MMGY Global’s 2014 Portrait of Affluent Travelers

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Luxury Travel Advisor sponsored the 2014 Portrait of the Affluent Traveler survey prepared by MMGY Global, who dissected the data for us to show the responses from those who intend to use a travel advisor over the next two years. As a result, on the following pages, you’ll find out just what your clients are thinking and where they want to go next. There’s more good news. Affluent travelers who intend to use an advisor took more trips last year and spent more money and intend to do the same thing this year. The entire study can be ordered at mmgyglobal.com/research or via [email protected]

For this article, affluent travelers who intend to use traditional travel agents in the next two years were contrasted with affluent travelers who do not. A quarter of affluent travelers (25%) intend to use a traditional travel agent during the next two years, while three-fourths (75%) do not.

Travel Spending and Trips

Affluent travelers who intend to use travel agents during the next two years spent more on vacation, took more vacations in 2013, and intend to spend more and take more vacations in 2014 than affluent travelers who do not intend to use a travel agent.

Affluent travelers who intend to use traditional travel agents spent significantly more on travel in 2013 than those who do not—an average of $17,955, compared to $9,470. Even more encouragingly, affluent travelers who intend to use travel agents anticipate spending more on travel in 2014—an average of $19,168, $1,213 higher than what they spent in 2013.

This segment also went on more trips in 2013—an average of 6.9 vacations, compared to 4.9 trips of affluent travelers who do not. Three in 10 (32%) of affluent travelers who intend to use a traditional travel agent intend to take more vacations in 2014, while only 11% say they will take less. This equals a rise of 21% in the intent to travel.

Travel Service Booking Preferences

Affluent travelers who intend to use a travel agent are significantly more likely than those who do not intend to use one to feel the best prices for travel services are from online travel agencies or through traditional travel agents. This segment is also significantly more likely to agree that the most convenient way to book travel is on the phone with either a travel service provider or a traditional travel agent.

Over four in 10 (44%) of affluent travelers who intend to use travel agents book travel through travel service provider websites, a quarter (25%) through online travel agencies, two in 10 (21%) through traditional travel agents, and one in 10 (10%) on the phone with a travel service provider.

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Over six in 10 affluent travelers who intend to use a traditional travel agent (63%) have used a travel agent in the past 12 months, for an average of 2.7 trips. The areas in which travel agents have the biggest influence in are hotels/resorts (73%), vacation packages/tours (69%), airlines (59%), travel insurance (57%) and destinations (56%).

Approximately eight in 10 of affluent travelers who intend on using a travel agent do so because of their ability to provide an extra level of service when things go wrong (85%), their knowledge of the destinations and travel service suppliers (84%), and their ability to take the hassle out of booking travel (80%). Three-quarters work with a travel agent because their recommendations assure high quality travel experiences (77%), they have the experience to book better trips (77%), and using travel agents allows for more control over every aspect of the vacation (75%).

Multigenerational Travel

Affluent travelers who intend to use travel agents are significantly more likely than those who don’t intend to do so to have children in their households, and are also significantly more likely to be influenced by those children while making vacation decisions.

Almost half of affluent travelers who intend to use a travel agent (45%) have children currently in their households, compared to less than four in 10 affluent travelers who do not intend to use a travel agent (36%). Among affluent travelers with children, those affluent travelers with children who used to use travel agents are significantly more likely to be influenced by their children when it comes to picking a vacation destination and selecting the hotel/resort.

While three in 10 of both groups of affluent travelers are grandparents, significantly more affluent travelers who intend to use a travel agent (47%) have vacationed with their grandchildren in the past 12 months than those who do not intend to use a travel agent (33%).

Past Vacation Behaviors

Eight in 10 affluent travelers who intend to use a travel agent (78%) took a vacation to celebrate a special event, significantly higher than those who do not intend to use a travel agent (65%). Half the affluent travelers who intend to use a travel agent took a vacation to celebrate an anniversary (48%) or birthday (46%), while two in 10 vacationed for a family reunion (23%) or wedding (19%).

Future Vacation Interests

Affluent travelers who intend to use travel agents are significantly more interested in cruising (62%) than those who do not intend to use a travel agent (30%). They are also significantly more interested in visiting specific domestic destinations and international regions and countries than those who do not intend to use a travel agent.

The domestic destinations both groups are most interested in visiting are the Hawaiian Neighbor Islands, national parks around the country, Honolulu, New York City and San Francisco. It should be noted that those interested in using a travel agent are significantly more interested in visiting each of those destinations than those who do not intend to use a travel agent.

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Significantly more affluent travelers who intend to use travel agents (66%) are interested in visiting Europe than those who do not intend to use travel agents (59%). The three countries in Europe both groups are most interested in visiting are Italy, England and France.

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Half of affluent travelers in both groups are interested in visiting the Caribbean during the next two years. Over two in 10 of both groups are interested in traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, St. Maarten/St. Martin, Aruba and the British Virgin Islands.

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Over four in 10 affluent travelers who intend to use a travel agent (43%) are interested in visiting Canada, which is significantly higher than for those who do not intend to use a travel agent (37%). Three in 10 affluent travelers who intend to use travel agents want to visit British Columbia (31%), while almost three in 10 want to go to Quebec (28%) or Ontario (26%).

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Attitudes Toward Travel

Eight in 10 affluent travelers who intend to use travel agents (81%) believe vacations bring them closer to their spouses, while over seven in 10 hold that they are likely to try new things on vacation (73%) and that going on vacation brings them closer to their families (72%). Four in 10 would take a vacation alone to get away from it all if they had the opportunity to do so (40%).

Affluent travelers who are interested in using a travel agent are significantly more likely to be invested in vacation memories than those who do not intend to use a travel agent. Approximately eight in 10 believe the memories from vacation make the trip worth it (83%), find themselves thinking about vacation after they have returned (77%), and sometimes draw from past vacation memories to help select where to go on future trips (77%). Over three in 10 like using social media to share a record of their travels (36%), and admit that they post vacation photos on social media sites like Facebook to make their friends and family jealous (31%).

Methodology

The travel trend information presented in this report was obtained from interviews with 2,550 active leisure travelers in February, 2014. Respondents were adults who reside in the United States and:

* Had an annual household income of $125,000 or more, and

* Had taken at least one leisure trip of 75 miles or more from home during the previous 12 months requiring overnight accommodations.

Respondents were selected randomly and participated in a 45-minute online survey. The sample has been balanced by statistical weighting to ensure the data are representative of all active leisure travelers in America who meet the target profile. All tests of statistical significance have been made using a two-population test at the 95 percent level of confidence.