U.S. Traveler is Cautiously Optimistic

A Deloitte survey on November-March travel plans suggests optimism and moderation by U.S. travelers.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Deloitte’s survey of 2,000 consumers in the United States revealed that almost half (45 percent) will take a vacation or leisure trip that involves staying overnight in a lodging facility, such as a hotel, motel or a timeshare, from the beginning of Thanksgiving week through March of next year. Additionally, the survey showed:
* 18 percent will travel overnight and stay at a lodging facility during the Thanksgiving week and weekend
* 22 percent will travel overnight and stay at a lodging facility during December through New Year’s Day
* 32 percent will travel overnight and stay at a lodging facility after New Year’s Day through March

When asked to compare their overnight travel plans for the same time period a year ago, 45 percent of respondents said they will take the same amount of trips this year involving an overnight stay at a lodging facility, while 25 percent said they will take more and 28 percent said they will take fewer trips.

“Conditions appear to be stabilizing in the travel industry as signs of an economic recovery take hold. Room rates are still low, which is impacting revenue, but consumers are finding special offers and incentives on hotel accommodations which is helping to increase occupancy,” said Adam Weissenberg, U.S. Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure leader, Deloitte LLP.

Weissenberg added, “Hotel companies should continue focusing on driving demand and building long-term customer relationships with their guests through innovative marketing and loyalty programs. When business travel gets back on track, the industry will see further improvement leading to a more complete recovery.”

Survey results also suggest that some respondents may still have concerns about economic conditions, with 64 percent saying they are more cost-conscious when traveling. With the economy only in the early stages of a turnaround, respondents appear to remain cautious and are fairly evenly divided on spending plans. More than a third (35 percent) report they will spend less this year; 37 percent expect to spend the same amount; and 27 percent plan to spend more money while traveling. As might be expected, those planning on spending less were younger, with lower incomes, and more likely to have children in the household.

“This season, spending likely won’t return to levels that the industry enjoyed prior to the recession, but some segments of the population are showing more confidence in the economy,” said Weissenberg. “This could lead to some improvement over the near-term for hospitality companies and restaurants and should translate to improved long-term conditions as the economy strengthens further.”

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