Commentary

Jet-Setters: Their Travel Preferences

As 2014 approaches its final days, no matter the industry, we look towards the New Year with hopes to see improvements. Fortunately for the travel industry, a very positive outlook has been forecast.

MMGY Global, a travel and hospitality marketing communications firm, conducted a survey of 1,250 affluent, leisure travelers in February of this year in an effort to gauge expectations for the upcoming year. Those who participated in the survey were adults living in the United States who had a household income of at least $125,000. Half of the respondents had a household income of $250,000 or more and all had traveled somewhere for an overnight stay at least 75 miles away during the past year. Below is a summary of some of the findings in their 2014 Portrait of Affluent Travelers report.

  • The affluent expect to take more trips in the year ahead. This yields a net nine percent (9%) increase for those in households with an annual income in excess of $250,000, and four percent (4%) more for individuals in households with an income between $125,000 to $249,999 annually.
  • Affluent travelers cited relaxation and enrichment as the most desirable attributes when they travel:
    • 75% cite the desire to have enough time to relax and unwind
    • 64% want to explore new cities and attractions
    • 59% wish to experience different cultures
    • 54% want to enhance their relationships 
  • During the next two years, half of affluent travelers indicated that they are interested in visiting (in descending order of preference): the Hawaiian Neighbor Islands (63%), national parks throughout the country (61%), Honolulu (55%), New York City (52%), San Francisco (51%), Florida Keys (49%) and Napa Valley (47%).
  • Sixty percent of affluent travelers are interested in travel to Europe during the next two years. The countries that rise to the top of this list include Italy (41%), England (40%) and France (38%). 
  • Fifty percent of affluent travelers are interested in visiting the Caribbean, specifically the U.S. Virgin Islands (27%); the Bahamas (25%); and the Cayman Islands, St. Maarten and Aruba (each at 23%). 
  • More than 30% of affluent travelers are interested in visiting Oceana, especially Australia (32%), New Zealand (29%) and Fiji (18%). Twenty five percent (25%) would like to visit South America and Mexico.

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With all of this being said, it is important to take note of the sources most frequently visited for finding information pertaining to affluents’ travel inquiries. The MMGY report informs that more than 30% of affluent travelers visited an online community, travel forum or blog during the past 12 months to seek or review information about a destination or travel service provider. Among them, 75% prefer to read individual reviews rather than rely on a rating alone but will not consider hotels or restaurants with low online quality ratings, and nearly 60% generally believe these ratings that they see online. Leveraging affluent travel blog influencers may certainly help to drive awareness for the jet-setters in 2015.

3 comments about "Jet-Setters: Their Travel Preferences".
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  1. Ron Kurtz from American Affluence Research Center, December 24, 2014 at 11:15 a.m.

    I often wonder if marketers really pay attention to and understand consumer research. The MMGY Global Portrait of Affluent travelers is very good research. However, the report provided an outlook for travel for 12 months from February 2014. The author of this article seems to be using the research to provide an outlook for 2015.

  2. Peter Zajonc from Epsilon, December 29, 2014 at 11:16 a.m.

    What is the size of the affluent leisure travel market in terms of US households?

  3. Ron Kurtz from American Affluence Research Center, January 5, 2015 at 10:35 p.m.

    I guess that depends on how you define "affluent". The wealthiest 10% of U.S. households based on net worth, which is a much better and more stable indicator of wealth than income, all have a minimum net worth of $924,000 and they number 12.2 million households. This is from the latest Federal Reserve Board research, which is the most accurate source of the distribution of wealth in the U.S.

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