Know Your Markets! Summer 2012 – What Lies Ahead?

According to the Travelhorizons™ quarterly report by MMGY Global and the US Travel Association, the outlook for summer travel continues to brighten for the second consecutive year,  with more than three in five US adults (64 %), or an estimated 154 million Americans, planning on taking at least one trip for leisure purposes during the next 6 months. The percentage of Americans planning to travel between May and October is up from 61 (%) last April and 56 (%) in April 2010.

The results are based on a survey of 2,200 US adults taken in April 2012. “The April travelhorizons results come as welcome news for destinations and travel companies ahead of the summer and fall travel seasons,” said Roger Dow, President and CEO of the US Travel Association.

Business travel is expected to improve slightly in the next six months, compared to the same timeframe as last year, with 17% of US adults planning at least one business trip between May and October, a typically slow period for such travel. An encouraging sign that general business activity in the US is on the mend is that business travelers took an average of 6.3 trips in the past 12 months, the highest average number in the past 5 years.

The overall Traveler Sentiment Index™ (TSI), which tracks Americans’ evolving attitudes toward travel, reached 93.5 in April, nearly 10 points higher than April 2011 (March 2007=100). It was also significant that April’s TSI remained essentially unchanged from the level of 93.6 in February, bucking the concern and speculation that higher gasoline prices earlier in 2012 would depress travel sentiment, as it did in 2011.

An other survey, Expedia’s 2012 Flip Flop Report, examines summer vacation behavior and preferences across 5 continents.

Among other findings, Expedia’s Flip Flop Report revealed that the beach is by far the favorite destination for the majority of the world’s travelers. The average beach holiday is just about one week in length, at 7.7 days. Combined with results from Expedia’s Vacation Deprivation® study,  in the US, Americans spend a full 40% of their allotted vacation days at the beach. In fact, when Americans were asked to choose between spending time at the beach and spending time with family, the beach won handily.

Main Findings:

Despite the carefree nature of a sun-drenched week at the beach, beachgoers worldwide remain cost-conscious. In the US, the most important factor for 78% of beachgoers is the total trip price. The beach itself matters too – total vacation price and beach quality are the #1 and #2 criteria for travelers in 14 of the 21 countries surveyed – but the cost of the visit is the top consideration.

The Popularity of the Beach is Unsurpassed

More than half (52%) of respondents plan to holiday at the beach in the next 12 months, compared to 45% who said they took a beach vacation the year prior. And while the average stay for a beach vacation is 7.7 days, this is less true of Koreans, Japanese and Singaporeans, who seem more likely to prefer beach weekends to extended stays.

For Most Beachgoers, the Most Popular Activity is No Activity At All

Relaxing and sunbathing were among the top two activities for beachgoers across all five continents. The Irish, at 75%, were the most likely to relax, while Mexicans (79%) seem to be happiest with lying in the sun. Brazilians (40%) were likeliest to exercise on the beach; when doing so, they may well stumble over the Japanese, who were 14 times likelier to relax (28%) than exercise (2%).

Germans are Likeliest to Sunbathe Nude

Germans displayed the most permissive attitudes towards nude sunbathing. A full 15% of German respondents indicated that they sunbathed naked. Indians and Spaniards (8%) were the second-likeliest to shed their clothing, while the French (5% clothing-free) were more aligned with Americans (2%), the British (2%) and the Japanese (1%). Perhaps unsurprisingly, Germans seem to be the most popular beachgoers: when asked if they’d spent beach days with strangers, the Germans (23%) and Brazilians (19%) were likeliest to say they had.

The Flip Flop Survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Expedia.com from February 14 – March 21, 2012 among 8,599 adults, 18 and older, in the following countries: the United States (501), Canada (1,249), Mexico (400), Argentina (312), Brazil (308), United Kingdom (402), Germany (423), France (414), Italy (437), Spain (418), Norway (300), Sweden (300), Denmark (300), Ireland (300), Netherlands (300), Japan (429), India (438), South Korea (346), Singapore (321), Australia (400), and New Zealand (301).

Full Surveys Details: Expedia FLip Flop ReportTravelhorizons™ quarterly report

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