Last updated: 12:22 PM ET, Thu October 31 2013

New Survey Shows More Americans Plan to Travel for the Holidays

Destination & Tourism | Thea Klapwald | October 21, 2013

New Survey Shows More Americans Plan to Travel for the Holidays

More U.S. adults intend to travel between now and January 2014, according to the latest travel horizons survey of 2,300 active travelers conducted by marketing services firm MMGY Global. According to the survey, six in 10 U.S. adults (59 percent) expect to take at least one leisure trip between now and January, compared with five in 10 (53 percent) at the same time last year:

The percentage of U.S. adults planning to take at least one leisure trip during the next six months was six points higher than recorded in July 2012 (53 percent), and three points higher than in pre-recession Aug 2007.

In addition, the overall Traveler Sentiment Index (TSI) continued to climb in July 2013, coming within 1.2 points of the March 2007 base of 100. The TSI, which is tracked every calendar quarter since March 2007, is a derivative of six factors that measure Americans’ attitudes toward travel and serves as a predictor of travel behavior during the coming six months. TSI calculations use the March 2007 score of 100 as a benchmark. A score above 100 means the corresponding perception is more positive, while a score below 100 reflects a more negative perception.

In more good news, the survey also revealed the perceived affordability of travel (121.9) displayed almost a 14-point increase over April 2013 (108.2) and was close to the record level set in July 2009 (124.0). The perceived quality of service (103.3) provided by travel service suppliers also surpassed 100 for only the third time since March 2007, and was three points above the April score (100.4).

The perceived safety of travel in the U.S. (95.5) increased four points since July 2012 and has rebounded seven points since in April 2013 (88.3).

On the other hand, the perceived interest in travel (96.9) dropped six points from April (103.2) and time for travel (93.5) fell three points from a score of 96.7 in April. But these declines were offset by the increases in the other factors, thereby resulting in the overall positive increase (up one point) from April (97.6).

“Consumer spending intentions for the upcoming holiday season are consistent with the patterns we have observed in earlier travelhorizons survey and other recent survey work,” said Steve Cohen, vice president, insights for MMGY Global. “Although leisure travelers will continue to watch their spending and look for the best deals possible, these data suggest that the recovery experienced by the travel industry during the past 18 months will extend well into 2014.”

The survey also tracks changes in customer satisfaction with the services provided by four category suppliers: airlines, lodging companies, rental car companies and cruise lines. All four travel service supplier category scores improved compared to April 2013, with increases of 20 points for the airline industry (107.2), 18 points for cruise lines (119.6), nine points for rental car companies (122.2) and seven points for lodging companies.

In addition, among the 29 financial factors measured in the survey that influence demand for travel services, concerns decreased for 21. The factors that decreased most significantly (all down five points to July 2012) included “meltdown of the U.S. economy,” cited by 47 percent of respondents and down 11 points from July 2011; “expectation of making less money this year” (44 percent) down 12 points from July 2011; ”expectation that I or spouse/partner will lose my job” (43 percent) down 12 points from July 2011; “possible increase in monthly mortgage payments” (42 percent) down seven points; and “possible increase in my personal tax obligation” (43 percent).

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