While the affluent are spending more, they are less interested in cruising than ever before.
This is the message based on data from the American Affluence Research Center’s Spring 2013 report, a bi-annual survey of the wealthiest 10% of U.S. households.
Travel Market Report spoke with Ron Kurtz, president and founder of the American Affluence Research Center, to find out more about how the spending habits of affluent consumers will influence travel agents in 2013.
What are the major travel trends from your data?
Kurtz: Plans to cruise during the next year went down; we’re at a low point in terms of the historical readings we’ve had for planning a cruise. It may have been because of negative publicity from Carnival malfunctions. Some travel agents are saying there is some weakness in Wave Season bookings. There was also a sizable undecided group who haven’t made a decision about planning a cruise.
Are affluent consumers traveling more or less than in previous years?
Kurtz: Plans for the affluent to change their spending on domestic vacations were slightly positive, and plans to change spending for international vacations were basically in neutral territory. So changes in spending seem to be a relatively positive factor among the affluent.
Are affluent travelers booking online or using travel agents?
Kurtz: We had some questions about bookings and online research. When we compared these questions 10 years ago in 2003, we didn’t see much change in research being done online. We saw a very sizable increase in bookings being made online. While the affluent were already comfortable researching online, they’ve become much more comfortable making purchases online.
Overall, will wealthier Americans continue to spend on leisure activities?
Kurtz: People are saying they’ll maintain their spending level; we’re not seeing big changes either way. The results are similar to what we found in our Fall 2012 survey, and the main reason for that is most respondents felt they were going to be maintaining or improving their net worth. Net worth is usually a better indicator of wealth than income, and 75% said their net worth after taxes will be the same or a little higher.