Cost Is Now Less Important for Leisure Travelers: Stats

“Coronavirus” (or “COVID”) is no longer the most popular “C” word when it comes to the travel decision-making process. Now, that title belongs to “cost,” according to the “2023 Leisure Travel Trends Study” by TravelBoom, a digital marketing agency for hotels, resorts and vacation rental companies.

In this most recent survey, only 6 out of approximately 1,800 respondents indicated that COVID was the first thing to come to mind—and, instead, words like fun, relaxing, sunshine and beach have taken center stage. Cost, too—but respondents seem to have mixed feelings towards the economy and price of travel. In short: Despite some concerns, people are still making time for travel.

To that effect, 2023’s report found a 7.2 percent increase from 2022 in travelers who have gone on at least one vacation lasting five days or longer. Travelers are also taking trips more frequently, with an increase of about 8 percent in travelers who have taken two or more trips in the past 12 month (52.2 percent in 2022; 60.2 percent in 2023). Along those same lines, “one-trip wonders” are losing steam, with respondents who have only taken one vacation in the last 12 months dropping a nearly equal 10 percent.

When it came to inspiration, four in 10 respondents (43.5 percent) said that discussions with family or friends were the top trigger to start planning; next on the list was “I simply needed a vacation” at 35.3 percent. The remainder of responses received low engagement: Email promotions at 3.5 percent, social media posts by a property or destination at 2 percent, and social media posts by a friend or family member at just 0.8 percent.

“The social media statistics may be shocking, especially in a society that spends so much time online, but a vacation ad on someone’s feed isn’t going to inspire them to take a vacation if they weren’t already planning one—and this data has been consistent for years,” the report said. “This doesn’t mean a strong social media strategy isn’t necessary—you just need a smarter plan than a basic social media campaign, like re-targeting past guests to keep your [business] in the front of their minds when they enter the travel planning cycle.”

The report continued: “You don’t know when your [clients] will talk travel with their friends or when they’ll need a vacation. You need to employ intelligent marketing strategies to put your [business] front and center, waiting for them when they start their planning process.”

Once they’re inspired, vacationers are planning farther in advance, with 11.2 percent fewer respondents this year traveling within a month of booking and 9.6 percent fewer traveling within two months. Conversely, the planning cycle for three months out rose by 12.6 percent and for six months by 10 percent.

Back to cost. While nearly half of respondents (45 percent) were very concerned about the U.S. economy (alongside another 32 percent who were slightly concerned), cost is now less important for leisure travelers, with a 14 percent decrease in the importance of price and a related 24 percent decrease in the importance of special offers and promotions. Only 16.3 percent of respondents who had booked, but not yet been on their vacation, indicated that they would consider canceling their vacation due to higher travel costs. Perhaps this is due to that, while 77 percent of respondents had some level of concern for the economy, only 52.5 percent were very (14.2 percent) or somewhat (38.3 percent) concerned with their own personal finances. Another third (31.2 percent) of respondents reported they were “neutral” in regard to their own personal economic situation.

Online bookings continued to rule the results with 74 percent selecting so—a 2.6 percent increase from 2022’s results. Just 2.8 percent of respondents used a travel agent.

Source: TravelBoom

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