While Americans react to the economy by staying closer to home and taking shorter trips, few are choosing vacation packages and tours that could help them realize significant savings, according to a recent consumer survey conducted by the U.S Tour Operators Association (USTOA). Only 6 percent of 1,000 adults surveyed said they were more likely to take a vacation package or tour to save money.
“Clearly the vast majority of people don’t know that vacation packages and tours can save them an average of 30 percent over planning their own trips,” says Bob Whitley, the USTOA’s veteran president. “We have a tremendous educational job to let people know that, in times of economic stress, tour operators can help travelers realize significant savings.”
Whitley also called for travel agents’ help in spreading the word about tours and vacation packages. “We need travel agents to help us get the message out to clients that tours and packages are the way to go, whether you’re selling to the economy-minded or to the 30 percent of travelers in the survey who said that the economy is not affecting their travel plans," he said. "Not only will your clients thank you, but you’ll find yourself earning commissions on sightseeing, meals, and other included features— in addition to hotel accommodations and transportation. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.”
The USTOA survey also revealed that nearly half of Americans (46 percent) are reacting to the economy by taking trips closer to home. Another 20 percent are taking shorter trips and 17 percent say they are avoiding expensive destinations.
On a positive note, nearly one-third (30 percent) of those interviewed said the economy is not affecting this year’s travel plans. Predictably, those with incomes of $50,000+, higher education, and metro dwellers were more likely to say the economy is not impacting their vacation plans, USTOA says.USTOA has 150 member brands that send 11 million passengers annually on tours. Visit www.ustoa.com or www.ustoa.travel.