The State of the American Traveler Expands Its View of U.S. Leisure Travelers

Head of Research and Insights
Published 8/5/13
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The State of the American Traveler Report has refined and deepened its research into the trends, behavior and media use of America’s leisure travelers. The bi-annual research study, conducted by Destination Analysts, has doubled its sample size to over 2,000 randomly selected U.S. leisure travelers and added an impactful look at how different generations of American travelers use media.

The latest July 2013 edition was released at DMAI’s Annual Conference.  Miles has been the major sponsor of this leading research report since 2007 - and worked closely with Destination Analysts in these enhancements. Click here to download the four-page summary of the July 2013 State of the American Traveler summary report. 

The larger sample size makes it possible for Destination Analysts to segment and report more accurately on smaller groups of travelers (eg: specific generations or types of travelers) and to work with Miles on creating custom reports for destinations of a far wider range of size. 

As part of this expanded reporting, the July edition takes a closer look at how different generations of travelers (from Millennials to Generation X to Baby Boomers) use media and travel information in different, and similar, ways. The information is presented in a compelling infographic in the summary report (see right). 

The July 2013 State of the American Traveler highlighted some important and mainly positive trends in leisure travel in the USA.

Here are six key highlights:

  • Travel intentions of U.S. leisure travelers continues to strengthen with the most positive sentiment for future travel since before the Great Financial Crisis in early 2008. Travel firms can hopefully look towards a strengthening travel market for late 2013 and early 2014 - however, consumer confidence remains cautious and could be significantly impacted by financial news or actions (or inaction) by Congress on U.S. Government spending in the coming months.
  • Travelers actively looking for travel deals and bargains has continued to soften - now back to pre-GFC levels at 50% of travelers. Discounting should be re-evaluated to ensure it is a smart part of yield management.
  • The percentage of U.S. leisure travelers using smartphones in their trip planning has plateaued at around 40% of U.S. Travelers over the last 12 months after tripling between 2010 - 2012.
  • Not surprisingly, Millennials are far more likely to use smartphones in trip planning - at over 50% - with Baby Boomers at less than one third that level of use (see close-up visual below).

  • The use of print publications in travel planning in fact increased between 2009 and 2012 and remains in the mid 40% of U.S. leisure travelers - this is despite the rise of mobile and other digital channels (eg: social media). Travelers are using more media - online and offline - in their travel planning than at any previous time.
  • The continued strength of print includes use of official destination visitor guides by travelers, which has remained consistent at 10-15% of all U.S. leisure travelers over the last 4-5 years. Surprisingly, the use of official visitor guides in July 2013 is similar across the generations - with fairly consistent proportions of both Millennials and Baby Boomers accessing these print publications.