Fewer Americans Letting Their Outlook on the Economy Impact Summer Travel Plans

    NEW YORK, N.Y. – June 2, 2014 – Two-thirds of Americans (66%) have at least one leisure trip planned for the summer of 2014 (May through August), a slight increase from 64% last year and a more notable growth when compared to the 60% who were planning a summer leisure trip two years ago. Whether it’s a reflection of an improving economy, or merely resignation that it is what it is and we should all get on with our lives, fewer U.S. adults are forestalling vacation plans due to their outlook on the U.S. economy.

    Three in ten Americans (29%) say they’re less likely to travel this summer due to their outlook on the U.S. economy, down five percentage points from last year and an encouraging 12 points from five years ago. Indications that their outlook on the economy has not impacted their likelihood to travel show (51%) corresponding growth, up eight points from last year and eleven points from five years ago.

    These are among the findings from a Harris Poll of 2,300 U.S. adults (aged 18 and older) surveyed online from April 16-21, 2014.

    Business travel plans for the coming summer show a marked contrast to leisure travel plans, with the 14% of Americans planning at least one business trip representing a three-point drop since last year and a nine-point slide compared to five years ago.

    When it comes to anticipated spending, there are again signs that Americans are feeling more secure. Those planning summer leisure travel anticipate spending an average of $1,779 on their trip(s), up over $100 from the average of $1,665 last summer’s travelers were expecting to spend. And while anticipated business travel may be down overall, the average summer travel spending for those who do plan on taking business trips is up by more than $400, from $2,231 last year to $2,665 this year.

    Sunny outlook for hitting the beach

    When those planning one or more leisure trips over the summer are asked what type(s) of destination they plan to visit, beach locations (44%) are the top response by a wide margin, followed by downtown/center of a city (30%), national/state park (27%) and countryside/rural locations (24%). Roughly two in ten are planning to hit a mountain location (20%), a suburban area (20%), or a theme park (18%) or to go on a leisure/discovery type vacation (17%).

    Men are more likely than women to be planning a visit to a downtown/center of city location (34% men vs. 26% women), while those in households with children are more likely than those without to be planning a trip to a beach (53% with, 41% without) or theme park (33% with, 13% without) location.

    While vacations are often seen as an opportunity to try something new or step outside one’s everyday routine, one finding of interest is that many Americans are gravitating toward destinations that might remind them of home. Urbanites are significantly more likely than their rural counterparts to be planning leisure travel to a downtown/center of city location (37% urban vs. 23% rural), while those living in rural areas are more likely to be planning trips to countryside/rural locations (31% rural vs. 22% urban).

    Air travel highs and lows

    If our ancestors of just two to three generations ago could glimpse the ease with which Americans can hop from one coast to the other or shuttle between urban centers, they’d surely gape in wonder at the state of modern air travel. That being said, Americans do have some points of contention with the industry, as well as some lines of advancement they’re not interested in crossing.

    Three-fourths of Americans (76%) and the vast majority of those who travel by commercial air at least once a year (86%) say they’re frustrated by all the taxes and fees that get added onto the cost of air travel, and one in four air travelers (26%) report having had at least one airline trip cancelled or severely disrupted by weather during the past winter.

    Looking at those who most need to optimize their tray table space when they take to the air, over one in four (27%) of those planning at least one business trip this summer say they’d pay extra for a seat in a working on the go section where seats don’t recline, indicating a strong desire among some travelers to reclaim their in-flight workspace.

    And on the technological front, sentiments are mixed. On the one hand, there seems to be a certain level of expectation present, with two-thirds of U.S. adults (67%) and over three-fourths of air travelers (77%) expecting WiFi on airplanes to be provided for free. On the other hand, many don’t want their seatmates taking advantage of that free WiFi too soon, as nearly four in ten (38%) say the new rules allowing electronics to be on during takeoff and landing make them nervous.

    Whenever those smartphones are turned on, majorities of Americans clearly want them kept in airplane mode only. Nearly six in ten U.S. adults (58%) and over seven in ten air travelers (71%) say the ban on cell phone calls on airplanes gives them a much-needed reprieve, and over half of Americans (53%) don’t think airlines should allow passengers to use their mobile phones on flights.

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    TABLE 1

    LEISURE TRIPS PLANNED

    How many leisure and/or business trips do you anticipate taking over the summer (May – August)?

    Percent planning leisure trips

    Base: All adults

    Total 2009

    Total 2010

    Total 2012

    Total 2013

    Total 2014

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    0 Trips

    35

    34

    39

    36

    34

    1+ Trips (NET)

    65

    66

    60

    64

    66

    1-2 Trips

    48

    47

    45

    44

    45

    3-4 Trips

    15

    13

    9

    12

    14

    5+ Trips

    2

    6

    6

    8

    7

    Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding;

    In 2009 the nets were taken of 3-5 trips and 6+ trips, respectively.

