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Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group has released the results of the 2013 International Travel Trends Survey. This online survey, conducted by Kelton in early January, polled 1,072 Americans age 18 and over and of various income levels. Seeking information about trends in travel, the survey asked participants about brand loyalty in their hotel selection, the influence of social media on their travel choices and the importance of technology in hotel rooms, among others.
1. Technology in Hotels: Most travelers (70 percent) look for free Wi-Fi access when choosing hotels. Between 20 and 30 percent of younger travelers also reported interest in extras such as chargers, speakers, gaming consoles and electronic tablets, whereas these mattered less to travelers over the age of 45.
2. Social Media/Word-of-Mouth: Word-of-mouth remains a strong influence in general: 41 percent of participants cited the travel experiences of trusted sources as influential. Newer social media outlets such as Instagram and Facebook, in particular, influence about three times as many young travelers (18–34) as older travelers.
3. Online Travel Deals: Twice as many travelers age 18-34 as those over 35 are influenced in their travel choices by online deals offered on such websites as Groupon or LivingSocial.
4. Hotel Brand: Income seems to play a part in the choice of well-known hotel brands. The number of participants with annual household incomes of more than $100,000 who preferred well-known brands for domestic travel is almost twice the number of travelers with smaller incomes. The difference is slightly smaller for international travel.
5. Hotel Dining Quality: More than a quarter of participants claimed that the quality of hotel dining has improved recently, and more than half would prefer to eat most or all of their meals at their hotel. A majority of those with annual incomes of more than $100,000 (59 percent) said that they would choose to dine at a hotel restaurant with good reviews (e.g., Zagat) even if they were not staying there.
6. Celebrity Chefs: This somewhat recent trend in hotel dining promotion has attracted the attention of higher-income travelers. Almost half would like to eat at a hotel restaurant with a celebrity chef.
Other top findings from the survey indicate where and how consumers are traveling:
7. Gas Prices and Road Trips: Nearly a third of participants reported that road trips have become too expensive because of the steep climb in gas prices.
8. Fuel Prices and Air Travel: As a corollary to the findings on gas prices, a little more than a fourth of participants reported that they have not booked flights because the cost of fuel has made air travel too pricy.
9. Baggage Fees: Some have especially reacted to the rise in baggage checking fees charged by most airlines, including the decrease in the number of free bags. Fourteen percent of the survey’s participants reported that they cannot justify such fees.
10. International Prospects: Among Americans who have not journeyed outside the country, about half of those aged 18–44 reported plans to do so, compared with about a fourth of those 45 and older.