Americans prefer driving over flying on vacation. // © 2011 Kurhan
According to the recent Drive Market study, almost three-quarters of Americans indicated that they prefer to drive to their vacation destination, leaving the market opportunities for travel agents wide open. The study, conducted as part of a larger effort known as Project 85, examined the habits and attitudes of more than 1,500 Americans toward drive vacations, which represents about $495 billion in travel spending, as reported by the U.S. Travel Association. The Project 85 think tank -- named for the 85 percent of travel that takes place in the U.S. by car, motorcycle, recreational vehicle or other vehicle -- is a collection of U.S. travel and tourism organizations that have united to collaborate on the development of marketing approaches and solutions for U.S. travelers who drive rather than fly to their destinations.
"This study really provides great insight into how Americans plan trips, their motivations for choosing to drive and their use of travel agents," said ASTA president and chair Chris Russo. "For travel agents looking to break into new markets, the drive market is an often-overlooked segment but one that holds distinct opportunities. Russo cited cruising as one example.
"As cruise lines look to use more diverse ports, an increasing percentage of Americans can now drive rather than fly to their cruise departure port, presenting an opportunity for agents to design a customized itinerary to complement the cruise," said Russo.
The Drive Market study also found that comfort is the primary reason why 74 percent of Americans prefer to drive to their destination, compared to 21 percent who choose air travel. This is especially true among travelers who are over the age of 50. In addition, 81 percent of travelers also reported that flexibility and the ability to determine one's own schedules is another reason why driving to a vacation destination is more appealing. The freedom to pack more belongings on a road trip rather than on a plane ride was another factor.