Destinations

Behind the U.S. Summer Traveler’s Search for Value

Jun 30, 2014 11:00 am

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It’s important to note that travelers aren’t being cheap, they’re just making smarter choices with their money now that they have a bit to spend again.

— Jason Clampet

Free Report: The State of Student Travel

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Travelers hitting the road this summer want value, according to Tracy Paurowski, director of public affairs for American Express Travel.

Americans expect to spend $1,246 per person this year (up from $1,145 in 2013), and prioritizing perks over price is one trend driving this increase, she said.

This is an excerpt from our latest Global Trends Report “The Changing Business of Summer Travel in the U.S.,” which examines what’s happening this season in tourism across the U.S.

In a recent survey from American Express Travel of their travel counselors, 35 percent of travel counselors are seeing travelers pay more for their trips to upgrade their travel experience by spending on excursions and activities while they are away, Paurowski said.

This presents a great opportunity for upsell during the booking process.

Parago’s the great American vacation study suggests that consumers are still spending time looking for deals. As many as 96 percent of travelers who earn more than $100,000 annually said they look for travel deals. And 85 percent of all people who are traveling for non-business reasons said they look online for deals.

At the same time, the budget-stretching measures include a few things notable to travel and tourism businesses: About two-thirds (64 percent) book their summer travel plans at least one month out or more in advance, according to American Express. Travelers also said they would drive instead of fly to cut costs (44 percent, up from 39 percent in 2013), take a shorter trip and dedicate more time to bargain hunting (33 percent each).

“For many travelers, the priority is not just the overall cost of getting away, but what else they are getting out of it,” Paurowski said. “ As a result, we’re seeing consumers gravitate towards deals that offer perks like food and beverage credits or free Wi-Fi.”

Surprisingly, despite all of this deal-hunting, travelers are not buying in bundles. Parago’s survey indicates that 75 percent of vacation travelers never or rarely purchase travel packages that include both airline and hotel reservations.

And although they are most likely to look for deals, the $100,000+ salary crowd is the least likely to purchase the airline and hotel packages.

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The first four pages of the 19-page report, including the Executive Summary and Table of Contents, are embedded below:

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