Now in its 28th year of surveying various aspects of American’s emerging travel habits, preferences and intentions, MMGY Global’s 2018-2019 Portrait of American Travelers finds that travelers are seeking more meaningful vacations, not more of them. The study reveals that travelers could take up to six million fewer vacations in 2018 than 2017, while overall spending will remain relatively flat through 2019.
“The key takeaway in this year’s survey is that travelers report taking fewer vacations but intend to spend the same [amount of vacation] time as they did in 2017,” says Steve Cohen, senior v.p. of travel insights at MMGY Global. “By spending more than average per trip in the coming year, we believe travelers will place even more significance on where they choose to go and what activities they participate in while there.”
Portrait also notes that despite intending to take fewer vacations, travelers have the same number of destinations on their wish lists in 2018 as in 2017: 36.
According to the study, the relative bright spot in an otherwise flat market is the Millennial family traveler, the largest segment of this generational group—couples with children under 18, and as the study noted last year, these families intend to spend more on vacations in the coming year than the previous one. In addition, not only are families the largest segment of the Millennial generation, but each of these households spent and intends to spend significantly more on leisure travel than their single or couple counterparts.
In considering generational differences in travel, although Millennials are the only generation to report intention to increase their spending, it is Matures who are still the biggest spenders. At the same time, the study reports that Matures registered the largest drop (13 percent over last year) in future vacation intentions.
As part of the Portrait study, MMGY will be releasing three additional research reports, which, while backing up the expectation that travel will remain flat for the year ahead, Cohen points out that “there are segments to focus on with important spending power.”
• Food Travel: We all know that food is a leading travel motivator—81 percent of travelers find experiencing local customs and cuisines desirable, while 70 percent are actually motivated to vacation in order to experience new cuisines. Portrait further documents that finding authentic and new food experiences top the culinary wish lists, and notes that true “Culinary Explorers” are almost twice as interested in local, hard-to-find dishes (61 percent) as they are eating at Michelin-starred restaurants. Further, these Explorers spend more than $5,000 a year per household on travel, 16 percent higher than the overall travel-intended spending average. Survey participants listed Honolulu, the Florida Keys, Washington D.C., New Orleans and Boston among their top picks for future foodie vacations in the U.S.
• Changes in the Sharing Economy Services Market: Made up of approximately 24.6 million traveling households, this market represents 41 percent of traveling Americans who went on a combined 91.2 million vacations and spent $132.1 billion on leisure travel during 2017. The report finds that 41 percent of homesharing (i.e. AirBnB, VRBO) and 47 percent of ridesharing (i.e. Uber, Lyft) travelers are not Millennials as would be expected, but rather the median age is 40. Further, sales seem to be slowing. For example, 75 percent of current home-sharing travelers intend to use homesharing again on vacations this year, while last year that likelihood was 86 percent and in 2016 was 90 percent. Among ridesharing travelers, concerns seem to be mounting on quality and experience, as only 69 percent of current ridesharers say they’re likely to use this service again on this year’s vacations, while last year the intent was 88 percent.
Data for MMGY’s Portrait of American Travelers survey, collected in February 2018, embraces 2,902 U.S. adults, who have taken at least one overnight trip of 75 miles or more from home during the previous 12 months; it includes 2,013 households with an annual income between $50,000 and $124,000, 725 households with an annual income between $125,000 and $249,000, and 184 households with an annual income of more than $250,000.
For more information about these insights or to subscribe to the 2018-2019 MMGY Global Portrait white papers, visit mmgyglobal.com.