It's important for travel marketers to stay tuned to the pulse of travelers, as their travel spend directly impacts the flow of outbound marketing dollars and inbound revenue.
The data folks at American Express, in partnership with ebiquity, have released this year's Spending and Saving Tracker, showing that 90 million Americans will travel this holiday season.
The report is quite detailed (available here), and shows that travel remains a top priority for the majority of Americans. In a welcome sign for the travel industry, a healthy 62% of the population would rather travel than receive gifts.
The economy is rebounding, and consumers are feeling more confident in their travel spend - 10% more consumers this year have travel plans than back in 2011.
The duration of trips are also being extended, with 5% more travelers planning to extend a holiday trip. On the flip side, there was also a small increase in those shortening trips this year.
The internet is still the most popular way to research, plan and book travel. This emphasizes just how far the industry has come in the past three years as far as inducing more and more travelers to plan and book online.
As a counterpoint, travel agents have seen an increase in importance in this particular survey.
In 2012, only 10% spoke with a travel agent to find the best fare. This year, that figure saw an overall increase of 60% in two years, jumping from 10% of respondents to 16%.
The destination is the top priority for 37% of people, showing that consumers have more flexibility in budgeting and available options to select a preferred destination. Budget was only the most important consideration for 26% of respondents this year - that's a drop from 40% in 2011.
While the total spend is down 9% from 2011, the year-over-year increase is significant as travelers plan to spend more on incidentals across the board while traveling - an excellent opportunity for incremental revenue from other businesses in the travel ecosystem.
These two statistics seem to be a bit opposed, with overall spend down, yet spending up on future travel plans. What consumers say they will spend and actually do don't always match, and it's also due to the variance between comparison years (some are 2011 and 2012 in this study).
American hoteliers have much to be thankful for when considering this particular survey, as Airbnb posted only a 3% share of accommodation priority. Of course, American Express cardholders are likely less interested in a home rental than a hotel stay, given the benefits of card ownership.
Finally, the amenities that most appeal to travelers booking hotels this year are food and beverage credits (40%), upgraded rooms (25%), complimentary spa treatments (21%), and late check-out (12%).
Full report lives here.
NB: Sand snowman image courtesy Shutterstock.