Friday, May 21, 2010

AAA reports that Memorial Day traffic will be up - with the drive market representing the lion's share

NEW YORK ( -- Memorial Day travel is expected to increase this year, thanks to healthier economic conditions, according to a report released Thursday by motorist group AAA.

A total of 32.1 million American are planning to travel, a 5.4% increase from last year. They'll spend an average of $809 on their holiday trip, 1.1% less than last year.

"While the economy continues to be rocked by waves of occasional uncertainty, improved economic performance from one year ago should cause more Americans to take vacation this Memorial Day holiday weekend," Glen MacDonell, director of AAA travel services, said in a prepared statement.

AAA travel agents have been reporting double-digit spikes in the percentage of travelers making advanced bookings for tours, cruises and hotels, he added.

The report said 87% of travelers will be driving to their holiday destinations, a 5.8% jump from last year -- thanks in part to gas prices that AA expects to stay under $3 per gallon, on average.

While airfares are unchanged from a year ago, air travel is expected to rise 2.4% to 2.14 million. Another 2 million Americans will travel by rail, buses or watercraft.

Vacationers staying in hotels will get a slight price break: Hotel rates are 1% to 4% lower than last year, AAA found, with travelers spending an average of $99 to $142 per night.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What are people searching for in the travel category?

Hitwise collects data.  A lot of data.  They observe behavior and patterns.  One of the top industries that they track is the travel industry.

One pattern that has not changed substantially over the past 3 years [the time that I've been tracking it], is the percentage of search that is devoted to the drive market.  Out of the top 10 search terms in the travel category, six of them have to do with maps and driving directions.

This is not at all surprising, particularly when 85% of all trips over 75 miles from home in the US are by car, and not by air, and 78% of all overnight trips are by car.

What is surprising to me (still.....) is that the mainstream travel community (online, offline, technology providers, GDS) still focus on the 15% of overnight travelers that fly and virtually ignore the traveler that drives.

Could this still just be the "Irresistable Pull of Rational Behavior" that I wrote about in August of 2008?

I would love to hear some feedback on this topic.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Correction on yesterday's post on online travel agency decline


According to ARC, the current air ticket sales stats actually show the OTAs still growing year-over-year, with the RATE of growth declining a bit (see the chart in the original post).  Clearly the rate of growth in business travel via the Megas is making the OTAs growth look more mild, but the OTAs are not actually in decline.  

Monday, May 17, 2010

ARC Reports that online travel agency ticketing is declining

After several years of online agencies leading growth in air ticket sales, the last few months show a distinct decline for the online sector.

In this month's travel agency channel segmentation report, the Airline Reporting Corporation reports that online travel agency transactions are down.  Picking up the slack are the "Mega" agencies (Amex, Carlson, Hogg Robinson, BCD). Growth is also picking up for "other" (aka non-mega) offline agencies.

Overall air ticket sales by the 15,559 US agencies is  down month over month by 5% as of the end of April, with domestic sales declining 6% and International sales declining 3% month over month.

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