U.S. Travel Executives Forecast Strong Summer Travel Season During Annual Leisure Travel Summit
Steady Prices and Rise in Multigenerational Travel Among Drivers for Busy Leisure Travel Outlook
NEW YORK (May 22, 2014) – American travelers will hit the road, skies and seas in larger numbers this summer than last year according to senior travel executives at the ninth annual Leisure Travel Summit in New York last week. The four Summit panelists from Best Western International, U.S. Travel Association, AAA, and Digital DNA Infusion all observed that despite the leisure travel market continuing to heat up, consumers remain keen to get the most for their travel dollar.
To view and download the Leisure Travel Summit highlight video associated with this release, please visit: https://www.dropbox.com/s/da5fhkbsmudw4qx/bw-nyc-panel-final.mp4
“I think the most important thing is that what leisure travelers still want, and have probably always wanted, is value,” said David Atkins, Principal at the digital management consultancy firm Digital DNA Infusion. “Whether that’s a deal or an add-on (such as free breakfast), there are all of these ways you can communicate value to the customer. So to me, value doesn’t necessarily mean price reduction.”
“Americans are ready to travel this summer. AAA travel agents are reporting strong summer sales particularly in cruising,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA vice president of travel services. “A rise in ‘home port’ cruises departing from ports nearer to a traveler’s home also leads to more drive trips and overnight hotel stays for a number of travelers."
Sutherland agreed that value continues to be top of mind for Americans who want to get the most out of their vacation investment, whether they are taking a family road trip, romantic getaway or a family reunion cruise. A recent AAA survey showed that the most important reasons people use a travel agent are they are a knowledgeable resource and they know how to get the best deals and save money.
The recent brutal winter that impacted much of the U.S. is another factor driving demand for the summer travel season, said Dorothy Dowling, senior vice president of marketing and sales at Best Western International. Advance booking numbers at Best Western’s 2,200 North American properties show an 11 percent jump in room nights compared to last summer. Additionally, Best Western’s recent “I Dream of Summer” content campaign drew more than 30,000 entrants building their ideal summer getaway on Facebook and generated the highest levels of repeat engagement the brand has seen on social media.
“We do believe this summer is going to be extraordinarily strong,” said Dowling. “We know that memories are created on summer vacations and we think Americans will be investing in the opportunities to build memories with their families.”
The positive impact time off has on families is at the center of U.S. Travel Association’s (U.S. Travel) new TravelEffect.com campaign, which was the kick-off topic during the Summit. Gary Oster, U.S. Travel’s Executive Vice President of Member Services, said that though the numbers clearly show the health and business benefits of time off, Americans continue to leave unused days on the table. Not taking this time off has a negative impact on everyone’s bottom line.
“We need to start a national conversation around the importance of taking earned time off,” explained Oster about Travel Effect. “This is a country that is 24/7, always on, go-go-go, and it’s taking a toll on our economy, business, and our personal well-being. If we all took just one more day, Americans would be happier and healthier; businesses would benefit from refreshed, focused employees; and the American economy would see increased spending and tax revenue.”
When Americans do take the time off for vacation, more of them are doing it with grandparents and grandchildren. AAA survey data shows that 36 percent of Americans plan to travel with multiple generations, a 4 percent jump over last year. Panelists predicted that the multigenerational travel trend will remain on the uptick and needs to be catered to by everyone in the industry.
“It is becoming something quite significant,” urged Sutherland. “Multigenerational travel is growing and will continue to grow as a segment in travel.”
One of the factors spurring the trend towards multigenerational travel is social media. Atkins pointed specifically to the high number of baby boomers on Facebook, where they are now the largest growth category. This digital connection helps families share ideas and inspiration during the travel planning process.
“It’s very easy for a millennial to communicate with a grandparent on Facebook and say ‘hey, here are some of the ideas I’ve got for travel’,” said Atkins.
While more family members are weighing-in on the travel planning, panelists agreed women remain the primary decision makers when it comes to purchasing. Though women may hold the purse strings, their decisions are made with others in mind. Dowling shared data from a new Best Western Female Travel Summer Survey with Wakefield Research that revealed 90 percent of U.S. women frequently put the needs and wants of others over their own when planning summer vacation.
“The significant other tends to be the first consideration in the decision-making process,” said Dowling. “Children are, of course, the other influence when it comes to making that vacation relevant for women,” said Dowling.
Though the summer travel outlook is unquestionably bright, Oster added a note of caution that increased travel means more wear and tear on America’s increasingly outdated infrastructure. For the country to continue to compete effectively for global travel dollars, money has to be spent improving the means by which people reach their destinations.
“Our country needs to invest – and this is not a cost, it’s an investment – in improved travel infrastructure,” said Oster. “Improved roads, bridges, rails and airports will ensure a vibrant economy.”
ABOUT BEST WESTERN INTERNATIONAL, INC.
Best Western International, Inc., headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz., is a privately held hotel brand made up of more than 4,000* BEST WESTERN®, BEST WESTERN PLUS®, BEST WESTERN PREMIER®hotels in more than 100* countries and territories worldwide. Now celebrating 68 years of hospitality, Best Western welcomes hundreds of thousands of guests nightly. Best Western provides its hoteliers with global operational, sales, marketing and promotional support, and online and mobile booking capabilities. More than 20 million travelers are members of the brand’s award-winning loyalty program program Best Western Rewards®, one of the few programs in which members earn points that never expire and can be redeemed at any Best Western hotel worldwide. The brand’s partnerships with AAA/CAA, Minor League Baseball, and Harley-Davidson® provide travelers with exciting ways to interact with the brand. In 2013, Best Western earned our highest level of brand recognition, including our fifth AAA/CAA Hotel Partner of the Year award, second Compuware Best of the Web Gold award, fourth No. 1 ranking in Brand Keys Consumer Loyalty Engagement Index for midscale hotels and seventh TTG Asia Best Mid-range Hotel Brand. Forty-one percent of Best Western hotels worldwide won TripAdvisor Certificates of Excellence for customer satisfaction.
For more information or to make a reservation, please visit www.bestwestern.com.
*Numbers are approximate and may fluctuate.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.
ABOUT U.S. TRAVEL ASSOCIATION
The U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry that generates $2.0 trillion in economic output and supports 14.6 million jobs. U.S. Travel's mission is to increase travel to and within the United States. Visit www.ustravel.org.
About Digital DNA Infusion
Digital DNA Infusion has more than 30 years combined experience in digital management. Its principals bring an unparalleled expertise in strategic planning, business and product planning, product development, technology vendor screening and selection, marketing, business development and consumer insight (market research) disciplines with a focus on digital media, digital advertising and ecommerce. Visit www.digitaldnainfusion.com .