Travel Agents Study Breaks Down What Travelers Are Thinking These Days

A new report from the American Society of Travel Agents highlights travelers' attitudes on a variety of issues—from President Trump's travel executive order to the availability of WiFi.

The latest survey from the American Society of Travel Agents provides a glimpse into the psyche of a person looking to take a trip.

Whether a traveler is going on vacation or taking a business trip, creature comforts still matter—as does the current geopolitical climate, which can have an indirect effect on traveling in ways big and small.

“We’ve approached this year’s study with greater focus on the changing landscape for travel and the issues shaping that change,” ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby said in a news release. “This is part of our commitment to be an advocate for travelers, as well as for our travel agency members.”

Although the How America Travels National Survey focuses primarily on leisure travel, it has several takeaways for event pros and others who watch business travel trends.

Millennials Travel More

Millennials lead the way in both business and leisure travel, according to the report.

On average, millennials take 1.8 work trips and 3.1 leisure trips each year. Gen Xers, on the other hand, take 1.1 work trips per year, and boomers take 0.7. Both groups average around 2.3 leisure trips per year.

When millennials travel, they tend to spend more on lodging and activities than they do actual travel, spending less on roundtrip transportation ($394) than either gen Xers ($452) or boomers ($409).

On the other hand, they spend more on lodging per night ($170) than boomers do ($147), and only slightly less than gen Xers ($174).

A Divisive Travel Ban

Not surprisingly, the survey found divided opinions about President Donald Trump’s executive order on travel. While a significant segment of respondents (16 percent) said they have no opinion on the order, those that do are strongly split, with 43 percent opposed and 41 percent in favor.

Millennials are more likely to oppose the order than other age groups: 48 percent oppose the policy and 37 percent support it.

Millennials are also more likely than other groups to change their travel plans because of the order. Notably, 18 percent of millennials have skipped a foreign trip due at least in part to the travel ban, compared to 9 percent of all travelers.

Cost Over Comfort

The report revealed that price and ease (57 percent and 59 percent, respectively) are the most important factors in air travel decisions, with convenience (52 percent) and timing (49 percent) also significant considerations. Service issues, such as comfortable seating and customer service, are important but less of a factor in decisions (41 percent).

Where WiFi Matters Most

While free wireless was a factor in only 24 percent of flying decisions, things change when passengers are on the ground—particularly when they select hotels.

Price and comfort are the most important factors (75 percent and 64 percent, respectively), but free WiFi is not far behind (48 percent). Among millennials, 52 percent said free WiFi is a big factor when they pick a place to stay.

Factors like star rating and guest reviews (31 percent each) are much less important for travelers, the survey found.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!