For Romance, Travel Beats Jewelry or Flowers, Says U.S. Travel Survey
by Harvey Chipkin

As Valentine’s Day approaches, new research from the U.S. Travel Association shows that travel has a very positive effect on relationships – with 63% of those surveyed saying a weekend getaway is more likely to spark romance than gifts.

The research marks the launch, according to Roger Dow, CEO of U.S. Travel, of a “multi-year, multimillion-dollar effort to demonstrate the effect that travel has on multiple areas of the lives of Americans, including business, health and education.”

Research highlights
The initial research is based on a consumer survey of 1,100 respondents conducted by an independent firm. Among highlights:

•    While almost two-thirds saw travel as way to rekindle romance, only a little more than a third saw receiving small gifs the same way; and only 15%  rated getting big gifts like jewelry as important to improving romance.

•    More than 80% of those who travel as couples say the romance is alive in their relationships.

•    Seven in 10 couples believe traveling inspires romance.

•    Nearly two in three couples say being romantic is an important reason to travel with their partners.

•    More than three quarters who travel as couples say they have a good sex life, compared to 63% who do not travel together. And 28% say their sex life improved after traveling together – and, of those, 40% say sex together is permanently better after travel.

•    Almost 60% of couples say that being more intimate is an important reason to vacation together. Among couples that did not take a trip together in the past year, nearly one in four say they do not have enough time for intimacy and sex.

Focusing on why people travel
“We’ve been talking about doing something about the travel effect for years,” Dow told Travel Market Report before the survey was released today.

“All of the focus and the marketing dollars have been by companies seeking to build share from their competitors,” he said. “No one talks about why people travel or the impact of travel.

“We began by looking into what we might know intuitively, but that should be research-based. The big picture on this first report is that people who travel more have stronger relationships. Compared to chocolates or jewelry, travel is a huge plus.”

U.S. Travel will make a big media push on this research, but its efforts are only the beginning, according to Dow. Later this year, U.S. Travel will release three research reports on the effect of travel on business, health and education – each timed to certain events like education with the opening of school in the fall.
 
Research topics
Dow also commented on how the research will address the different topics.

Business. “Does travel improve productivity, creativity and on-the-job energy? Does travel improve the chances of making a deal or finding the leading edge in our industry?”

Health. “We looked at what the wine industry did a decade or so ago when it trumpeted the health benefits of a glass of wine. We will look at how travel impacts health.”

Education. “This will be a big one. I know from my own family that kids who travel are far more likely to consider secondary education and to see that the world is more than their own communities.

“I grew up with the 3 R’s but added a fourth – roaming – for my own kids. My son went to school in London and worked in Africa, and my daughter spent a college summer in Spain. As Keith Bellows, the editor of National Geographic Traveler, has said, ‘A passport is the new diploma.’”

Non-traditional partners
U.S. Travel also plans to bring in non-traditional partners into their research, according to Dow.

“Companies like Coke and Pepsi, Boeing and Anheuser-Busch do better when people travel,” he said “We could also connect companies like Kaiser Permanente for the health research, etc.”

U.S. Travel will update and build on these four reports and also add others over the next few years, Dow said.

Talking to consumers
While U.S. Travel has been active in promoting value of travel to the government, the research reports are its first promotional push aimed at consumers, Dow said.

“We are going to raise the noise level about travel being good for your relationships, health and these other things,” he added. “We aim to drive people to travel because it is not just a nice thing to do but has all these benefits.

As for travel sellers, “they can tell clients that not only are they going someplace nice but that there are added benefits,” Dow said. “Those in the agency community who can carve out an expertise by developing value in some of these areas will benefit themselves.”

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Everybody here is kind of in a daze; nobody knows any facts and figures. But [with the value of the pound falling], it probably will be a hit to travelers leaving the country, and good for those coming.

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