We’re heading into the 2017 summer travel season with warm weather, great destinations, and some interesting developments and insights. What is in store when it comes to where people travel to, how long they stay there and why? Many travel industry analysts are expecting a downturn in summer travel spending this year with less than $100 billion spent overall (a 66% decline from last year).
Hotel owners, major airlines, fast food operators and restaurant owners will all be impacted by this downturn. But for North American travelers there may be a silver lining to this dark cloud.
The downturn forecast is not all doom and gloom. There is room to take advantage of the downturn as summer travel trends point to a few areas where travelers to North American destinations may be able to stretch their dollars.
Summer Travel And The Big Three Holidays
While the overall number of travelers is expected to be lower this summer season, Adobe Digital Insights (ADI) is forecasting that the big three holidays will still be in play in terms of being high volume and revenue producing days this year.
The major holidays and dates being:
- Memorial Day weekend (May 27th, 28th, and 29th, 2017)
- Independence Day (July 4th, 2017)
- Labor Day weekend (September 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, 2017)
All three of which Adobe Analytics expects to bring in nearly $10 billion in revenue for the travel industry.
What Drives People To Travel?
A survey conducted of 2,000 working consumers in the U.S. found that many are driven by new experiences when traveling. As millennials age and become a bigger part of the market, they are changing the shape of the industry. Most would rather spend on a new experience than having something tangible. For those that are 35 years and older, fifty-seven percent said that they, too, desire new experiences when traveling.
Opting For Weekend Getaways To See Friends And Family
While new experiences are sought, as most travel surveys are showing, there is still strong interest in connecting to loved ones. According to a recent summer travel trends survey by global travel deals publisher Travelzoo, eighty-five percent of respondents cited “visiting family and friends” as the primary reason they are taking their long weekend vacation this year.
According to the survey, Americans are planning a lot of long weekend getaways this season. That means increased travel traffic during late June to early July as well as late August to early September.
Most travelers are going three or more hours away from their hometown for their long weekend vacations. A majority will be using a car, but for those going five or more hours from home, plane travel will be the preferred mode of transportation.
However, most notable of all responses (from a Travelzoo survey earlier this year), is that the travelers’ primary concern this summer travel season is security. Many are reluctant to travel to certain destinations and seventy-two percent responded that they would be willing to pay more if it meant added security.
Sojern Global Travel Insights
The Sojern Global Travel Insights Report for 2017 is out and finds that the top five travel destinations in North America this summer are Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, Orlando, and New York City. Over sixty percent of travelers are going by themselves while a quarter is going with someone else, and only about twelve percent of travelers plan on going as a party of three or more.
Fewer Foreign Travelers Expected In America
Just in the first quarter of this year, international travelers have decreased by six percent. This trend has correlated with the rising dollar, which is up nearly seven percent from April 2016 to March 2017.
Some experts are citing some confusion regarding President Trump’s proposed travel ban, but this has been blocked by federal judges thus far. So, while some international travelers may be avoiding the U.S. due to political developments, the big issue seems to be the rising dollar.
Online bookings for car rentals are down fourteen percent year over year, but this could also translate into more travelers deciding to use ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber.
What Does This Mean For Domestic Travelers In The U.S.?
Just because international travel is looking light, does not mean it should negatively impact domestic travel and travel experiences. Domestic travelers in the U.S. can expect a few things this summer travel season:
- According to Sojern’s travel insights report, London, Orlando, Chicago, and Seattle are on top for travel destinations this summer. Seattle is new to the top tier international cities as a top summer destination.
- North Americans are planning on longer trips this June with the majority opting for vacations of twelve days and over. If you’re one of them, make sure your trip upgrades and packages are optimized for trips of this length or more.
- As summer begins and school gets out, families are deciding to depart for their vacations either at the beginning of June or at the end of the month (prior to the big Fourth of July rush). There’s no time to lose: book your travel plans now.
As you can see, it’s best to seize the opportunity to purchase your airfare and lodging right away before bookings are filled up. Not only that, but the best deals are available for early buyers.
Buying Airfare And Booking Lodging
The best time to purchase your airfare, according to the Adobe study, is between 76 and 112 days prior to departure for domestic flights. For international flights, the optimal time to purchase is 125 days in advance. Saturday trips are often 11% less but expect to pay that much more if you’re traveling on a Monday at the beginning of a week.
Be prepared to book 33 days prior to arrival for your lodging to lock in the lowest price. Visit hotel websites directly to check for exclusive deals.
Surprising Domestic Destinations On The Horizon
If you’re planning on staying in the country this summer travel season, consider the top five destinations as reported by the global travel insights analysts. Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, Orlando, and New York City. Now, while these places may be crowded at the height of the season, you may want to head to one and then go to nearby destinations such as Philadelphia when you visit places like New York.
When heading to New York, there are plenty of nearby destinations that are less crowded and offer great luxury alternatives. Philadelphia is only under two hours’ drive away and little over an hour by train. One of the premier travel destinations on the east coast, the great city of Philadelphia offers world-class entertainment, accommodations, and an amazing offering of museums and Colonial historical sites.
Seize Travel Opportunities Early
While the overall trend is for a slower travel season this year, for travelers, this translates into some great opportunities if they seize them early. As we approach one of the major holidays soon, we will start to see if the trends are heading in the predicted direction. Major holidays (Memorial Day Weekend, 4th of July and Labor Day Weekend) will still be busy but expect far fewer foreign travelers as the rising dollar and political changes threaten to disrupt the previous trend of foreign travelers visiting our shores.