NEW YORK, May 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Slightly more Americans will be hitting the highways, skyways, railways and waterways over the Memorial Day weekend and holiday this year as compared to 2010, but higher transportation and leisure costs will influence their travel plans, according to a new survey from Deloitte.
The Deloitte survey reveals a slight uptick for expected Memorial Day travel as 22 percent of respondents plan on taking a leisure trip, compared with the 19 percent who ventured out over the same period last year. As for the remainder of the summer months, nearly half (45 percent) of the survey respondents expect to take a trip between June 1 and Labor Day, Sept. 5, which is relatively flat compared with those who travelled a year ago (46 percent). Furthermore, this year nearly one-third (30 percent) of the expected travelers plan to spend more money on this year's summer trips than they did last year, while two in five (41 percent) plan to spend the same amount.
"Although industry data show overall levels of leisure travel are still below levels seen prior to the recession, our latest survey indicates that in 2011, consumers are more willing to spend on summer trips than last year," says Adam Weissenberg, vice-chairman, Deloitte LLP and U.S. tourism, hospitality and leisure sector leader. "However, with spiking gas prices, airfare costs and hotel rates, as well as ongoing financial concerns, summer vacationers may tweak their travel plans."
Fuel and Air Travel Top Concerns
Financial concerns and higher gas prices are the catalyst for many respondents opting out of travelling this year, according to the survey. The top reasons respondents give for not taking an overnight leisure trip? More than one-quarter (27 percent) cite lingering financial concerns while 18 percent point to high gas prices – a number that almost doubled from last year's survey (10 percent). Higher fuel prices are not only prompting some would-be travelers to cancel their trips, but are also leading almost six out of 10 Memorial Day weekend travelers to modify or scale down their plans to offset the increased gas expense.
Concerns surrounding air travel also have some consumers altering their vacation plans, though most are not canceling plans altogether. Among the 67 percent of respondents who say they've noticed an increase in airline fees, only 14 percent have changed their summer travel destination or cancelled their summer flight altogether. Additionally, more than one-quarter (26 percent) of survey respondents are looking into alternative means of travel other than flying due to higher airfares, additional airline or government fees, and/or security issues at airports.
"With additional costs hitting consumers in the air and at the pump, leisure travelers have no choice but to allocate additional funds towards transportation," added Weissenberg. "In turn, they are looking to cut costs in other areas by choosing a vacation spot closer to home or curtailing spending on food and local activities."
Lodging Comfort Mainstay for Travel Spending
According to the survey, more than one-third (35 percent) of respondents currently belong to a loyalty program. Those who do belong to loyalty programs most value the ability to earn free night(s) quickly (63 percent), complimentary breakfast (52 percent), and flexible check-in/check-out times (45 percent).
"While hotel companies have had success in attracting business travelers to loyalty programs, an area that needs more focus is catering to leisure travelers. One way hotels can differentiate their offering and encourage brand loyalty among today's value-oriented consumer is to provide additional complimentary services and amenities," says Weissenberg.
The specific amenities general leisure travelers care about most when choosing a hotel are free breakfast (60 percent), free parking (48 percent) and free wireless Internet access (39 percent). Additionally, more than one-third of consumers (35 percent) say they're more likely to rely on online recommendations and comments from others than on marketing messages from hotels when deciding on a lodging facility.
Use of Technology
Deloitte also surveyed respondents on their use of technology to access travel options. More than half (55 percent) have performed various travel-related activities online, including booking hotels or flights, researching reviews/recommendations or going to limited-time sale sites for travel deals. Among those who own a web-enabled mobile device, 24 percent have used a hotel application.
About the Survey
The survey was commissioned by Deloitte and conducted online by an independent research company between April 15 and April 16, 2011. The survey polled a nationally representative sample of 1,000 consumers and has a margin of error of +/- three percentage points.
As used in this document, "Deloitte" means Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.