The latest study from the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), Leisure Travel Planning: How Consumers Make Travel Decisions, shows that leisure travelers decide where they want to go and for how long before they even consider the price tag.
The study helps travel industry professionals better understand leisure travel decision making among U.S. residents and the role of pricing in a highly competitive environment.
Based on the responses of over 5,000 consumers who had taken at least one overnight leisure trip in the past year, leisure travelers most often decide on the trip destination before other decisions are made. Also, travelers tend to make the key decisions of destination and trip duration before deciding on a trip budget.
“Travelers continue to shop mercilessly for the lowest prices after they’ve made these two decisions,” TIA’s Suzanne Cook, senior vice president, Research, commented on the report. “Obviously the destination or company that gets travelers interested in their offerings before the question turns to price has an advantage.”
Many factors affect leisure travel decisions: The trip occasion has the greatest influence overall (52% reported this as very or extremely influential). Travel companions (46%), time available (43%), and available finances (42%) also were important influencers. The time of year (38%), travel prices (32%), and information sources (21%) played lesser roles.
The most popular leisure trip occasions are: entertainment (for vacation or short getaways), family-centered, outdoor recreation, and combined business/pleasure.
Findings suggest that money may not be travelers’ first concern when planning travel. In fact, more than half (55%) do not stick to a rigid budget as they travel, allowing themselves to stay flexible with their spending. Only about 14 percent of travelers stick to an exact budget while they are taking a leisure trip and 31 percent of leisure trips do not have a budget at all.
When selecting a leisure travel destination, important factors for travelers include a destination where they feel safe (46%), available activities (45%), and nearby friends/family (43%). Deals and discounts (22%) are least likely to be mentioned as an important factor when choosing a destination.
Leisure Travel Planning also takes an in-depth look at the accommodation and transportation choices among U.S. leisure travelers. The study shows that location (60%) and comfort (57%) are priorities in choosing accommodations. Also important are the cost of the room (47%) and privacy (42%). Of slightly lesser importance are amenities (32%), the ability to accommodate the size of the travel party (28%) and special deals/promotions/discounts. Decisions surrounding selection of mode of transportation are influenced most by convenient schedules and low fares (42%, each).
Also included in this report is data and analysis regarding information used for planning a trip and the parties involved, as well as methods for booking various components of the trip. Overall, the report helps to illustrate the complexity of leisure travel planning.