Americans Make Vacation Plans

May 17, 2010

Summer travel is a priority for the majority of Americans despite the economic downturn, according to the May 2010 American Express Spending & Saving Tracker.

More than Half of US Plans Summer Getaway
More than half (51%) of the general US population is planning a vacation this summer. Affluents (73%) and young professionals (83%) are even more likely to take a vacation. Those surveyed plan to spend an average of $1,000 per person on summer travel, indicating that the average family of four expects to spend about $4,000 on their summer vacation. That figure jumps to around $4,800 among young professionals and nearly $6,400 among affluents.

Driving Vacation Savings
The vast majority (80%) of respondents have a strategy to reduce the cost of their summer vacations. The most popular ways to stretch travel dollars among the three groups surveyed include:

amex-spending-saving-tracker-may-2010.jpg

Family Trips Most Popular
The most popular type of summer vacation this year is a family trip, with 52% of respondents planning to take one. Other planned vacation types include:

  • Couples trips (26%).
  • Trips with friends such as “girlfriend getaways” and “mancations” (10%).
  • A “staycation” – intending to enjoy time off and attractions near home (11%).
  • Experiential or adventure vacations such as a culinary retreat or hiking trip (7%).
  • Educational vacations (4%).

Southern US Will See Visitors
Nine in ten Americans (89%) will stay inside the US for their summer vacations this year. Destinations in the South (31%) and Northeast (29%) will be the most frequented. A significantly smaller percentage of consumers (16%) plan to travel outside of the US, primarily to the Caribbean (6%), Canada (5%), and Europe (4%). Affluents (19%) are more likely to venture outside of the US and young professionals (29%) are more than twice as likely as the general population to do so.

Staying Connected While Away
While on vacation, the majority (77%) of Americans intend to stay “connected” via internet, phone, social media or other channels. However, the primary reason for doing so is to stay in touch with family and friends (89%), as opposed to staying on top of the news (31%) or work (14%).

Aside from checking personal and/or work-related email (79%), the most popular online activities consumers plan to engage in while on vacation include using internet sites to find trip-related information, recommendations/deals for restaurants/activities, and directions (38%), online banking (37%), and checking/updating social media profiles (20%).

Most consumers (65%) expect connectivity to be included in their vacation accommodations and are not willing to pay extra, but 35% would be willing to pay an additional fee.

Keeping Kids Busy All Summer Long
At home, 58% of parents will also look for ways to keep their children engaged through educational and recreational activities. In fact, many parents (26%) say they will spend more on activities during the summer than they do during the school year with an average of $600 per child. The most popular activities planned for their children outside of the home are:

  • Some form of camp (35%).
  • Enrichment activities, such as music, theater or art classes (10%)
  • Swimming lessons (10%)
  • Summer school or tutoring (8%).
  • Foreign language classes (4%).

Warm Weather Means Travel
Two online search categories, “Theme Parks” and “Vacation Packagers,” showed strong month-over-month growth in March 2010, according to Compete. Sixflags.com led the sites in Compete’s Theme Parks category with a total of 845,000 unique visitors, an 89.5% increase from February 2010. Seaworld.com (427,000 unique visitors), disneyvacations.com (344,398 unique visitors) and buschgardens.com (282.895 unique visitors) all experienced month-over-month gains and contributed to the category’s total 4,029,013 unique visitors for the month.

Compete’s Vacation Packagers category was also among the month’s top movers with a total of 6,788,309 unique visitors, a 30% increase in traffic from February 2010. Top sites in this category include voyageprive.com (1,408,864 unique visitors), southwestvacations.com (743,581 unique visitors) and cheapcaribbean.com (681,440 unique visitors).

About the Data: The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker research was completed online among a random sample of consumers aged 18 and older. The research sample of 2,000 adults surveyed the general U.S. population, as well as two sub-groups, the affluent and young professionals. Interviewing was conducted by Echo Research between April 16 and April 21, 2010.

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