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BizReport : Research archives : May 25, 2011

Summer at hand, consumers looking for travel deals

With the unofficial launch of summer just a few days away here in the US, consumers are looking to get away. Although some experts expect the summer travel season to decline because of gas prices, early information shows an increase in interest in summer vacations. Is it wishful planning? Or are consumers planning to travel more this summer?

by Kristina Knight

Memorial Day, May 30, marks the unofficial launch of the summer season in the US and many are using the time leading up to the holiday to research vacation destinations. And, according to a recent TripAdvisor report, higher gas prices aren't stopping them. Research shows that 86% of travelers are planning a leisure trip this summer, although many aren't looking to drive very far.

• 39% report gas prices will impact their destination
• 18% plan to travel less by car
• 24% say they will travel 200 miles or less this summer

Data from Burst Media's Summer Travel & Vacations 2011 survey is similar. Burst's researchers found that 49% of consumers are planning a summer vacation and about one-third will travel more this summer than last. However, one-third are also planning 'stay-cations'; half say gas prices will impact where they travel this year. Also, only about half have finalized plans by making a travel purchase, so there is still time for destinations to engage in-market consumers.

Where are travelers looking to go? Many will stay somewhat closer to home, so it may be a good idea for smaller travel destinations - like national parks or localized destinations, like amusement parks - to invest in an online campaign. National parks, lake and ocean destinations were noted as important for many planning summer vacations.

According to data from Experian/Hitwise, vacation destination search queries increased (week ending May 14, 2011); terms including 'hotels in williamsburg, va', 'colorado cabins' and 'hotels in downtown chicago' are on the increase.

Higher gas prices may not be deterring travelers, at least not yet, but they are impacting another area. Experian/Hitwise analyst Heather Dougherty recently noted that hybrid and gas efficiency searches were on the rise. When gas prices spiked in March, online searches for terms like 'prius' or 'volt' also spiked.

Tags: ad trends, Burst Media, Experian/Hitwise, Memorial Day 2011, online advertising, travel advertising, travel category, TripAdvisor

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