The State of the American Traveler in June 2022—The Role of Psychographics, High Prices and Ad Imagery
Yes, high travel prices are having an impact although travel demand remains strong. Travelers still get their heart strings pulled by landscape and sunset images in travel advertising. As always, marketers would be wise to dig deeper into pyschographics to target their most fruitful audiences.
IMPORTANT: These findings are brought to you from our independent research, which is not sponsored, conducted or influenced by any advertising or marketing agency. The key findings presented below represent data from over 4,000 American travelers collected in May 2022.
Traveler Psychographics & their Impact on Likely Travel Behaviors
Our job at Destination Analysts is constantly digging into “the why” behind travel motivations and decisions, so we use our monthly survey of 4,000 American travelers to pinpoint and track a range of traveler psychographics. Here are some of the interesting ways that travelers’ identities and tendencies appear to influence their travel behaviors right now:
Travel Spending–People who describe themselves as having dominant personalities, as well as those who describe themselves as active & energetic, plan to spend more on travel than they did previously (45.4% vs. 36.2% among all travelers). Active energetic types also have the highest reported travel budgets for the year at $5,200 (vs. $3,900 for the average traveler). As you might expect, people who describe themselves as worriers are more sensitive to what they perceive as “expensive” travel prices right now, and plan to spend less on leisure travel than they previously did (23.8% vs. 18.5% for all travelers). In fact, over 40% of worriers say right now is a “bad” time to spend on travel.
Travel Planning and Media Consumption–Those that identify as creative are the likeliest to be talking to friends and relatives about travel right now (40.1%). These creative types are also more apt to plan a week-long vacation in under 2 months; in contrast, self-described worriers need an additional week on average compared to other travelers (11 weeks vs. 10 weeks for other travelers). Adventurous types, as well as the active energetics are those travelers most likely to be glued to their phones looking at travel information (76% vs 63.1% for the average traveler). Travelers looking for a new romantic partner are more likely than others to use digital influencers to plan travel (34.0% vs. 19.8%) and more likely to use online video resources for trip planning (48.4% vs. 33.1%). These romance-seekers prefer to visit new places over ones they have been to before and, perhaps unsurprisingly, are less likely to want to see beautiful scenery in travel ads and more likely to want to see nightlife. Those that identify as calm, as well as those that describe themselves as sensitive, are both more likely to be found using online resources rather than offline. In fact, it’s the adventurous and dominant types who use more resources to plan travel–online and offline–overall. When it comes to TikTok versus Instagram Reels, it’s the worriers who have a TikTok preference (32.0% picked TikTok over Instagram Reels when presented the choice; 28.0% picked Instagram Reels and the rest said neither). Meanwhile, self-described calm travelers prefer Instagram Reels (31.8% picked Instagram Reels over TikTok, 24.7% picked TikTok and the rest said neither).
Drivers of Destination Aspiration–When asked what factors are motivating them to pick the top destinations they aspire to visit this year, interesting differences emerge based on the types of destinations travelers typically prefer, including:
Marketing & Advertising Travel
Travel continues to be hot and Americans open to inspiration. Overall, 86 percent of American travelers expect to travel in the next 12 months and the typical traveler expects to take 3 leisure trips in this period. Americans continue to show an increasing desire to venture further again, with 28.4% planning to travel internationally this year. Over 63% say they have a strong degree of openness to learning about new travel experiences and destinations to visit.
Yet, even as travel brands’ advertising increases to capitalize on the strong demand, more people are feeling unrepresented in the travel marketing they see. This month, 36.7% agreed with the statement “I’ve noticed that travel advertisements usually do not reflect people like myself”– up 5-points in the last four-weeks.
One angle to explore travel advertising from is the image-based content that consumers find most desirable. Our team has been charged with a lot of creative testing for our clients of late, and we used this month’s national survey to examine 20 of some of the most common image-themes used in travel advertising. The question we posed was “Please think about how destinations could appeal to you in travel advertisements. Which of these images would you generally find most appealing in a travel advertisement?” Below are the top 10 rated:
|Families enjoying the beach||25.0%|
|Friends enjoying the beach||23.5%|
|Famous iconic attractions||22.0%|
|Museums or cultural attractions||20.7%|
|Scenes from a fun road trip||19.0%|
|People dining in a restaurant||18.6%|
|People having fun at theme parks||17.5%|
Image themes receiving the least overall appeal rating included Theatrical performances, Solo travelers in nature and Scenes at a sporting event.
Rising Travel Costs & Inflation
With the peak summer travel season begun, more Americans are agreeing it’s a good time to spend money on travel (33.4%). Additionally, 61.7% percent say that leisure travel will be a high spending priority – the highest level it’s been since July 2021.
Yet inflation and prices are indeed having an impact. The percent of American travelers saying that if gas prices don’t come down, they will take fewer road trips this summer (61.1%) and/or stay closer to home (63.0%) both increased 3 percentage points. High travel prices as an impediment to travel also climbed 3-points in the last month to 41.8%.
30.1% say they have cancelled a trip they had planned or considered because of high prices. When asked to rate how much a deterrent specific travel costs are, the two most commonly seen as “deal breakers” are gas (22.9%) and airfare (11.8%)
Feelings about COVID
Americans are splintering again on Covid. Although a larger proportion of Americans feel optimistic about how the Covid situation will progress in the next month (32.3%), a growing proportion now feel it will worsen (up to 25.3% from 21.5% last month). More also feel that the virus is impacting their ability to have meaningful travel experiences (up 5-points in the last month to 38.2%). In addition, amongst those who have taken an overnight trip in the last 3 months, 27.3% said they had more than moderate anxiety on their most recent trip (up over 8-points in the last month). Despite relaxed mask requirements on commercial aircrafts, a majority of travelers (59.3%) would still prefer that all passengers wear masks while onboard the plane. In fact, those preferring that masks continue to be work surpasses the proportion of those who would not prefer this by a ratio of nearly three-to-one. Nevertheless, 34 percent of travelers say relaxed masking requirements increases their interest in traveling by air, compared to about 25 percent who disagree with this sentiment.
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