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London, Austin and Chicago to be travel hotspots in 2012

London, Austin and Chicago to be travel hotspots in 2012

An improving economy and a pent-up demand for travel resulted in a strong year in 2011 for the travel industry and a bright outlook for 2012 with London, Austin and Chicago projected to be among the top destinations this year. Orbitz ( today released its “Look Back, Look Ahead” Insider Index, examining 2011 travel and projecting top destinations and travel trends for the year ahead.


The Orbitz team of travel experts and editors have coupled their industry experience with consumer booking data and analysis of millions of consumer searches to unveil the best destinations, top hotel perks and travel trends to watch for 2012.

Hotspots for 2012

London: London will mark its place in history as the only city to host the modern Olympic Games three times when it welcomes the 2012 games this summer. "London is expected to attract more than 10,000 athletes and hundreds of thousands more spectators for the games July 27 – Aug. 12," said Nic Bryant, London destination expert and regional director for Orbitz Worldwide. In late June, the city will also host one of its most beloved events, Wimbledon, where spectators can watch some of the best tennis champions compete on the court.



Austin: The trendiest part of Texas only seems to grow in popularity each year and 2012 will be no different, Orbitz experts predict. Regarded as a music lover's mecca, tens of thousands of revelers flock to the self-proclaimed "Live Music Capital of the World" every spring for the annual South by Southwest Festival, which takes place March 9-18 this year. And the excitement doesn't end on that note. "This year, Austin is expanding outside of the music scene and dipping its toes into something new by hosting the first U.S. Formula 1 Grand Prix starting Nov. 18," said Jerrold Broussard, Austin destination expert and regional director for Orbitz Worldwide. 

Chicago: The city that attracts 40 million visitors a year is gearing up to welcome even more as it serves as the backdrop for two high-profile world events in 2012. The 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates will make its North American debut in Chicago in April followed by the G8 Summit in May. "The Nobel Peace Laureate and G8 are two of the biggest global annual events attracting hundreds of international high-profile leaders, dignitaries and organizations," said Emmy Conway, Chicago destination expert and senior market manager for Orbitz Worldwide.  For those who find their own version of peace on the back nine, Chicago will also host the Ryder Cup in September– a bi-annual international golf event eagerly followed by golf enthusiasts around the world.

Sure Bets for Great Deals in 2012

San Diego:  Whether a mountain adventurer or a coastal relaxer, there is something for everyone at a price that works in San Diego. And this year, there's even more of a reason to visit this coastal city.  The convention business is growing, but has yet to reach the peak levels attained during 2007.  This, combined with an increase in supplier inventory, means great values throughout the city. "Hotels throughout the region will likely be looking to fill rooms and offer more competitive rates for leisure travelers," said Lisa Kroll, San Diego destination expert and regional director for Orbitz Worldwide.

Washington, D.C.: A bit of a hush falls over the nation's capital during election years with the Washington insider crowd outside the Beltway campaigning.  "As candidates hit the campaign trail in 2012, more hotel rooms and flights have space available and that can add up to great deals for travelers looking to explore Washington, D.C.," said Donna Mulligan, Washington, D.C. destination expert and regional director for Orbitz Worldwide.

Riviera Maya: Soft white sand and beautiful aqua water make Mexico's own Riviera an oasis for travelers seeking relaxation. With its large hotel infrastructure—the biggest in Mexico—Riviera Maya has long been a shoo-in for travel deals. However, trending declines in visitors from foreign countries will make the area even more affordable in 2012. "With the combination of massive hotel availability and trending declines in European visitors to the region, travelers will be able to nab some great hotel deals," said Antonia Pitta, Mexico destination expert and senior regional director for Orbitz Worldwide.

What Consumers Want Most in a Hotel in 2012

Orbitz prides itself on providing travelers with everything they need to know about hotels inside and out. Based on consumer search inquiries in 2011(1), Orbitz travel experts anticipate these popular perks will continue to drive consumers' hotel booking decisions in 2012:

Convenient transportation: Whether driving or flying, travelers are looking for easy, no hassle ways to get to their destination. Free parking and airport shuttles are among the top-searched hotel amenities.   

Pool: Swimming pools rank high on the list for both families traveling with kids and for those heading to spots like Las Vegas or Miami where it's more about the scene (and being seen) than actually swimming. As one of the top-searched hotel amenities for the second year in a row, pools often determine whether a hotel option will sink or swim for a consumer.

The extras: Consumer searches show there is strong interest in hotel amenities that go beyond the basics.  Four-legged companions are often seen as an integral part of the modern family. As such, search behaviors show that lots of travelers are seeking lodging that will accommodate their pets.  There is also strong interest in hotels that provide spa services, fitness centers and wireless internet.

Orbitz Travel Trend Predictions for 2012

In-house travel experts at Orbitz also identified the top three travel booking trends for 2012.

Mobile: Mobile commerce is expected to nearly double in the U.S. next year(2) and many of those mobile consumers will be on-the-go travelers, Orbitz forecasts. "65% of hotel reservations made via our mobile channels are for same-day stays compared to 14% via traditional desktop browsers," said Chris Brown, vice president of product development for Orbitz Worldwide. Orbitz also offers mobile bookers great deals with the recently launched "Mobile Steals," exclusive, mobile-only discounts of up to 50% on hotels worldwide. Steals are available across all mobile channels including the mobile website ( and the latest versions of the Orbitz iPad, iPhone and Android apps.

Flash Sales: The number of flash sale sites rose more than 350% from July of 2009 to July 2011 and the popularity of such sites seems only to be growing.(3) "To meet consumers' growing demand for limited-time deals, Orbitz recently launched 'Insider Steals,' weekly, members-only flash sales that offer 50% or more off handpicked hotels in top destinations around the world," said Peggy Bianco, group vice president of global hotel services for Orbitz Worldwide.

Gift of Travel: Today, many consumers are finding more meaningful value in giving experiences and memories vs. products off store shelves. "We are seeing parents gifting travel for graduations and birthdays and more engaged couples are opting to register for activities for their honeymoons instead of a set of towels," said Jeanenne Tornatore, senior travel editor for While most give the gift to help people explore somewhere new it can also be a subtle reminder, and the extra push some need, to visit loved ones who do not live nearby.


The collection and in-depth analysis of U.S. consumer travel in 2011 provides a window into U.S. travel habits and preferences over the last 12 months.

Busiest Air Travel Weeks in 2011: For the third year in a row, Christmas week (Dec. 19Dec. 25) was the busiest travel week in 2011, followed by the week leading up to the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving week. Two summer weeks—the first week of August and the third week of June—rounded out the top five travel weeks as many consumers took advantage of the warm weather and kids being out of school.

Orbitz Insider Index: The Top Five Busiest Travel Weeks(4)

  1. December, Christmas Week (Dec. 19–25)
  2. Fourth of July Week (June 27–July 3)
  3. November, Thanksgiving Week (Nov. 21–27)
  4. August, First Week (Aug. 1-7)
  5. June, Third Week (June 20-26)


Top 2011 U.S. Destinations: The usual suspects are back atop the list of the 10 most popular U.S. travel destinations. Las Vegas and New York claimed the top two spots for the fourth year in a row. One surprise showing, however, came from Orlando, which nudged ahead of Chicago, bumping the Windy City down to number four.

Orbitz Insider Index: The Top U.S. Travel Destinations in 2011(5)

2011 Rank



New York


Las Vegas






Los Angeles




San Francisco