Affluent Consumers to Increase Travel Spend in 2012

January 3, 2012

unity-travel-expenditures-for-2012-jan12.gif43% of affluent consumers expect to spend either significantly (12%) or somewhat (31%) more on travel in the coming year, led by young affluents, men, ultra-affluents, and high-net-worth affluents, according to a December 2011 study by Unity Marketing. Among affluent consumers, with incomes of at least $100k, and who have either traveled in luxury in the past year or have plans to do so this year, 15% expect to somewhat (11%) or significantly (4%) cut back on their expenditures.

The report defines young affluents as those aged 44 or younger, mature affluents as aged 45 and older, high-net-worth affluents as those with investible assets of $1 million or more, and ultra-affluents as the top 2% with incomes of $250,000+.

Unity Marketing’s results mirror findings for the population at-large: according to the October 2011 American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, 42% of American holiday travelers plan to increase their holiday travel budget compared to last year. The most popular reason to increase holiday spending compared to 2010 was to take a longer trip, with 21% of those planning to spend more citing this reason.

Most Will Redeem Rewards

54% of luxury travelers plan on redeeming loyalty or reward points from credit card, hotel, or airline travel miles for upcoming trips, compared to 40% who will not use points and 6% who are unsure. Men, young affluents, ultra-affluents, and high-net-worth individuals are the most likely to use rewards, while women, lower-net-worth affluents, and mature affluents are less likely to do so.

Lower-net-worth affluents are defined as a subset of affluents with investible assets of less than $1 million.

Rewards Losing Influence, Though

Although the majority of luxury travelers plan to redeem rewards points, only 14.5% of 2011/2012 travelers say that being able to use rewards for travel is an influencer, down from 15% of 2009/2010 travelers. Similarly, specialty discount offers (14.8% vs. 15.7%) and advertisements (5.3% vs. 7.2%) are less of an influence than they were 2 years ago.

DIY Seen Popular

Luxury travelers appear to be confident in their booking abilities, though: data from “Luxury Consumers and Their Luxury Travel Plans 2012” indicates that these consumers are 60% more likely to make their own travel plans and reservations than to consult a travel agent (61% vs. 38%). Those most likely to use a travel agent include the young affluent, ultra-affluent, and high-net-worth travelers, while more mature, lower-income, and lower-wealth affluents are more likely to make their own reservations.

3 in 4 Make Plans Less Than 6 Months in Advance

Luxury travelers who have travel plans for 2012 in place say they are most likely to plan a trip either 3 to 6 months in advance (34%), 3 months or less in advance (29%), or at the last minute (11%). Among those who have no plans to travel in 2012, but traveled in the past year, a plurality say their lead time is typically within 3 months or less (49%).

About the Data: Unity Marketing’s report is based on a survey of 1,498 affluent consumers who were required to have purchased one or more of the survey’s 22 luxury products or services during Q3 2011. The survey was fielded through an online fielding service October 5 – 12, 2011.

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