Industry Update
Editorial Article23 December 2008

Ypartnership Predicts 2009 Travel Trends| Demand Still Robust but Competition Heightens

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Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russel MMGY

Orlando, Fla. | While marketers of travel services may gladly bid adieu to 2008, the year ahead promises to be equally challenging as competition for travelers heightens, according to Peter Yesawich, president and CEO of Ypartnership, America's leading marketing, advertising and public relations agency serving travel, leisure and entertainment clients.

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According to research conducted by Ypartnership, the travel intentions of Americans remain robust with 71% of active travel households planning at least one overnight trip during the next 6 months, the same as one year ago. "Our most recent tracking surveys reveal there is still plenty of demand for travel services in the marketplace for those who are aggressive and clever enough to capture it," says Yesawich.

Additional travel trends for 2009 revealed by Yesawich include:

  • Value Is King - Expect consumers to demand more in exchange for what they pay. They won't necessarily opt for the least expensive alternative, but they will shop aggressively to ensure they don't overpay for what they consider rightfully theirs in the current economic climate: a good deal. They are also more likely to purchase inclusively-priced travel services to exercise greater control over the total cost of the trip before they depart;
  • Both Vacations And Business Trips Will Get Shorter - Two thirds of active travelers who participated in the October 2008 travelhorizons(TM) survey stated that "staying fewer nights" was one of the strategies they intended to employ to manage the cost of their travel in the year ahead;
  • Consumers Will Use The Internet Differently - While the percentage of American travelers who go online to plan and purchase travel has remained essentially unchanged during the past two years (approximately two thirds), consumers are increasingly enamored of the Internet's ability to assist with comparison shopping. The growing popularity of meta search engines such as Kayak and Farecast that pull prices for competitive products and services from multiple supplier Web sites and display them in a user-friendly manner will accelerate this phenomenon;
  • Marketing Will Go Mobile - Almost eight of ten Americans own a cell phone, yet only 15% of them are Internet enabled. This percentage will rise quickly in the year ahead given the growing popularity of the iPhone(TM), Blackberry Storm(TM) and similar devices. With this growth expect more travelers to plan and purchase travel services with these devices. In fact, according to the 2008 NEXTGEN Traveler(TM) survey, fully one out of four "next generation" travelers plan to use their mobile phone or PDA to make or change travel plans (other than through voice communications) in the next two years;
  • All Vacations Are Not Created Equal - As revealed in a survey of over 4,000 adults conducted by Ypartnership for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, vacations are increasingly perceived as an appropriate way to recognize certain life events (e.g. anniversaries, school graduations, retirement, etc.). Vacations taken to celebrate life events tend to be special by practically every measure: they are planned further in advance, budgeted at a higher amount, longer in duration, and include more people in the traveling party. Fully seven out of ten adults have taken a "Celebration Vacation" before, insight which inspired one of next year's most innovative promotional offers: free admission to any Walt Disney park on your birthday in 2009. For more information about Disney Celebration Vacations, click here;
  • Travel Agent Usage Will Continue To Rise - Travel agents are not down for the count. On the contrary, fully three out of ten American travelers use the services of a travel agent on a regular basis, and this percentage is growing for two reasons: 1) many travelers now place a higher value on the time it would take to pick through multiple Web sites to find the best options/prices than the fee they have to pay an agent to do the work for them, and 2) consumers see agents as "in the know" and a potential source of otherwise unadvertised deals (of great interest when value is king);
  • Going Green Is Good For Business - Although most Americans are unfamiliar with the term "carbon footprint," fully 85% consider themselves to be "environmentally conscious." An impressive four out of ten now state they would consider shifting their patronage to a travel service supplier that demonstrates environmental responsibility. Most, however, are not willing to pay a premium fare or rate to green suppliers as they expect them to be good stewards of the environment in which they operate;
  • Diversity Awaits Discovery - Two thirds of Americans are non-Hispanic whites, yet this percentage will decline to 50% by the year 2043 and become the minority (46%) by the year 2050. At that time, Hispanics will represent 30% of all Americans. African Americans will represent 13%, and the Asian population will represent 8%. Hence, diversity represents a powerful market force, and one that will gain considerably more recognition in the year ahead given the recent election of President-elect Obama.

There will be no shortage of challenges in 2009, according to Yesawich. "But the year ahead is also one that holds great opportunity for those who amend their marketing practices to reflect the manner in which consumers live, work and travel today."

Ypartnership is America's leading marketing, advertising and public relations agency serving travel, leisure and entertainment clients and coauthor of the widely acclaimed National Travel MONITOR(SM) with Yankelovich, Inc. Headquartered in Orlando, the agency maintains additional offices in New York, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Vancouver, Mexico City and London. For more information on the proprietary market insights available through Ypartnership, visit .

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