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How Americans Traveled Domestically Last Quarter: Mostly Alone


Jul 22, 2013 5:10 am

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Even when road warriors travel to meetings or events with colleagues they usually book their travel alone. This speaks in part to the inadequacy of group-booking options, and untapped opportunities for startups.

— Dennis Schaal

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The vast majority of U.S. travelers book their travel alone. Virgin America

One may be the loneliest number, but the vast majority of travelers in the U.S. indeed booked solo travel during the second quarter, according to a new report.

San Francisco-based Sojern, which offers an audience engagement platform for advertisers, analyzed 400 million traveler intent data points from April through June 2013, and concluded that 79% of U.S. travelers book their travel alone while just 2% booked travel for four people or more.

Number of Travelers in Party

Average Number of Travelers Percentage
One 79%
Two 16%
Three 3%
Four or more 2%
Source: Sojern

In addition, Sojern found in its “U.S. Travel Trends” report for the second quarter that solo travelers were much more likely to be on a business trip than travelers who booked a trip for four people or more, who tended to be on a leisure trip.

Some of these findings provide much impetus for startups hoping to take group-travel booking more mainstream because Sojern found that even when road warriors are traveling together, they tend to book their travel separately, for example.

“Group size is one of the key factors indicative of leisure versus business travel,” the Sojern report found. “Solo travelers — those who have only purchased tickets for themselves — are more likely to be on a business trip than groups of four or more. In situations where colleagues are traveling together, they still typically purchase their tickets independently. This differs from leisure and family travel, as one person often purchases tickets for multiple people.”

The report is full of data showing that leisure travel (propelled, in part, by Spring break and Summer vacations) led the way, accounting for 52% of travel in the second quarter versus just 43% in the first quarter of 2013.

Although not part of the Sojern report, the strength in leisure travel in the second quarter sees parallels in the results of American Express, which saw its U.S. consumer travel sales rise 3% to $1.16 billion.

Bucket Lists Vs. Reality?

There were also interesting tidbits about travelers’ intent, which skewed toward search of more leisure destinations, versus actual travel, which ended up being business-travel oriented.

For example, although Orlando (7) and Fort Lauderdale (9) were among the top 10 most-searched destinations in the second quarter, they were no-shows among the top 10 destinations that people actually traveled to.

Similarly, although business-travel-oriented destinations Houston (6) and Philadelphia (10) made the top 10 destinations actually visited, they weren’t among the top 10 destinations searched.

Top 10 U.S. Travel Destinations Searched
New York
Los Angeles
Las Vegas
San Francisco
Washington, D.C.
Fort Lauderdale
Top 10 U.S. Travel Destinations Visited
New York
San Francisco
Washington, D.C.
Los Angeles
Las Vegas
Source: Sojern

Sojern analyzes data it collects through partnerships with major travel brands; some provide data, others do not. Partners include American Airlines, American Express, Avis Budget Group, Choice, Delta, Enterprise, Hertz, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Las Vegas Tourism, Microsoft, Samsonite, Starwood, and United.

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