More people to travel in 2011, and other trends to watch

UNITED STATES Most Americans expect to travel as much or more in 2011, with 90% planning to take at least two leisure trips next year. TripAdvisor surveyed more than 3,000 U.S. travelers about their expectations and interests for the coming 12 months.

According to the survey, the top three hotel brands that travelers are loyal to are Marriott (24%), Hilton (18%) and Hampton Inn (7%). When it comes to booking hotels, travelers are significantly less brand-loyal than a year ago, with 39% of travelers now faithful to one name—a significant drop from 59% in 2010.

Almost all travelers (96%) believe that U.S. hotels offer room for improvement in 2011, with higher standards of cleanliness topping travelers’ wish-lists (22%). Of those who have stayed in international hotels, 90% believe these could be bettered next year, with wider availability of free Internet access the most-wanted enhancement (20%).

While travelers named an increase in online travel deals as the best travel development of 2010 (39%), rising airfares (40%) and bedbugs (20%) are the top two travel concerns for 2011.

More than two in three American travelers plans to take an international trip next year, and of that group, 52% will travel to Europe, 13% will visit Asia and 12% will journey to South America. The top three international destinations U.S. travelers plan to visit in 2011 are Paris, London and Rome.

About 75% of respondents plan to visit a U.S. city next year, with Las Vegas, New York City and San Francisco the most popular choices.

Vacation rentals will be a popular lodging choice in 2011, with 47% considering a stay in a vacation rental home—a significant increase compared to 39% one year ago.

Nearly half (47%) say they will take eco-friendly factors in to consideration, such as their carbon footprint or “green” hotel policies, when making travel plans in 2011. About 20% expect to be more environmentally conscious in their travel decision and choices next year.

Technological advances in 2010 have led to 59% of travelers in employment being more connected to work than ever on leisure trips this year. Most employed travelers (69%) connect with work while on leisure trips, while 1% confess that work always or often impacts their vacations. About 62% check work e-mail on leisure trips, while 13% call the office to check-in.

On the air-travel front, despite being fed up with airline fees, 24% of travelers plan to fly more next year, while 60% will fly the same amount. Shelling-out for in-flight extras is becoming second nature to travelers, with 77% expecting to do so in 2011—up from 72% one year ago.

Some other results of the survey…

Best Travel Development of 2010:

1.    More online travel deals – 39%

2.    Cheaper hotel rates – 22%

3.    More in-flight WiFi access on planes – 12%

Worst Travel Development of 2010:

1.    Carry-on baggage fees – 69%

2.    New hotel fees – 10%

3.    TSA full body scanners – 10%

Best Travel Development of the Past Decade:

1.    Online check-in – 26%

2.    Candid traveler reviews – 16%

3.    Increased options for online travel bookings – 16%

Worst Travel Development of the Past Decade:

1.    More airline fees – 45%

2.    Carry on restrictions for liquids, gels and aerosols – 19%

3.    Longer security lines – 9%

Top Vacation Activities for Next Year:

1.    Visiting a historic site – 85%

2.    Visiting a museum – 73%

3.    Visiting a national park – 46%

4.    Attending a festival – 43%

5.    Hiking – 42%

6.    Water activities – 38%

7.    Visiting a spa – 33%

8.    Gambling – 29%