MMGY Global: Millennials Are the Driving Force Behind Growth in Travel

MMGY Global has just released the data from its 2017 Portrait of American Travelers survey. What the results found: Millennials are a huge segment of travelers, and will have a major impact on the industry. MMGY revealed its findings earlier this year at our ULTRA Summit in Washington, D.C.

The Portrait showed that in a year of projected slowdown for travel, Millennial families are going to spend more and travel more than all other generational segments. This year’s study predicts that the approximately 60 million traveling households in the U.S. will spend up to $5 billion less on leisure travel, which is less than a 1 percent dip from its eight-year high in 2016. The 9.5 million households that are American Millennial families, however, intend to spend 19 percent more on vacations during the next 12 months and intend to travel 35 percent more than the previous year.  

The following are highlights from the first of four research publications to be released this year as part of the study:

Portrait of Americans Travelers infographic

Millennial Families Are the Primary Drivers of Growth in Travel

Millennial families, which are married or unmarried couples living together with children aged 17 or under currently in the household, make up 16 percent of all American travelers. They went on a combined 36.9 million vacations and spent $50.4 billion on leisure travel during the past 12 months and they are the driving force behind growth in travel this year. 

While U.S. travelers only intend to travel 6 percent more this year, Millennial families intend to travel 35 percent more
  • Millennial families intend to spend 38 percent more than Millennial couples on vacation and 88 percent more than Millennial singles
  • Twenty-six percent of Millennial family vacations are to international destinations; fewer than 20 percent of couples or singles are traveling internationally. This possibility may be because three-quarters of Millennial families consider themselves happy, optimistic about their own future (83 percent) and the future of the world (62 percent)

Instability Turning Americans Toward Domestic Destinations and Road Trips

In 2017, travelers reported spending an average of $4,833 on vacations during the previous 12 months, a significant drop from $5,048 the year prior. And, for the first time since 2013, travelers report an intention to spend less on travel than they did during the previous year. With half of travelers saying they are optimistic about the future of America and the world, travelers’ preferences are shifting toward domestic rather than international destinations. 

  • Domestic vacations now make up 85 percent of American vacations, up seven points from last year. There were 13.9 million more vacations taken within the U.S. compared to outside the country 
  • Two-thirds of travelers reported being happy, which represents a drop of nine points from last year, representing a five-year low. Two-thirds of travelers are currently optimistic about their future employment, which is a seven-point decrease from last year
  • Forty percent of domestic vacations will be to a new destination, which is up from 34 percent last year
  • Seventy-nine percent of millennial travelers’ vacations were to domestic destinations in 2016; the same applies to 85 percent of Gen Xers, 90 percent of baby boomers, and 88 percent of mature travelers
  • In the last 12 months, 39 percent of vacations taken by American travelers were road trips, up from 22 percent the year prior.  

Attractions Are Influencing Where Travelers Vacation

Over two-thirds of travelers visited at least one attraction while on vacation, and these approximately 41.5 million households took a combined 150.9 million vacations and spent $306.1 billion on leisure travel during the past 12 months.

  • Fifty-three percent of all vacations include at least one visit to an attraction
  • Sixty-eight percent of travelers chose the majority of attractions they would visit before the vacation began 
  • Top-ranking attractions showcase an interest in education and culture as art and history museums (65 percent), aquariums (59 percent) and science museums (56 percent) came before theme parks (55 percent)
  • Fifty-seven percent of Millennials visited at least one attraction on vacation during the last 12 months, while 53 percent of Xers, 49 percent of Boomers and 46 percent of Matures did

Now in its 27th year, MMGY Global’s Portrait of American Travelers survey provides an in-depth examination of the impact of the current economic environment, prevailing social values, and emerging travel habits, preferences, and intentions of Americans. The nationally representative survey of 2,902 U.S. adults, who have taken at least one overnight trip of 75 miles or more from home during the previous 12 months, includes 2,013 households with an annual income between $50,000 and $124,999; 725 households with an annual income between $125,000 and $249,999; and 164 households with an annual income of more than $250,000.  Data was collected in February 2017.

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