Six out of 10 Americans plan to vacation 100 miles or more away from home during 2010, according to newly-released results of a consumer survey commissioned by the U.S. Tour Operators Association (USTOA). Of those, an average 45 percent said they would travel in the shoulder or off season to save money, reflecting the still tentative economy.
For most vacationers (60 percent), the major goal will be spending time with friends or family. Relaxation ranked second in importance, with seeing new sites ranking third. Significantly, in 2009, time with family ranked as the second most important quality in planning a vacation, after affordability.
Women valued spending time with family or friends higher than men as a vacation goal. Not surprisingly, the survey revealed that younger adults, aged 18-34 are significantly more likely than their older counterparts to vacation for the sake of having a new experience, and people with higher incomes and education are more likely to vacation this year. Previous surveys since 2008 have also revealed that those with higher incomes of $50,000+, have been consistently more likely to travel.
People are planning to vacation closer, however. The majority (58 percent) said they will make their travel plans six months or less in advance, with an average 32 percent planning in less than three months, slightly up compared to 2009, when 25 percent said they would plan within three months of departure.
Convenience is main factor for choosing tours. Of those Americans vacationing this year, a full 60 percent said they would consider taking a tour. When asked why, an average 40 percent cited the convenience of having everything arranged, outweighing other factors, USTOA reports.
An average one out of three said they would take a tour to save money. Taking a tour for security reasons came in as the least important reason, according to the survey.
"The potential to take a tour is clearly there," says John Stachnik, USTOA Chairman. "In 2008 and 2009, 60 percent of respondents believed that vacation packages offered more value, but in 2008 only 6 percent said they would take a packaged tour to save money. Clearly, our mission is to convert that potential into sales, and this is where we need the help of the travel agent community."
Noteworthy, the survey says over 80 percent of all respondents plan to book their own vacations, a slight increase from 2009 and 2008, when approximately 75 percent of Americans said they like to make all their travel arrangements themselves.
The survey, conducted on behalf of USTOA, consisted of two components: a telephone survey of 1035 adults, conducted by the Lieberman Group; and an online survey of 1059 adults, conducted by Valient Solutions Market Research.