Destination Analysts’ leading study of US leisure travelers, The State of the American Traveler, is published every six months and reviews the travel intentions, interests, visitor behavior and media usage of American travelers. Miles has been the primary sponsor of the research since its inception in 2007. The July 2014 report includes an update of the infographic that illustrates the use of media by different generations of American Travelers, plus a new table that looks at the travel motivations of Millennials (Gen Y), Gen X and Baby Boomers.
Four key takeaways from this report:
- Travel Sentiment and Intentions Remain Upbeat. With the continuing recovery from the global financial crisis, 30% expect to travel more, 10% less and 60% of Americans expect to travel the same in 2014-2015 as in the past 12 months. However, travel intentions are like much of the economy: at two speeds, with the top 20% of income earners extremely positive about travel—including international travel—and the middle class still cautious. Takeaway: Destinations and businesses successfully targeting the affluent traveler are enjoying real strength.
- Print Remains Strong. Print usage in travel planning has risen close to 50% of American leisure travelers and the use of DMO print visitor guides has risen to just over 20%. While this rise may not signal any longer term trend there is clearly no evidence of a long term decline in print or DMO guide usage. The State of the American Traveler (which is independent research, of course) has consistently shown strength and even slow growth in print usage over the last five years. Takeway: Print is not dead—or even showing signs of decline in travel planning use—but its purpose, content, distribution and how it integrates with digital platforms (especially mobile) is rapidly changing. Print needs to evolve to remain relevant.
- Millennials Define Themselves. Mobile centric, urban, seeking authenticity, interesting cuisine and cultural experiences are terms that describe Millennial travelers (teens to age 30 or so). They are also the most ethnically diverse and liberal (on social issues) of any US generation to date. Gen Y (Millennials) are as numerous as Baby Boomers and, of course, the future of travel. Takeaway: Destinations seeking younger travelers need to take a closer look at their specific needs and tailor their content, marketing and media to this new audience. More rural- or nature-based destinations face particular challenges.
- Millennials Love Digital AND Print. Finally, good news for our publishing solutions. Despite 72%+ of Millennials using smartphones in trip planning (vs. only 26% of Baby Boomers) they are just as likely to use print overall, almost as likely as Baby Boomers to order an official print guide and more likely to visit a DMO website. Takeaway: Multimedia—indeed, “Masses of Media”—is critical for reaching and engaging with younger US travelers.