next six months versus 56 percent in 2013.

These increased trip intentions appear to be a direct result of travelers feeling more confident about their personal finances and less concerned about the factors that have traditionally depressed demand for leisure travel services. Included in these factors are the fear of personal job loss and high credit card debt, both of which have dropped 13 percentage points over the past 12 months, the report says.

“The perceived affordability of travel, and personal finances consumers now state they have available to travel, continue to show the greatest improvement over last year," said Steve Cohen, vice president of insights at MMGY Global. “The significant change in these numbers suggests that travelers are feeling more secure about their financial future and are ready to increase their spending on vacations.”

Highlights from the report:

More travel, more spending - Among the 60 percent of travelers who plan to take a vacation during the next six months, 19 percent plan to spend more while on their trip, compared to 13 percent who expect to spend less.

Increased consumer confidence – Out of the 13 financial factors surveyed that could delay leisure travel, all have seen a significant decrease since last year. Although job loss remains the top concern, the factor has dropped 24 percent since one year ago (55 percent to 42 percent). Rounding out the list is the cost of gas, falling from 38 percent to 27 percent, and moving out of the top five concerns for the first time this year. 

Traveler satisfaction increases - Compared to last year, travelers are enjoying their vacations more. Satisfaction with cruise lines is the most improved, displaying a 17-point increase, followed by satisfaction with airlines (12 point increase), lodging (8 point increase) and rental cars (1 point increase).

Business travel is on the rise - Twenty six percent of U.S. adults expect to take at least one business trip during the next six months - a significantly higher percentage than in previous years. While the number of business travelers continues to rise, the expected average number of business trips has decreased from 4 last year to 3.3 now.

Traveler Sentiment Index (TSI) – As we approach one of the most heavily traveled seasons in the U.S., the TSI reflects a slight increase from the level recorded in July. The overall TSI now stands at 110 (versus the initial index of 100, recorded during the first quarter of 2007), up two points from the summer (108). More impressive is the significant 15-point increase from the level observed during the comparable period last year (95). The overall TSI is derived from the following six variables: interest in travel, time for travel, personal finances available for travel, affordability of travel, quality of service, and safety of travel.

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