Travel Trends

Travel Survey Finds Americans Suffering from 'Vacation Deficit'

- Access America 'Vacation Confidence Index' Finds Pent-up Vacation Demand While Most Americans Say Now is a Great Time to Find Travel Deals

When someone thinks of a 'deficit,' they think of budget woes. But a new survey finds that the United States is in the throes of a serious 'vacation deficit.' According to a just-released survey of travelers, many Americans have yet to take a vacation this year, and some are not planning to take one at all, despite the high value placed on getting away with family and friends.

The Access America Vacation Confidence Index, a survey of 1,000 Americans - found that while a large majority of respondents (67%) believe that vacations are very important or important - one in four (23%) of those who place a premium on such travel are not planning to take a trip this year, even with an array of attractive deals beckoning them to hit the road. The disparity between those wanting to take a vacation and those actually taking a trip, is creating a large 'vacation deficit' among Americans and creating an opportunity for travel suppliers to woo reluctant travelers with great deals and promotions. The Vacation Confidence Index survey was conducted for Access America by Ipsos Public Affairs, a leading global survey-based market research company.

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'The Vacation Confidence Index proves what we've long assumed, that Americans love their vacations and strongly resist giving them up,' said Daniel Durazo, director of communications for Access America, which commissioned the survey. Access America is a brand of Mondial Assistance, the world's largest travel insurance provider. 'But because of likely concerns over the economy, Americans are not taking as many vacations as they would like, creating a serious 'vacation deficit,' and as a consequence, a pent-up demand for travel.'

The Vacation Confidence Index also found that Americans believe that unprecedented travel bargains are now being offered. When asked if this were a great time to find travel deals, 72 percent agreed. As for the kind of deals they would value most: 24 percent would welcome free or discounted tickets to attractions or cruises, with an equal number appreciating free hotel nights or kids-stay-free offers. Another 21 percent said they would find hotel upgrades particularly attractive.

[For the purposes of the Index, a vacation was defined as leisure travel of at least a week to a destination of at least 100 miles from home.]

At the time of the survey (July 16-20), 37 percent of respondents reported they had taken a vacation this year, while another 29 percent felt confident they would take a vacation in 2009, leaving plenty of opportunity for the travel industry to lure would-be travelers to vacation destinations. As for the best places to find travel deals, more than half (57%) of those surveyed said they would look online, either to online travel agent sites or search engines such as Google. Recommendations from friends and family and advice from traditional travel agents were other leading ways travelers hunt for vacation bargains.

The survey also found that travel industry suppliers should not overlook those who report they do not consider vacations important. According to the Access America Vacation Confidence Index, 22 percent of Americans who do not place a particular value on vacations have already taken one, while another 23 percent indicated a likelihood they will do so before year's end.

The demographic groups that placed the highest value on vacations were parents of children under 18 (73% said vacations were important), those with at least some college education (72%) and Hispanics (77%).

Survey Methodology
The survey of 1,000 randomly selected adults aged 18 and over residing in the United States was conducted by telephone July 16-20, 2009. The results are considered accurate within +/-3.1 percentage points, 19 times of our 20, of what they would have been had the entire population of adults in the U.S. been polled. These data were weighted to ensure the sample's regional and age/gender composition reflects that of the actual U.S. population according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

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