USTOA Survey Highlights Vacation Preferences

Destination ranks above price and value in terms of importance when booking a vacation, a telephone survey of 1,000 vacationers by the United States Tour Operators Association shows. The largest group of respondents, 35 percent, said they choose a destination first and then shop for the best value, while 19 percent said they travel to the destination of their choice regardless of price and value. Only 16 percent of respondents said they shopped for the lowest price before choosing a destination. What's more, those polled said they prefer returning to destinations they like. Thirty-one percent said they typically repeat favorite vacation spots, but sometimes try new destinations, while 22 percent said they stick to a few places. Only 16 percent said they usually seek a new destination with each vacation, but more than half of the respondents said visiting an unfamiliar place would prompt them to choose a tour or vacation package. Bob Whitley, USTOA's president, said he sees these trends reflected in tour operators' products and advises agents of the selling potential. "The research results underscore the importance of selling the experience of escorted tours and packages," Whitley said. "Savvy travel agents can point out the benefits of traveling with an expert tour manager as well as the added insights into an area's history and culture provided by guides. Another selling point highlighted by the survey's results is that tours and packages provide excellent ways of visiting new places." Visit [www.ustoa.com].

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