Commentary

Why A Rise In Hispanic Travel Could Mean A Win For The Travel Industry

Summer is in full swing! The kids are out of school, the temperature is rising, and many of us have a stack of unused vacation days just waiting to be redeemed. So we pack up the car, fill up the tank, and hit the road.

And while the U.S. has long been branded a “no-vacation nation,” a recent study suggests otherwise. According to a nationwide study we conducted, 79% of non-Hispanic Americans say they take one or more vacations each year. Among U.S. Hispanics, the fastest growing demographic in the country, the results were the same, 79%.

So what does this mean to the travel industry? 

It’s simple. Don’t ignore the Hispanic market. And here’s why…

Of the 79% of Hispanics who vacation at least once a year, 17% said they vacation three to six times each year. And for affluent Hispanics (HHI > $100k), 46% vacation three to six times every year, with reported spending upwards of $8,700 on average for international vacations compared to about $7,000 spent by affluent non-Hispanics. 

As expected, the likelihood of traveling increases with income. In the past year, nine in ten upscale Hispanics (HHI = $50K-$99K) reported traveling in the past year; this was nearly 100% among the affluent group. 

But leisure travel among Hispanics isn’t reserved for the wealthy. It has grown and continues to do so across the board. Regardless of income, Hispanics spend more money on average than non-Hispanics on domestic vacations, with 48% saying they spend $5,000 or more (including 9% that spend more than $10,000). 

The study suggests that this occurs for a couple different reasons. First, Hispanics are more likely to fly to their destinations. Second, they have larger families and tend to travel with four or more people. The hallmark of the Hispanic culture is its commitment to family, which translates into domestic multi-generational trips to visit friends and family in areas with higher Hispanic populations, such as California, Florida, Nevada, and Texas.

During these trips, Hispanic travelers are more likely to visit theme parks and casinos. So, it’s no surprise to find California (Disney Land), Florida (Disney World) and Nevada (The Vegas Strip) rounding out the top three.

Overall, Hispanics are significantly more likely than non-Hispanics to take vacations outside of the U.S., although there is less of a difference among affluent travelers. Top destinations are the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America. Affluent Hispanics are more likely than lower-income Hispanics to travel to Western Europe (England, France, Spain) and Australia. 

While traveling, Hispanics are more likely than non-Hispanics to report staying in many different hotel chains, regardless of income level. When asked about hotel stays in the past 12 months, the top choices were: Holiday Inn (23%), Best Western (20%), Hilton (17%), Comfort Inn (16%), and Marriott (16%).

Because they travel more frequently, affluent Hispanics not only stayed in hotels more often, but added two other chains to their list – Embassy Suites and Hyatt.

With buying power looking to top $1.5 trillion next year, the extensive travel among Hispanics impacts various segments of the economy – from hotels, air and cruise lines, and restaurants to theme parks, sporting events, and cultural activities – presenting a tremendous opportunity for the travel industry to not only get Hispanic travelers to their destinations, but to make a lasting impression on them that will pay dividends for years to come.

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