Stay Or Go? The Lasting Effect Of The Staycation

The Staycation. In late 2008 and during 2009 the "Staycation" became the bane of many travel marketers, from airlines to long-haul destinations, as its momentum as the rallying cry for consumer fiscal responsibility and creativity grew. "Visit" your own backyard, learn to love the day trip, and reacquaint yourself with what's within driving distance.

It was the perfect storm. Marketers across the spectrum -- from decking and home goods to local destinations and amusement parks -- took advantage of the pressure on consumers' wallets to make a play to keep their vacation dollars close to home.

So what will become of the "Staycation" as the U.S. consumer begins to recover from the worst of the recession? Well, let's remember, the root of vacation is the word "vacate." The Staycation was a hard mindset shift, a bullet to bite, a compromise. All things being equal, people want permission to go away again. And with some early positive economic signs -- and destinations, carriers and hotels working overtime to incentivize prospective visitors -- it seems likely that 2010 will mark the start of the turnaround for good, old-fashioned "go away" leisure travel.



That said, the Staycation will likely have a lasting impact on the travel industry. The advent of the Staycation really shone a light on every element of the vacation experience and what the consumer was paying for it. Every cost was itemized and scrutinized for its necessity and return on investment. The Staycation encouraged a focus on spending on only the most important element of the vacation.

This will have an interesting counter-effect in the recovery period and beyond. As people look to add back the items they may have cut in the last year, they will have a much higher level of scrutiny for the value and ROI each one brings. Each ticket, each meal, every amenity, "add-on" or upgrade that had been previously removed now has greater resonance and meaning and, therefore, will be subjected to a much more rigorous cost/benefit analysis.

This will be amplified in travel itself. Many people stayed home to avoid the cost of the actual travel. But now that travel is back on the menu, they will likely look to make it count more -- a renewed mindset where enjoying the journey is as important as the destination itself.

The Staycation's lasting effect will not just be about making consumers more conscious of and discerning about their holistic vacation experience and its related cost, however. The Staycation will continue to affect travel in 2010 and beyond because it is now a firmly established and viable vacation option, regardless of the economy. Local destinations and attractions upped their ad spending and their game in the Staycation era, and it's likely that their efforts have earned them a long-term place in the consumer's consideration set.

But that's the key difference -- in 2010, the Staycation goes back to being an option, not a "sentence." This promises to make the travel marketplace even more competitive -- welcome news for the consumer, and a continued challenge to travel marketers in all segments.

3 comments about "Stay Or Go? The Lasting Effect Of The Staycation ".
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  1. Jonathan Hall from American Pop, April 26, 2010 at 12:26 p.m.

    We did a social media campaign for Cleveland, promoting it as a staycation spot. One interesting thing that we found is that travel communities welcomed this kind of information. These communities are saturated with info about NYC and other high profile vacation spots but really welcomed info about alternative vacation choices like Cleveland.

  2. Mark Hornung from Bernard Hodes Group, April 26, 2010 at 12:45 p.m.

    I doubt that the travel market will rebound completely, at least as far airline travel is concerned. The eroding service levels, heightened security and concomitant long lines at airports, and the uncertainties that occur if your flight is canceled have-- I believe-- made people much more hesitant to fly unless they have to (e.g., Europe, Hawai'i). Until governments and the airlines can improve the hell that is air travel today, that sector will continue to lag.

  3. Kate Lafrance from Hartford Woman Online Magazine, April 26, 2010 at 1 p.m.

    The local living history museum showed a profit for the first time in over a decade this year - so there is an "upside" to the staycation - but, as a parent with a child in their mid-teens and on the verge of leaving the nest, the memories created by family vacations are becoming priceless to me and seem more "valid" when a destination is involved than the staycation ones.

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