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What: MMGY Global’s 2015 “Portrait of American Travelers” (POAT) survey indicates a huge shift in consumer travel preferences, including the migration away from booking through OTAs; an uptick in cruising, especially among millennials; the popularity of review sites among affluent travelers; and the multigenerational participation in the sharing economy.
Why It Matters: This year’s POAT debunks major travel stereotypes and has far-reaching positive implications for travel agents. For example, millennials, who are interested in relaxing when traveling, are increasingly finding their way onboard cruise ships. In fact, along with matures, they now show the highest growth of interest in cruising.
Agents can also rejoice that OTAs are losing their lure: Only 58 percent of travelers obtained information from an OTA during the past year, down significantly from 84 percent in 2014. So long as agents stay one step ahead of consumers — who rely on TripAdvisor and are increasingly participating in the sharing economy — they can truly benefit from what seems like a very promising outlook.
Fast Facts:- This is the 25th annual MMGY Global survey of its kind. The marketing firm surveyed 2,832 U.S. adults.
- Almost half (48 percent) of all travelers are now interested in taking a cruise vacation during the next two years, up eight percent from the level who expressed interest in 2014.
- Millennials, more than any other age cohort, are increasingly interested in “staycationing,” with more than half (55 percent) taking a vacation close to home as an alternative to traveling a greater distance during the past year. This figure is up 14 percent from 2014, and a remarkable 23 percent from 2013.
- On why millennials prefer staycations: a desire to stay in one place and relax (37 percent), to spend more time with friends and family (34 percent), and save money for another vacation (30 percent).
- Millennial families intend to take more vacations over the next year than millennial couples, 43 percent compared to 27 percent.
- Fifty-one percent of millennials are interested in cruising in the next two years.
- Seventy-four percent of Boomers and 72 percent of GenXers now use shared services, and the top resource cited for advice on both destinations and travel suppliers was TripAdvisor (87 percent).
- Only 13 percent of consumers who searched an OTA for travel information booked their reservations on these sites, down from 36 percent since last year.
- Travelers are using this service for different reasons, depending on their age, with some citing safety and cashless payment options as primary reasons for using services such as Uber. Among travelers who have used ride-sharing on vacation, 79 percent like not having to pay their driver directly and feel safer since the app identifies the driver and handles payment.
What They’re Saying: “We were surprised to find such significant shifts in travel preferences in just one year," said Steve Cohen, vice-president of Insights for MMGY Global. "In addition, the survey revealed several unexpected trends across generational group. Clearly the industry is in a state of flux, as the way people view and make decisions regarding travel is evolving at a much faster pace than in previous years.”