Americans 'Cautiously Optimistic' about Summer Travel Season, Still Focused on Value

As the summer travel season approaches, there are some encouraging indicators that consumers are feeling more confident about traveling. AOL Travel's Summer Travel Survey reveals that compared to last year, travelers will be spending more money and taking longer vacations as opposed to cutting vacations short to reduce costs. Additionally, more travelers will be taking multiple vacations.
• 54% of Americans will be taking more than one vacation this year, compared to 50% in 2009.
• 67% of Americans plan to spend more than $1,000 on vacations this year, up from 62% in 2009.
• Only 39% are planning shorter stay vacations, such as long weekends, to help cut costs. The percentage is down 2% from last year.

While Americans are traveling more, spending more, and staying longer than last year, an increased focus has been placed on value. Travelers are becoming more and more savvy when it comes to getting the most for their money.

Americans are asking travel providers to step up: 74% of Americans will be proactively asking travel providers for discounts, versus 61% in 2009. Travelers are looking for travel providers to build in extras -- for example, three-fourths of Americans would be swayed by a hotel's free breakfast offer, up from 61% last year.

Americans are becoming more sophisticated in how they shop for travel: Almost 70% will be comparing prices across websites, compared to just over half of Americans last year. Use of "opaque" sites like Priceline and Hotwire is up from 24% last year to 36% this year. Interest in last minute deals is also up, with 29% opting for a last minute purchase versus booking weeks to months in advance. Last year, only 16% said they would take advantage of last minute deals. Travelers are also remembering their reward points -- 46% plan to cash in cash some in this year versus 31% last year.

Americans are also becoming more flexible with their travel plans: Almost 50% will be traveling during non-peak periods, up from 35% in 2009. Compared to last year, consumers are also more willing to be flexible with their travel dates and more amenable to connecting flights. 77% said they would be willing to be flexible with their vacation travel dates to get the best possible price and 66% said they would consider a connecting flight to save money, up from 61% and 58% respectively last year.
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