Travel Leaders Survey Names Vegas, Maui, Orlando as Top Destinations
By James Shillinglaw
September 04, 2012 2:59 PM
Travel Leaders Group unveiled its annual fall travel trends survey of its travel agency members, which showed that Las Vegas, Maui and Orlando are the top destinations booked for fall. Indeed, Maui was named the second most popular domestic destination for the remainder of the year, bumping Orlando to number three.
In last year's Travel Leaders survey, Maui was the top recommended domestic destination by Travel Leaders agents. According to 2012 data for travel between Sept. 1 and the end of the year, consumers seem to be heeding that advice, as Maui jumped three spots to rank second behind Las Vegas. Internationally, Caribbean cruising and Cancun continue to be the most popular destinations. Meanwhile, Mediterranean cruising ranks third and European river cruising has cracked the Top 10 among all international "destinations."
In terms of domestic destinations, Travel Leaders agents said the most popular were, in order, Las Vegas (44 percent), Maui (37.8 percent), Orlando (35.2 percent), New York City (29 percent), Honolulu (26.6 percent), San Francisco (15.4 percent), Washington, D.C. (12.9 percent), Chicago (12.6 percent), Los Angeles (11.9 percent) and Fort Lauderdale (11 percent).
For international destinations, Cruise Caribbean at 44.8 percent was the top response, followed by Cancun (32.6 percent), Cruise Europe (Mediterranean) (26.4 percent), Playa del Carmen/Riviera Maya (24.1 percent), Rome (21.1 percent), London (20.7 percent), Punta Cana, D.R. (17.5 percent), Montego Bay (Jamaica) (15.3 percent), Paris (14.8 percent), and Cruise Europe Rivers (11.3 percent).
"Based on our survey data, it is abundantly clear that savvy travelers -- heeding the advice of our travel professionals – are taking advantage of 'shoulder season' in Europe,” said Barry Liben, CEO of Travel Leaders Group. “In fact, one of the hottest trends in cruising, as well as international travel, is European river cruising because the smaller, more intimate ships are able to make stops in the heart of charming European cities and towns.
The survey also showed the average amount clients are spending per person on an airline ticket for the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, the Caribbean, Mexico and Europe. When asked: "What is the average cost per airline ticket, per person you are booking for clients within the (U.S.) continental 48?" 73.6 percent of Travel Leaders agents selected $300-499, while 12.6 percent indicated $500-599. When asked: "What is the average cost per airline ticket per person you are booking for clients to Alaska?" 59.3 percent of agents stated $600-899. When asked: "What is the average cost per airline ticket, per person you are booking for clients to Hawaii?" 56.3 percent of those polled indicated $700-999, while 21.2 percent indicated less than $700.
When asked: "What is the average cost per airline ticket, per person you are booking for clients to the Caribbean?" 52.4 percent of agents selected $500-699 while 15.4 percent said $700-799. When asked: "What is the average cost per airline ticket, per person you are booking for clients to Mexico?" 61.3 percent of agents polled said $400-599. In Europe, however, fares appear to be much higher. When asked: "What is the average cost per airline ticket, per person you are booking for clients to Europe?" 53.3 percent of agents indicated $1,000-1,299.
Also important in the survey findings, 80.9 percent of Travel Leaders travel agents said year-to-date bookings are the same or better than at this time in 2011. When asked to compare overall 2012 travel bookings so far to 2011 at this time last year, a majority (52.1 percent) of Travel Leaders agents said that their bookings are higher, 28.8 percent said that they are about even when compared to a year ago, while 19.1 percent said bookings are lower. When asked about their personal outlook for their business for the remainder of 2012, 74.3 percent of Travel Leaders agents said they were optimistic, compared with 71.3 percent in 2011 and 73.5 percent in 2010 and 59.5 percent in 2009. For 2012, 18.3 percent said they were neither pessimistic nor optimistic, while just 7.4 percent said they were pessimistic.
"What is most encouraging from an industry perspective is that eight out of every 10 agents polled indicate their business is on par or better than last year at this time,” said Liben. “That says that our clients have the peace-of-mind to go explore -- both close to home and internationally -- despite the uncertainty in economic markets domestically and in Europe.”
The survey was conducted by Travel Leaders Group from July 30 to Aug. 23, 2012, and includes responses from 871 U.S.-based Travel Leaders travel agency owners, managers and frontline travel agents, along with -- for the first time ever -- those affiliated with Travel Leaders Group's Luxury Travel Network, Nexion, Results! Travel, Tzell Travel Group and Vacation.com units.