Industry Update
Editorial Article28 July 2010

New Survey Reveals Emerging Travel Preferences And Intentions Of Family Travelers

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Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russel MMGY

The family market ranks as one of the most important to the travel industry, and the newly-released Ypartnership/Harrison Group 2010 Portrait of American Travelers (SM) provides an intriguing look at the changing travel habits and preferences of these leisure travelers. The survey is the most comprehensive examination of the travel behavior of Americans with an annual household income of more than $50,000.

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“Family travel” is defined as any form of leisure travel that includes children. Fully 44 percent of all leisure travelers took at least one “family vacation” last year, and it’s interesting to note that the incidence of family travel is significantly higher than the incidence of households with children (roughly one-third). This difference may be attributed to the growth in multi-generational travel as a result of the aging population.

Following is a snapshot of today’s family travelers:

  • They are equally likely to take both weekend trips (73%) of four nights or less including a Saturday, and extended trips (71%) of five consecutive nights or more;
  • Beach/lake destinations rule, selected by fully one-third (33%) of all family travelers last year; fully one out of four (26%) took a theme park vacation, and one out of ten (9%) visited an all-inclusive resort;
  • Seven out of ten (69%) took a vacation to celebrate a life event last year (a “Celebration Vacation”), with milestone birthdays and anniversaries topping the list;
  • One out of five (20%) is a grandparent, and two-thirds (67%) of those who have reached this life stage took at least one vacation with their grandchildren last year;
  • Family travelers are more likely to have taken a vacation in their local area (less than 50 miles from home) as an alternative to vacationing in a destination that would have required traveling a greater distance (aka a “Staycation”);
  • Three out of ten (31%) took a “last minute” trip last year, departing an average of just six days after deciding to take the trip;
  • All (99%) have access to the Internet at home, and practically all have gone online to get information about travel suppliers (89%) and make reservations (87%);
  • Fully nine out of ten (90%) have a page posted on Facebook, and one out of four (23%) has visited a blog to seek or preview information about a vacation destination or travel service supplier;
  • One third (32%) are interested in taking a cruise vacation during the next two years;
  • Children play an active role in planning vacations in half (48%) of all family travel households;
  • The destinations they are most interested in visiting on vacation include the Neighbor Islands of Hawaii (73%), the national parks (71%), Honolulu (69%) and Orlando (59%);
  • One out of seven (14%) is interested in purchasing a vacation home, with one out of ten (7%) interested in purchasing a timeshare;
  • Fully one out of four (24%) has stayed in a vacation home or condominium rental as an alternative to conventional hotel/resort lodging on a vacation last year.

“Not surprisingly, family travelers are also very astute ‘value travelers’ with fully one third stating they wait for products and services to go on sale before they buy,” said Peter C. Yesawich, Chairman & CEO of Ypartnership, co-author of the study. “This is just one of the reasons why approximately one out of five has planned and taken a ‘last minute’ vacation during the previous year.”

And although the Great Recession has clearly affected this group of travelers equally, if not more so, than others, fully eight out of ten (78%) family travelers say they are actually happier now than ten years ago, and they remain generally optimistic about the future, as revealed below:

  • Seven out of ten are very/extremely optimistic about the future of their children (71%) and about their own future (70%);
  • Nearly six out of ten (58%) are very/extremely optimistic about the future of the company they work for;
  • A little over half (55%) are very/extremely optimistic about the future of their job.

For more information on the new Ypartnership/Harrison Group 2010 Portrait of American Travelers (SM) please visit the Publications section of .

Ypartnership is America’s leading marketing services company serving travel, leisure and entertainment clients. The agency’s Insights group is widely acknowledged as the preeminent source of market intelligence on emerging business and leisure travel trends, as published in the Ypartnership/Harrison Group 2010 Portrait of American Travelers (SM). The firm also co-authors the quarterly travelhorizons™ survey with the U.S. Travel Association. For more information, visit .

Harrison Group is a leading market research and strategy consulting firm specializing in sophisticated market strategy, market analytics, survey and forecasting services. In addition, Harrison Group is the recognized expert in the American affluent and wealth space and also specializes in the travel, real estate, media, financial management, consumer products and interactive entertainment markets. For more information, visit .

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