Trends Report – June 2006: FTFc finds family travel is up within the United States, from Americans vacationing domestically and foreigners visiting the U.S. with children in tow.
Here's a snapshot of how the travel business is doing, from FTFc, Family Travel Forum's consulting division. In our June 2006 analysis, we can see that 2005 was a better year overall than 2004, with more travelers moving around and spending more money. Some highlights:
There are more foreign tourists coming to the US.
– There is less international travel by Americans.
– There is more crowding on domestic air routes due to fewer flights and smaller planes.
– Travel costs are increasing due to higher fuel and labor costs; consumers are paying.
– Multi-generational travel is increasing because aging Boomers have better health and finances.
Who's Traveling This Year?
International Travel All Ages
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, total international travel and tourism "exports" (receipts from visitors to the US) reached $104.8 billion in 2005. This represents a 12% increase in travel exports over 2004, twice the growth rate of travel "imports" (payments made by Americans traveling abroad) during the same time period.
International Travel All Ages (continued)
International family travel specifically is on the increase, according to 57% of the agents polled in the American Express Travel survey, with about half citing cruises as the means of transport. The top five international destinations for American Express Travel clients are London, United Kingdom; Rome, Italy; Paris, France; Cancun, Mexico; and Nassau, Bahamas.
On the plus side, domestically, U.S. airlines carried 4.1% more passengers in 2005. BTS reported that the airlines carried 660 million domestic passengers during 2005, up from the 635 million carried in 2004. The passengers were carried on 10 million flights each year, meaning that planes were more crowded in 2005 by 4.5%. The two most popular routes in terms of passenger load were Atlanta-Orlando-Atlanta and Los Angeles-Las Vegas-Los Angeles.
American Express Travel found the top five domestic destinations booked by their agents were Orlando, Florida; New York City; Miami, Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Washington, DC.
Domestic Travel All Ages
Among airlines, Southwest carried 88 million domestic passengers during 2005, the most of any airline. The top 10 domestic airlines remained steady, with Delta, American, United, Northwest, US Airways, Continental, America West, and American Eagle following, and AirTran moving up from the number 12 spot to 10.
In contrast to international flights, the most used airports for domestic flights were many of the major airlines' hubs: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was the busiest, followed by Chicago O'Hare, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Los Angeles International, Las Vegas McCarran, Denver, Phoenix Sky Harbor, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County and Houston Bush Intercontinental.
Online Travel Research and Booking By All Ages
Forrester's research found that the average online leisure traveler is 44-years-old, with an average household income of $65,807. Of the 5,000+ surveyed, 65% are married or partnered, and 43% have children under 18 in their household, making this the single largest demographic. "The typical U. S. online leisure traveler takes 4.1 trips per year," their survey notes. "Of these, 57% travel to visit friends and family, 25% travel with their children, and 21% take weekend getaways with their children."
Forrester also discovered that the most frequent online travelers and biggest spenders were over age 55. Among online leisure travelers, 10% are over 55 and 14% are over 65, and they travel more often (an average of 4.4 trips per year) and spend more money (an average of $3,020 per trip) than other age group. It' s worth noting that back in 1995 when the BTS did their benchmark survey, 28% of all long distance person trips were taken by travelers over age 50.
While nearly 65% of those over 55 told Forrester that visiting family and friends was the main reason they travel, only 15% actually travel with family, compared to nearly 30% of adults between ages 25-54 who vacation with children. At FTF we think this is changing, as seniors transition from work to retirement to having fun.
Trends in Family Travel
Since 2004, FTFc (www.FamilyTravelConsulting.com) has noted an increase in vacation groups of three or more generations by analyzing requests to FamilyTravelForum.com's trip-planning service. The 2005 YPB&R National Leisure Travel Monitor estimated that more than 35% of American grandparents took one or more trips with their grandchildren. Among American Express Travel agents surveyed in 2006, 81% observed an increase in the number of multi-generational travel requests and 69% saw more "grandtravel" or grandparents traveling alone with grandchildren.
Quote of the year: "Travel fosters understanding and builds respect and creates a subtlety of opinion."
-Condoleezza Rice, April 12, 2006 Global Travel and Tourism Summit Breakfast
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.