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Harris Interactive – Economic Downturn Changing the Way People Travel

People still taking vacations, but taking shorter ones – business travel less likely

From bargain hunting for accommodations to hopping in a car instead of on a plane, many individuals and companies are responding to the uncertain economic climate and worse personal financial conditions by adjusting their travel behaviors in 2009 to find more affordable ways to travel, but many aren’t eliminating travel plans altogether.

In a recent poll conducted by Harris Interactive(R), 48% of U.S. adults say their financial situation is worse now than it was one year ago. For some that is translating into plans for fewer vacations and fewer dollars spent on leisure travel in 2009.

While almost half plan to travel just as much or more in 2009 as they did in 2008, two-fifths (38%) anticipate that the economy will have no impact on their travel plans, and 8% plan to travel more in the next 12 months than they did in 2008, nearly two-fifths (37%) of consumers say they are less likely to travel within the next 12 months due to economic conditions.

Other findings from the study include:
* Over one-fourth (27%) will decrease the duration of their leisure trips.
* Four in ten (40%) will reduce the amount of money they spend on leisure trips. Among these consumers looking to cut costs:
– Roughly three-fifths will find less expensive accommodations (62%), less expensive meal options (61%), or will look for less expensive activities (58%).
– Nearly half will reduce travel expenses by vacationing closer to home (48%), staying with friends/family instead of a hotel (46%), or reduce expenses by driving rather than flying (45%).
– One-third (34%) will stretch their vacation dollars by going on a ‘staycation’ close to home or by sharing travel costs with friends or other families.

Companies are also changing their travel spending habits in 2009. Three in five (61%) people surveyed said their companies had changed their travel policies in last 12 months, and one in five (21%) said they were less likely to travel for business in 2009 than they were in 2008.

Reducing or eliminating nonessential travel was the most frequently reported method of cutting business travel expenses. Three in ten people (30%) reported that their companies had reduced or eliminated all nonessential travel, and 21% said their companies were using technology to reduce or eliminate travel costs. Other reported changes to company travel policies include encouraging day trips (13%), booking with hotels and airlines that provide preferred rates (12%), and enforcing per diem allowances (10%).

According to Allison Powell, Research Director of Harris Interactive’s Travel and Tourism practice, ‘The recent economic conditions of a declining U.S. dollar, mortgage foreclosures, and job losses are giving many consumers reason to reevaluate their vacation plans. The good news is that travelers are still taking vacations, however, the nature of their vacations has changed. From finding less expensive accommodations to taking a road trip rather than flying, consumers are finding ways to continue taking vacations. The question remains – how long will this trend last?’

This fall, Harris Interactive will release research which will provide our industry with forward-looking insights into consumer travel plans over the next twelve months.

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive from February 5 to 9, 2009 among 2,665 adults. Figures for region, age within gender, education, household income, and ethnicity were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Full data tables and methodology are available at

This article is quoted from the TourismROIAlert newsletter May 4, 2009, by Majbritt Thomsen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’.

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Posted in Market knowledge, North America, USA.

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