US leisure travel expected to grow

The demand for leisure travel continues to grow, but the manner in which Americans vacation continues to change is revealed in the newly-released Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell (YPB&R)/Yankelovich Partners 2007 National Leisure Travel Monitor. The percentage of adult Americans who have taken at least one overnight trip of more than 75 miles from home continues to rise. According to the 2007 study of the travel habits, preferences and intentions of Americans, fully 95% of American adults took such a trip during the past 12 months (up from 92% last year).

Among the trends unveiled in the 2007 National Leisure Travel Monitor:

Upbeat outlook.

Fully one-third of leisure travelers anticipate taking more trips in the coming year, versus 26% who state they are likely to take fewer trips. Four in ten say they will take the same number of trips during the year ahead.

Vacation variety

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The most popular type of vacation remains “visiting friends and relatives” (56% of leisure travelers), followed by beach or lake vacations (27%), general sightseeing vacations (21%), urban or city vacations (15%), cruise vacations (12%), camping and hiking vacations (12%), and theme park vacations (11%). Less than one in ten American leisure travelers took a gambling vacation (9%), while only 2% took a golf vacation.

Keep it short.

Short getaways of four nights or less (including a Saturday night stay) remain the most popular vacations and represent over half of all vacations taken by Americans last year.

Busy, busy

One out of four adult leisure travelers is planning to take fewer vacations this year. When asked why, the most frequently cited reasons were an inability to get away from one’s job, projects at home and the strained condition of the household budget.

Side by side

The established trend of traveling with a spouse or another adult without children continues to prevail, with six in ten vacationers reporting having taken at least one such trip last year. Travel with children continues to grow, however, with over three in ten adults reporting at least one family vacation with children. “Vacations for One” also continue to grow as the incidence of single-person households continues to rise.

Quiet, please.

Cited as “very/extremely influential” when selecting a hotel or resort is a preference for quiet or soundproofed guest rooms, along with noise reduction windows and walls.

Give me my points.

Frequent flyer miles are of great interest to leisure travelers, with almost half now participating in airline-sponsored programs (three out of ten participate in hotel frequent stay programs).

Hear it from a friend

Word of mouth referrals continue to be the most trusted source of information about travel. More than 80% of leisure travelers state they are extremely confident in the recommendations of friends and relatives. But online reviews and blogs are increasingly popular sources of information for consumers: fully four out of ten leisure travelers now report reading online reviews of both suppliers and destinations.

Looking and booking online

The majority (66%) of leisure travelers who are airline and hotel users now go exclusively to the Internet when planning a future vacation, while 57% report making reservations online. These numbers underscore how quickly consumers have embraced this new medium since 2000, when only 35% of leisure travelers used the Internet to plan travel and just 18% actually made a reservation online.

The Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell/Yankelovich Partners National Travel Monitor is an annual study of a nationally representative sample (1,882) of active leisure travelers in the United States. Widely regarded as one of the most accurate barometers of the travel habits and intentions of Americans, the survey is now in its 16th year.
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