Unless some major terrorist incident or natural disaster happens, the year ahead will be a record one for the U.S. travel industry, according to MMGY Global’s annual “Portrait of American Travelers” survey of intention to travel.
Indeed, MMGY Global, a marketing and research firm, is predicting a record number of vacations and new highs in vacation spending among American travelers in the upcoming 12 months, according to Peter Yesawich, partner-industry insights and chairman emeritus of the company, with travelers saying they will take considerably more vacations this year than they did in 2015.
According to Yesawich, of 125 million households in the U.S., two thirds are planning at least one leisure trip that requires accommodations in the next six months and on average they will take about four trips this year. When the same households are surveyed for their business travel intentions, 35 percent say they will travel on business during the next six months, which Yesawich said is the highest ever recorded number. “The outlook is for robust leisure demand and remarkable growth for business travel,” he said.
MMGY Global asked travelers about their intention to travel more, less, or the same in the year ahead compared to the previous 12 months. Some 28 percent said they intended to take more vacations, while only 14 percent reported they plan to take fewer vacations. That’s a 14-point positive variance in the market’s intention to vacation during the next 12 months, representing a 10-year high that surpasses the previous record, a pre-recession 11-point increase in intention to travel reported in 2007 and 2008.
MMGY Global said there is even better news when its survey looks at travel spending. According to the new survey, vacation spending has now fully recovered from the years of the Great Recession. In 2010, travelers reported having spent an average of $3,874 on vacations during the previous 12 months. By 2013, that amount had risen 8 percent to $4,209. For 2016, however, travelers reported spending an average of $5,048 on vacations, a 30 percent increase from 2010, and a 12 percent increase from last year.
According to MMGY Global, news gets even better when it comes to spending intentions. In 2013, the company began asking travelers how much they intended to spend on leisure travel during the upcoming 12 months. That year travelers said they planned to spend an average of $4,198. In 2016, however, travelers say they plan to spend an average of $5,182, a 23 percent increase in only four years, and a 9 percent increase over the past year.
MMGY Global said the encouraging outlook on leisure travel intentions in its Portrait of American Travelers survey is echoed by travelhorizons, its quarterly survey of Americans’ travel intentions viewed against emerging economic, social and political developments.
Since 2007, data from that survey have been used to publish the Traveler Sentiment Index (TSI), a measure of the leading indicators for future leisure travel demand, including interest in travel, perceived safety, personal finances, affordability of travel, quality of travel services, and time available to vacation. As of the second quarter of 2016, the TSI indexed at 122, an all-time high since the measure was introduced in 2007.
“We’ve never seen a more positive outlook in past nine years,” said Yesawich. “The only thing out there that an can screw this up is a major terrorist incident. But we’ve been there before and there’s a way out of that pothole.”