August 26, 2019
Findings reveal that travel advisors are positive about today’s economy; but will it last? As for travelers, it depends whom you ask
Fort Lauderdale, FL, August 26, 2019 – Today, the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) released preliminary findings from its annual study, How America Travels, sponsored by Carnival Corporation & plc. This year’s wide-ranging study includes key insights into the travel economy, including perceptions of destination safety and travel spending.
As talks of a future recession dominate today’s headlines, the study sheds new daylight on the health of the overall economy compared to the travel economy. Both the traveler and the travel advisor share mixed views of how the economy will fare in 2020.
Economic Outlook for 2020
Travel Advisors: Although 32% of travel advisors feel the overall economy will be better in 12 months than it is now, 20% feel the economy will be worse. While this points to a positive view overall (a net positive of 12-points), there are definitely some concerns about the potential for a softening economy.
U.S. Travelers: Travelers are also positive about the overall economy. 41% believe the economy will be better in 12 months than it is now, however, a sizeable 21% feel it will be worse. As with travel advisors, this represents a positive view overall (a net positive of 19-points), but many consumers are expressing concerns.
Despite future economic concerns, travel advisors are confident that they’ve insulated their business against an economic downturn.
Even though 20% of travel advisors think the overall economy is going to be worse in the next twelve months, this concern does not translate into perceptions regarding the future financial health of their travel business. Only 7% of travel advisors feel their business is going to be worse off next year, however a whopping 50% think their business is going to be better.
The traveler data backs this up.
Travelers who plan to use a travel advisor anticipate taking more trips in 2020, on average, than those who do not plan to use one (3.6 vs. 2.5 trips). And travelers who have previously used an advisor reported spending more on their last trip than those who didn’t ($3,505).
More travel, more money. Discretionary spending by the numbers.
In another sign of optimism, overall, travelers expect to spend more on their next trip ($2,335) than they did on their last one ($1,981). Given that travelers expect to take an average of 2.9 trips in the next twelve months, the total amount of anticipated spend per traveler during that time, is an estimated $6,772, a 10% increase over the past 12 months.
“The timing of this study provides us a unique snapshot during a critical crossroads in our U.S. economy. The future outlook of our overall economy remains in question – for both the advisor and the traveler, and rightly so. This is a time in our history where, more than ever, the future is uncertain,” said Zane Kerby, President and CEO of the American Society of Travel Advisors. “But when it comes to leisure travel, travel advisors have their fingers on the pulse of the traveling public’s discretionary spending – historic, current and future. While no one can predict the future, advisor assessment is a key economic indicator providing significant insight. From this study we learned that the traveler and the travel advisor agree; even if a recession does occur the travel economy will continue to grow.”
2020 economic outlook varies widely between men and women.
Men and women have decidedly different views on the future economy. 50% of men feel the economy will be better 12 months from now compared to 31% of women. Nonetheless, 58% of men and 51% of women feel their personal financial situation will be better next year, which falls in line with the finding that men plan to take more trips than women (2.6 vs. 2.0). Men also anticipate spending more on their next trip than women ($2,759 vs. $1,290).
“Despite concerns on the horizon both travelers and travel advisors remain bullish in their economic outlook,” said Kerby. “Reflecting travelers’ optimism for the future, more people (81%) anticipate travelling in the next 12 months than actually did so last year. Combine this with the fact that advisors are also expecting better returns next year…there is good news in this study for everyone.”
Both the Travel Advisor and the U.S. Traveler research studies were conducted for ASTA by The Institute for Association and Nonprofit Research (IFANR). For the Travel Advisor study, IFANR recruited respondents from a list of Travel Advisors provided by ASTA as well as through social media. Data collection occurred between July 29 and August 12, 2019. A total of 1,063 Travel Advisors participated in the survey. The margin of error for this study was +/- 3.0%.
For the U.S. Traveler study, IFANR recruited respondents through a third-party panel provider, Lucid. Respondents are representative of the U.S. adult population ages 18 to 75. Data collection occurred between July 29 and August 7, 2019. In all, 2,050 individuals responded to the survey. The margin of error for overall results is +/- 2.2%.
ASTA thanks Carnival Corporation, an ASTA Proud Partner, for sponsoring ASTA’s consumer research for the sixth year in a row. As a longtime ASTA Proud Partner, Carnival Corporation is building on its exemplary track record of helping agents better understand today’s consumers and supporting research that benefits all ASTA travel advisors.
Rebranded in 2018 as the American Society of Travel Advisors, ASTA is the leading global advocate for travel advisors, the travel industry and the traveling public. Its members represent 80 percent of all travel sold in the United States through the travel agency distribution channel. Together with hundreds of internationally-based members, ASTA’s history of industry advocacy traces back to its founding in 1931 when it launched with the mission to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. For more information about the Society, visit ASTA.org. Consumers can connect with an ASTA travel advisor at TravelSense.org.