A time-strapped traveling public is changing how they travel
There has been a lot of tourism industry press about the increase in shorter trips and last-minute travel planning. What started as a curious trend just a few years ago has become a sustained shift in how Americans are planning their vacations and spending their vacation time. There is an emerging shift in the way Americans not only travel, but how they view their time and resources. It is more than just a live-in-the-moment psychology at work. There are some real financial and social realities that are helping to shape traveler habits:
- Uncertain economy – The overall wealth of individual American households is about 15% lower than it was before the recession. That alone could account for why Americans are reluctant to make long-term plans or go far from home. It also makes Americans more receptive to travel deals.
- Continued increase in use of Internet for travel planning – When you want to know about a place, you simply look it up online and learn all about it. Travel inklings can quickly become planned vacations.
- Gen X and Gen Y with different travel planning habits – The rise of Gen X and Gen Y consumers has been a major force in fueling the trend towards last-minute travel planning. Conversely, older travel segments, like Baby Boomers, have shown to be holding to more traditional travel planning habits. For example, a recent study found that nearly 80% of Baby Boomer females are “advanced” travel planners, tending to have their entire year of travel planned by the middle of January.
Many travel industry professionals are already changing how they market their businesses and destinations. There is an increase in email marketing to consumers. CVBs and other destination marketing organizations are actively marketing overnight packages and last-minute specials. Destination websites are being further developed to not only provide complete travel planning information, but to capture last-minute travel dollars by offering more ways visitors can book trips online.
The upshot for the tourism industry is this: Don’t wait until the last minute to pay attention to last-minute travelers.