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Portrait of American Travelers - Top Ten for 2012
January 28, 2013

David Sheatsley, MMGY Global’s Vice President of Research, presented a summary of findings from this year’s Portrait of American Travelers survey at the TTRA CenStates conference in September. From David’s presentation, here is a top ten list from the 2012 survey:

1. Consumer confidence continues to remain lukewarm, yet 53% of U.S. adults plan to take at least one leisure trip between August and January.

2. While propensity for leisure travel increases at higher household income levels, significant numbers of households at moderate income levels are planning leisure trips. 43% of households under $30,000 plan to take a leisure trip between August 2012 and January 2013. 51% between $30K and $50K are planning a trip during that time period. At HHI $100K+, 68% are planning a leisure trip.

3. The mature market, age 67+, spent approximately 25% more on leisure travel in the past year than Boomers, the next-closest spending group. Matures outpaced Millennials, Gen Xers, and Boomers in both spend and consecutive days taken for leisure travel.

4. Factors such as interest in travel, time and money available for travel, and personal outlook on quality and safety of travel are combined to develop the Travelhorizons Traveler Sentiment Index. In the 2012 study, positive outlooks on travel are highest among Gen Y and Gen X consumers.

5. Despite moderate growth of personal finances available for travel, consumer perceptions about the affordability of travel have improved significantly in the last 12 months.

6. 73% of survey respondents agree: life has become too complicated. Perhaps in direct reaction to this, 75% agree that taking a vacation is “the event I look forward to most each year.” Post-travel, 95% agree, “The memories I get from my vacation make the trip worth it.”

7. 30% of survey respondents agree: “I post my vacation photos on social media sites like Facebook to make my friends/family jealous.” Propensity to make family and friends jealous with vacation photos on social media sites is highest among Millennials (age 18-33, 43%), and lowest among Matures (age 67+, 13%).

8. 67% of survey respondents report attempting to stick to a monthly household budget, yet comparative data indicates a significant increase in the percentage of survey respondents who report “I am willing to pay full price on the items I purchase, as long as I am guaranteed the quality and service I deserve.”

9. “Celebration Vacations” are leisure travel related to accomplishments and milestones - birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, etc. 69% of survey respondents state that they have taken a celebration vacation in the past 12 months.

10. While substantial numbers of travelers agree that luxury perks such as premium mattress and bed linens influence hotel or resort selection, the top reasons for selecting a hotel or resort remain financial: value for the price, and room rate.

MMGY’s Portrait of American Travelers is an annual survey of the travel habits of America’s traveling public. The survey covers travel planning attitudes and activities of actual travelers - U.S. adults 18+, household income $50,000+, who have taken at least one trip of 75 miles or more from home, requiring overnight accommodations, during the past 12 months.

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