Despite concerns about inflation and rising transportation costs, Americans are itching to travel this spring. In fact, a travel survey conducted by RetailMeNot (RMN) (Ziff Davis Shopping) of US adults and RMN shoppers in late 2022 revealed that a whopping 96% of respondents were planning one to three trips for the March-to-May 2023 timeframe.
People are not without their worries. Some 66% of consumers told us that inflation concerns are impacting where and how they travel. The high cost of transportation (gas, flights and rental cars) is driving frustration for 25% of consumers. And, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, COVID is still weighing on the minds of 47% of consumers. That said, none of these factors seem to be keeping people from making big spring travel plans.
Especially encouraging to retailers: a majority of consumers (54%) confirmed they intend to spend more on travel this spring than they did during spring 2022. More specifically, Americans are planning to spend an average of $3,250 across flights, transportation, hotel/lodging and experiences/activities. RMN shoppers, on their end, are even bigger spenders, with an average planned outlay of $4,455 across the same categories.
The knock-on effect for less obvious sectors is worth noting too. For example, 56% of those surveyed intend to buy clothes leading up to their trip while 38% will purchase new shoes. Some 44% will freshen up their toiletries bag. Also in the mix: swimwear, skincare and beauty products, suitcases and electronic accessories.
Two Trends to Watch
Our survey revealed two clear trends among consumers that are likely to shape spring travel forecasts, both of them to be expected among a populace still seeking to fully leave the COVID era behind it.
1. Experiences, Not Things
An increasing number of people are choosing experiences over material items right now, a natural outcome of all the self-reflection people have been through since 2020. Of course, “experiences” mean different things to different people.
For the general population, it means immersing themselves in culture and history. Some 64% of Americans say they plan to experience the places they travel by sightseeing, with 42% planning organized tours and 33% visiting museums. Outdoor activities like hiking (25%) and water sports (16%) will also be on tap this spring.
For many RMN shoppers the focus is instead on disconnecting. Nearly half of RMN shoppers (43%) say the main reason they are traveling is to unplug and unwind. A full 68% cite relaxing as their top travel goal while 22% intend to visit a spa and/or get a massage.
2. So Long, Bleisure Travel
It’s quite clear that travelers this spring will be looking to draw a line between work and play in a way they haven’t since pre-pandemic times. A telling 91% of the general population (and 83% of RMN shoppers) do not plan to work while traveling.
People’s quest for a healthier and more balanced life means saying goodbye to the so-called “bleisure” travel that came to prominence during the work-from-anywhere heart of COVID. Today, even as work flexibility remains for many, consumers are more deliberately looking to keep work in its place. Expect people to make more intentional use of their time off this spring.
Consumer Mindset: Price Matters
Price is an enormous consideration for spring travelers. While pent-up demand for travel is growing after the lifting of travel restrictions, the economy is still top of mind for people. A booking.com survey revealed that more than two-thirds (68%) of people are paying close attention to how much they are spending on their upcoming travel.
Those beginning their travel shopping journey may start with Google but they swiftly move on to sites that help them compare prices and find the best deals. Brands will want to take note and craft their strategy accordingly as we see price being key in pushing consumers down the purchase funnel.
- More than 1 in 3 consumers are likely to make a travel booking decision based on price.
- Some 20% of RMN shoppers (and 8% of the general population) make hotel/lodging booking and purchase decisions based on travel site (aggregators, hotel sites and travel companies) recommendations.
The spike in spring travel provides a golden opportunity for travel sites, airlines and retailers to get in front of shoppers as they prepare for their next vacation. To help consumers maximize savings ahead of their trips, RetailMeNot is launching its Spring Savecation, a travel shopping event with brand partners like VRBO, Hotels.com, Expedia, and more to help shoppers save on upcoming travel necessities on transportation, flights, hotels, fashion, accessories and more.
From March 10 to March 14, we will not only help shoppers find deals on accommodations and transportation but we will ensure maximum savings on all aspects of the getaway, including excursions, road trip snacks, luggage, new attire and more.
During this event, retailers within the travel industry and associated verticals will be well-positioned to market to savvy shoppers through on- and off-site placements and drive incremental revenue at the peak of both trip planning and finalizing.
Here’s to a bright spring for travelers and retailers alike. Goodness knows we’ve earned it.
About the Author
Magali Darling is the Senior Vice President of Sales for Ziff David Shopping.
Source: Ziff Davis Shopping, Q4 2022 Travel Survey. General Population of 1,129. U.S. adults 18+ planning to travel in the spring and summer of 2023. Data collected between Nov. 30 – Dec. 2, 2022.
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