Orbitz Insider Index reveals top 10 holiday travel destinations

Orbitz Insider Index reveals top 10 holiday travel destinations

More than 80% of holiday season travelers plan to spend time with family during at least one of their upcoming trips and most are willing to cut back on buying gifts, if necessary, to cover higher travel costs, according to the Orbitz Holiday Travel Insider Index and Travel Survey that was released today.  The index includes the most popular destinations as well as average flight and hotel prices for the 2011 holiday travel season.  According to the Index, from Thanksgiving through New Year’s average airfares are up 4% year-over-year to the Top 10 destinations.  The report also finds average hotel rates climbed 12% compared to the same period last year.

To supplement the Index, Orbitz also surveyed nearly 800 travelers to gauge their holiday travel plans and preferences.*  The survey finds that while seeing family is the top motivation for travel throughout the holiday season, 40% of respondents limit their “family time” and prefer to stay in a hotel rather than with family.  Other key highlights from the survey include:

*  Family travel (noted by 82% of respondents) ranks as the top reason for travel during the holiday season.
*  Consumers procrastinate when booking holiday travel. 50% of respondents plan to either book trips by the end of October or simply wait for last-minute airfares.
*  Most of those surveyed (68%) would reduce the amount they spend on gifts, or not buy gifts at all, to ensure they have money to cover travel costs over the holidays.
*  57% of those surveyed will not stay connected to work during the holidays.

“With travel demand strong for the holidays, consumers need to lock in their plans as prices are not likely to go down,” said Jeanenne Tornatore, senior travel editor for Orbitz.com.  “Even with air and hotel prices up, we’re still seeing many great travel deals over the holidays.  Orbitz works closely with our air, hotel and car partners to secure affordable vacation packages which provide great options to make your travel dollars go further this holiday season.”

Orbitz 2011 Holiday Travel Insider Index
Orbitz has identified the Top 10 destinations travelers plan to visit for the 2011 holiday travel season. The Orbitz Holiday Insider Index not only provides the Top 10 holiday destinations for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, but also evaluates the average airfare and daily hotel rates in each of the most popular markets.

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Top Thanksgiving Destinations & Highlights
New York ranks as the top destination for Thanksgiving travel.  Airfare increased by 11% with ticket prices up in nine of the 10 most popular locations.  Chicago was the only city that remained relatively flat year-over-year.  Although flight prices are up, consumers can still find great bargains on hotels. In fact, in half of the top 10 destinations holiday hotel rates average under $100 per night.

Top Christmas Destinations & Highlights
Travelers are indicating they are anxious to escape the cold for Christmas with four of the Top 10 destinations in the Sunshine State of Florida.  Orlando, with its bevy of family travel attractions, is the top choice for travelers.  Seven of the Top 10 destinations are offering hotel rates less than $150 a night on average. In contrast to Thanksgiving, half of this year’s top Christmas destinations are posting small year-over-year decreases in average airfares.  The only international destination to make this year’s Top 10 list is Cancun, buoyed by its many affordable vacation packages and all-inclusive resorts.

Top New Year’s Destinations & Highlights
Travelers eager to visit party spots like New York, Cancun, Las Vegas and Miami during the holiday season can find relative bargains for New Year’s Eve.  Airfare to Las Vegas is down 5% compared to 2010, while round-trip flights to New York average $290, and average hotel rates are just $224 per night — all of which represent the lowest costs during the entire holiday season.
For those traveling over New Year’s, Tornatore suggests flying home on January 3 to save on airfare and miss the crowds. Average airfares are highest on New Year’s Day ($594) and on January 2 ($585) – the two most expensive days to travel during this period.