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BizReport : Research archives : January 12, 2011

2011 Travel: Will consumers stay or will they go?

There have been many changes in the US since the 2008/2009 recession: consumers have changed a few spending habits and have begun staying home more often. But with the 2010 holiday season in the books, it seems that some old habits are returning. Does that spell increased revenue for travel brands?

by Kristina Knight

In 2010 spending reach all-time highs on several days with the overall shopping season bringing in more than $32 billion in online sales. But with gas prices creeping back up some retailers wonder if 2008 spending habits will return.

A recent NielsenWire reports suggests that consumers have retained their 2008 spending habits and simply modified them, but with gas prices going up consumers may revert to those habits. The report cites figures that show consumers continue to eat out less, use more coupons and buy less expensive brands. If consumers do cut back, it is likely that retail brands will benefit from coupons, loyalty/rewards programs and 'special savings' ad campaigns - much like brands used in 2009 and 2010 to draw consumers into stores.

What about travel?

So far consumers are still planning vacations, rather than staycations, a good sign for travel brands. According to Experian Hitwise, the first week in January saw many consumers checking in with travel hubs. Many were likely planning mid-winter getaways or even summer vacations. The top sites included Google Maps (15% share of visits) and MapQuest (5.58% share). But actual travel hubs like Expedia (3% share), Southwest Airlines (2.6% share) and Priceline (1.9% share) were also in the top five. Other heavy hitters? TripAdvisor, Delta Air Lines and Bing Maps.

That may change if gas prices continue to increase, but of course that is speculation at this point. We can only look to the past to try to predict whether or not consumers will stay- or vacation in 2011.

Tags: ecommerce, Experian Hitwise, NielsenWire, travel advertising, travel content, travel trends

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