Americans renew interest in quality travel: MMGY

“Trading down,” “staycations” and other cost-conscious travel behaviors that emerged during the Great Recession have waned, and Americans have a renewed interest in quality experiences they deem “worth it,” according to a new survey of 2,527 U.S. households by MMGY Global/Harrison Group.

The study found that today’s travelers:

Place high value on the emotional power of travel: More than nine in 10 travelers agree, “The memories I get from my vacations make the trip worth it.”

Are more likely to trade up: More travelers prefer upscale hotels and resorts this year than last, with 26% of vacationers preferring luxury lodging versus just 15% in 2011. And travelers increasingly place a premium on the convenience associated with access to full hotel services: eight in 10 now prefer a full-service hotel or resort, compared to 75% two years ago.

Emphasize the experience versus the cost: Today’s travelers choose the destination (34%) and type of trip (33%) first, before setting a budget (18%) and searching for deals (8%). However, perceived “value for the price” remains the most influential factor for nine out of 10 travelers when choosing lodging.

Focus more on family: “Togethering” vacations are on the rise in what remains an uncertain economy, with 43% of leisure travelers saying family getaways were the primary purpose of one or more leisure trips during the past year, compared to 40% two years ago.

Changed the types of trips taken last year: Travelers enjoyed both trips focused on outdoor activities as well as city-based vacations last year, with each type of getaway reflecting a two percentage-point rise since 2011 (46% and 25%, respectively). Less-active general sightseeing vacations declined, dropping from 29% in 2011 to 26% today. Gambling vacations and trips to see sporting events also declined in popularity.

Showed a shift in destinations of interest: While California, Florida, Hawaii, New York and Alaska remained the most popular U.S. states in terms of vacation destinations, Louisiana, Michigan, Oregon and Washington, D.C., were the beneficiaries of increased interest. International destinations with rising interest in visitation include Africa, the Middle East and Oceania. However, fewer U.S. travelers are interested in international trips overall, dropping to 9% of all leisure travelers today (versus 11% last year).

Use mobile media differently: While less than one in 10 leisure travelers accessed the Internet through an iPad or tablet computer in 2011, this has increased to 27% in 2012. Travelers now use tablets more frequently when comparing prices, making air travel or lodging reservations or purchasing tickets to attractions and other activities.