Millennials and Families Dominate Leisure Travel Market

New research from Phocuswright notes travel industry growth in 2014, particularly leisure travel By: Valerie Chen
Research shows that families are heavy spenders while on vacation. // © 2015 Thinkstock
Research shows that families are heavy spenders while on vacation. // © 2015 Thinkstock

Phocuswright’s recently released “U.S. Consumer Travel Report Seventh Edition” reports persistent travel industry growth, including a new post-recession high for leisure travel in 2014. The leisure travel market now comprises roughly 140 million adults — about 30 million more than in 2009 — and such travel typically includes paid lodging and/or a flight.

Why It Matters:
For travel agents, that’s a massive pool of potential clients, as well as a profitable opportunity for commission. The chatter about millennial travelers isn’t going away any time soon: The demographic has a firm grip on the title of “most likely to travel,” with seven in 10 millennials taking one or more leisure trips in 2014. Marketing and selling to this group of 18 to 34 year olds — who frequently take pricier international trips — and families with children, who have the highest average spend per trip at $1,683, is more important than ever.

Fast Facts:
- Three in 10 leisure travelers spent $4,000 or more in 2014.

- Though annual trip frequency remains steady, trips have become longer. From 2013 to 2014, weekend getaways decreased by 2 percent (of all leisure trips), while longer trips increased by 4 percent.

- Traveling with one other adult or as a couple is the most common way to travel at 55 percent, while 34 percent involve travel with family, including children. Coming in third is solo travel at 31 percent.

- Reasons for travel involve the desire to get away or take a break (45 percent) and spend time with friends and family (43 percent).

What They Are Saying:
"U.S. leisure travelers are spending with pre-recession confidence again. More adults are getting out of the house and booking hotels and flights," said Marcello Gasdia, director of consumer research for Phocuswright. "Big family trips are back in numbers and more of them continue to put passports to good use. The whole picture looks very promising for the U.S. travel industry in 2016."