Travel agents, suppliers and local economies have benefitted from an extremely prolonged period of growth over the last 8-10 years. But in the matter of a few months, two substantial surveys agree that leisure travel growth may be slowing.
Less than half of Americans (48 percent) are confident they will take a summer vacation this year, down from 51 percent last year, said Allianz Global Assistance in their 10th Annual Vacation Confidence Index.
When the survey launched in 2009, 44 percent of Americans said they were confident they would take a summer vacation, rising to 45 percent in 2010, and then journeying above the 50 percent mark for every year after, dipping to 49 percent only in 2013.
Four in ten survey respondents (41 percent) told Allianz they are not confident they will take a vacation at any point this year, leaving 48 percent confident that they will – down three points from Allianz’s 2017 survey.
According to Allianz, those who plan to take a vacation this summer expect to spend approximately $1,936, down $42 from last year’s average spend. Elsewhere in the report, 12 percent of respondents said they’ll spend more this year than last year, compared with 13 percent who said they will spend less.
As a result, this year’s projected summer vacation spend is $100.4 billion, down from $101.1 billion last summer.
“Our survey shows that we may have hit a plateau on vacation travel,” said Dan Durazo, Allianz Global Assistance USA, director of communications, “but growth likely could tick up again next year.”
Durazo thinks the survey results may be related to how Allianz defines a vacation (one week away, a hundred miles or more from home). He pointed to the rising trend of “bleisure” trips (adding a few days’ vacation to a business trip), and what he calls “quick getaways.”
“A lot of destinations have ramped up their marketing for a weekend away, so combined with bleisure, we may be finding that consumers are simply changing how they spend their vacation dollars,” he said.
Second survey to point to slowing growth
In early June, MMGY Global, a leading travel research and marketing company, released their annual Portrait of American Travelers (POAT) annual survey, finding that about 30 percent of the survey’s respondents indicated an intention to take fewer trips this year than last, while 21 percent said they would take more vacations. This 9-point negative variance in vacation intentions during the next 12 months is the first time the variance has been negative in the 12 years the question has been asked.
On average, travelers intend to spend $4,278 during the next 12 months, MMGY reported, compared with the $4,281 spent in the previous 12 months. In 2016, respondents to the survey predicted spending $4,723.
At the same time, vacation spending data indicates a continued downward trend from an eight-year high in 2016 – off 5 percent from a year ago – according to the POAT, in its 28th year, and one of the most widely respected, long-term looks at the habits of leisure travelers.
'Vacation confidence' deficit holds
Among the 58 percent of Americans who say it’s important that they get a vacation each year, 67 percent are confident that they will take one. This leaves what Allianz calls a “vacation deficit” of 21 percent of Americans who find annual vacations important but are not confident they will take one in the next 12 months. That figure is unchanged since last year.
However, in 2011, a majority (55 percent) of respondents said they typically take an annual summer vacation, “suggesting that the proportion of Americans who typically take a summer vacation has been dropping over the past decade,” Allianz said.
About half (51 percent) of Americans have not had any vacation for over a year, including four in ten (38 percent) who say it has been more than two years. Others have vacationed more recently: three in ten (29 percent) took a vacation in the past 4-12 months, and two in ten (18 percent) within the past 3 months.
Those who say annual vacations are important are significantly more likely to have taken one at any point within the past 12 months, while a majority (62 percent) of those who do not see the importance of annual vacations have not taken one in more than two years.
The Allianz survey was conducted by the Ipsos polling firm, sampling 1,005 Americans from the Ipsos I-Say panel and non-panel sources, May 2 –5, 2018, and has a plus/minus margin of error of 3.5 percentage points; followed by a live-operator telephone survey conducted via ORC Caravan from May 31 to June 3, 2018, with a margin of error of plus/minus 3.1 percentage points.