Last updated: 09:00 AM ET, Mon July 04 2016

Portrait of American Travelers: What Do Travel Agents Need to Know?

Travel Agent | Lisa Iannucci | July 04, 2016

Portrait of American Travelers: What Do Travel Agents Need to Know?

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If you’re in the business of selling travel, one of the most important things to know is who you are selling it to. What makes up the American traveler – who they are, where they want to go – is constantly shifting. While it’s impossible to know everything about travelers, we can look to MMGYs Portrait of American Travelers report and see a pretty clear picture emerge through all the data points.

The big takeaway for travel agents is that travelers are coming back to agents in a steadily growing pace. And it’s the younger generation of travelers who are leading the charge.

Although 43 percent of travelers said that the most convenient way to book their next trip is through an online travel agency (OTA), the number of travelers who are booking through traditional travel agents has grown slightly from 5 percent to 12 percent over the last few years. Almost all of those who used a travel agent said that it was because of their intimate knowledge of the destinations. Millennials will be tapping into that knowledge the most, as 39 percent said they would use a traditional travel agent for their next trip over the next two years.

The average spending on travel has grown 13 percent over the last 12 months and millennials are spending less money than Gen Xers, Boomers and Matures, but yet they want to travel more. These are just a few of the many facts that the report uncovered in their study, which was completed this past February when 2,948 active leisure travelers were interviewed for the report.

These subjects had an annual household income of $50,000 or more (815 of whom had an annual household income of $125,000 or more); and had taken at least one leisure trip of 75 miles or more from home during the previous 12 months that required overnight accommodations.

These travelers are spending more money on vacations — $5,048 today compared to $4,209 in 2013 — but interestingly, the amount of trips that they are taking hasn’t changed, 3.8 in 2013 to 3.6 in 2016. The travelers admitted that the reason they aren’t going on more trips is due to their budget, even though they have a higher-than-average income. An increasing number of travelers also said they can’t get time off of work compared to 2013.

Breaking these travelers down by generation, the study found that millennials spent $4,832 over the last 12 months on vacations, while matures spent $6,112 over the same time period. However, while only 18 percent of matures and 25 percent of Gen Xers plan on taking more vacations in the next 12 months, a whopping 45 percent of millennials plan on hitting the road.

Pet-friendly hotels might want to take notice that many of these same millennial travelers have pets (69 percent) and more than half of them want to travel with Fido or Kitty. 

Family friendly hotels will love that children also have an impact on travel, as 77 percent of those questioned have children who influence where the family will go on vacation. On top of that, the kids aren’t just traveling with mom and dad. About 42 percent of grandparents traveled with their grandchildren during the last year and 33 percent said they will take more vacations with the little ones.

Now we know how the travelers are booking and who is going on vacation, but where are they going? This study shows that the most popular vacation spot is not some fancy far away destination, but it’s visiting friends and family. Almost half say that this is their favorite place to go. They haven’t given up on the beach though because 37 percent said that dipping their toes in the sand was their second favorite type of destination spot.

Vacationers are also staying closer to home too as 78 percent traveled to a domestic destination in the last year and California and Florida were the number 1 and 2 desired spots to visit respectively. And 43 percent stayed even closer to home as they enjoyed a staycation during their time off.

Once they arrive where they are going, three-quarters of those surveyed still prefer a hotel over any other type of accommodation.

Fortunately, more than half of the travelers (54 percent) do come back feeling relax after vacation and 36 percent were eager to travel again. 


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