With billions of digital dollars flowing through its system, credit card and financial services company Visa has deep data on the travel spending habits of its user base.
In 2012, the picture was decidedly rosy: travel spend by Visa account holders traveling to Brazil, Canada, Mexico and United States jumped over six percent year-over-year, translating into a total of $57 billion.
The company's data product, known as VisaVue, aggregates information from the millions of cardholders and presents them in discrete, digestible data points that shed light on a specific cohort of spenders.
Three key growth areas were identified by the Visa Vue team:
- China knocked the U.K. out of the top three inbound countries traveling to the U.S. for the first time since 2009 – increasing travel spend by 30 percent compared to 2011.
- Visa account holders from Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the U.S. showed more interest in Japan, boosting tourism spend in the country by an average of 25 percent ($948M in 2012).
- Visa account holders in Africa dramatically increased travel spending in the U.S. in 2012 by 17 percent, spending $585M on their Visa accounts. In fact, 80 percent of African countries with Visa account holders who traveled to the U.S. experienced double-digit growth in tourism spending in 2012.
Each country is broken down into the related inbound/outbound trends, providing a revealing view of the international travel movements - and opportunities for internationally-minded companies focused on growth.
United States: Inbound vs. Outbound
The big news on inbound is that China continues to propel much of the travel growth across the globe. The United States saw an increase of 30% from China.
Overall, the country saw 11% growth at restaurants and a 16% decrease of spend by international card holders in-country. Lodging saw a solid 6% of year-over-year increase.
On the outbound side, Americans rediscovered Mexico and are showing increased interest in Japan, both with 17% increase in travel. Europe also continued to be popular. Overall growth in category spending was robust, with cardholders spending at least 5% more in 2012 on restaurants, lodging, and other travel/entertainment.
Brazil: Inbound vs. Outbound
The growth picture as far as travel in Brazil seems to have leveled out, with an actual year-over-year decrease in both inbound and outbound travel.
Nearby destinations saw serious double digit decreases in spend from visiting Brazilians: Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay were not as popular with traveling Brazilians.
Foreign visitors in Brazil also spent much less in-country in 2012, with a giant drop of 37% in other travel and entertainment, and 79% less cash spent at restaurants in the same period.
Mexico: Inbound vs. Outbound
South Americans are increasingly discovering their northern neighbor, with several countries posting double digit growth into Mexico:
Mexicans traveling abroad were spending heavily at discount stores, posting a 43% increase in spending in this category. For marketers targeting this segment, there might be a potential partnership opportunity here as far as shopping trips or related discounts with other brands.
The Unites States also contributed 17% more to Mexico in 2012 tourism - this is a significant rebound after a dip due to drug-related violence.
Canada: Inbound vs. Outbound
Canada continues to be popular with the Chinese, and the increased outbound travel of that country has led to a significant 15% year-over-year increase in spend in 2012:
Check out the 20.5% increase in outbound spending at quick service restaurants - this perhaps dovetails with the more price-sensitive trend of eating out at more affordable spots.
The full 2013 breakdown lives here