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We have witnessed Americans shifting even more of their trips
than usual to the highways, to closer-to-home and more rural
destinations, and to travel motivated by a desire to connect with
family and friends, while shifting their travel choices away from
air travel and trips to major cities and travel destinations.
While we expect these trends to remain strong this summer, they
may not be as exaggerated as we saw last year, reflecting
Americans’ gradual return to their more traditional travel
And finally, our most recent surveys also suggest that the late
booking trends we have seen developing over the past few years are
continuing. Forty-one percent of all travelers said that while they
do plan leisure travel this summer, they have not yet started
planning or booking their trips. Among those who have not yet
started to plan or book, two-thirds say they have not yet decided
when to go, and 42 percent have not yet decided where to go. This
suggests that travel destinations and companies still have the
opportunity to influence the decisions of millions of Americans
about summer travel.
So, that’s the story for leisure travel. We are also somewhat
more optimistic about U.S. business travel, which has been in
decline since before 9/11. By the end of 2002, for example,
business travel was down nearly 9 percent from 2000 levels.
Recovery is, of course, being challenged by tighter travel policies
and the increasing use of technology to replace travel. We think
those trends will continue.
But, several new surveys, such as one recently released by the
Business Travel Coalition, suggest that companies may be relaxing
some of their travel restrictions. If the economy continues to
strengthen, as now expected, business should pick up, along with
business confidence and profits, providing the need for corporate
executives to get back on the road and in the air.