     

    TABLE 2

    BUSINESS TRIPS PLANNED

    How many leisure and/or business trips do you anticipate taking over the summer (May – August)?

    Percent planning business trips

    Base: All adults

    Total 2009

    Total 2010

    Total 2012

    Total 2013

    Total 2014

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    0 Trips

    77

    81

    81

    83

    86

    1+ Trips (NET)

    23

    19

    19

    17

    14

    1-2 Trips

    9

    13

    12

    11

    9

    3-4 Trips

    11

    3

    3

    3

    2

    5+ Trips

    3

    3

    4

    3

    3

    Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding;

    In 2009 the nets were taken of 1 trip, 2-5 trips, and 6+ trips, respectively.

     

    TABLE 3

    PLANNING 1+ LEISURE/BUSINESS TRIPS

    By Gender & Leisure Travel Last Summer

    How many leisure and/or business trips do you anticipate taking over the summer (May – August)?

    Base: All adults

    Total

    Gender

    Traveled for Leisure Last Summer

    Male

    Female

    Yes

    No

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    1+ Leisure Trips

    66

    69

    63

    90

    40

    1+ Business Trips

    14

    18

    10

    20

    7

     

    TABLE 4

    ANTICIPATED SPENDING ON PLANNED LEISURE/BUSINESS TRIPS

    Approximately how much do you anticipate you will spend in total on leisure/business travel over the summer (May-August)?

    Base: Plan on traveling May-Aug

    Total 2013

    Total 2014

    Mean anticipated leisure travel spending

    $1,665

    $1,779

    Mean anticipated business travel spending

    $2,231

    $2,665

     

    TABLE 5

    TYPE OF VACATION DESTINATION – Mentions over 3%

    By Generation, Gender, Children <18 in HH & Metro Status

    To which of the following types of destinations do you plan on vacationing this summer?

    Base: Plan on taking 1+ leisure trips over the summer

    Total

    Generation

    Gender

    Children in HH

    Metro Status

    Millennials (18-36)

    Gen Xers (37-48)

    Baby Boomers (49-67)

    Matures (68+)

    Male

    Female

    Yes

    No

    Urban

    Suburban

    Rural

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Beach location

    44

    52

    53

    38

    23

    43

    45

    53

    41

    39

    48

    41

    Downtown/Center of a city

    30

    38

    27

    26

    25

    34

    26

    31

    30

    37

    30

    23

    National/State Park

    27

    34

    27

    23

    19

    27

    27

    33

    25

    24

    26

    32

    Countryside/Rural

    24

    23

    20

    27

    24

    23

    25

    22

    25

    22

    22

    31

    Mountain location

    20

    24

    23

    18

    15

    20

    21

    22

    20

    21

    19

    22

    Suburban / On the edge of a large or small city

    20

    21

    17

    19

    26

    21

    19

    17

    21

    22

    20

    18

    Theme park

    18

    26

    23

    14

    5

    19

    17

    33

    13

    21

    19

    13

    Leisure/Discovery (destination in which the primary attraction is a spa, wine country, golf or other unique attractions)

    17

    21

    14

    15

    14

    18

    16

    18

    16

    19

    17

    15

    International location

    10

    9

    11

    10

    12

    11

    9

    10

    10

    14

    10

    6

    Cruise

    8

    8

    9

    9

    8

    9

    8

    12

    7

    12

    9

    4

    Family (reunion, hometown, wedding, etc.)

    6

    2

    3

    6

    17

    3

    8

    2

    7

    6

    5

    7

    Note: Multiple responses allowed.


    TABLE 6

    IMPACT OF U.S. ECONOMIC OUTLOOK ON LIKELIHOOD TO TRAVEL IN NEXT 4 MONTHS

    How does your outlook on the U.S. economy impact your likelihood to travel over the summer (May-August)?

    Base: All adults

    Total 2009

    Total 2010

    Total 2012

    Total 2013

    Total 2014

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    More likely (NET)

    7

    6

    8

    6

    6

    I am much more likely to travel

    3

    3

    3

    2

    2

    I am somewhat more likely to travel

    4

    3

    5

    4

    4

    No impact on my likelihood to travel

    40

    46

    44

    43

    51

    I am somewhat less likely to travel

    23

    20

    17

    19

    17

    I am much less likely to travel

    18

    16

    19

    15

    13

    Less likely (NET)

    41

    36

    36

    34

    29

    I have no plans to travel

    12

    13

    13

    17

    13

    Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding.

     

    TABLE 7

    TRAVELED FOR LEISURE LAST SUMMER

    By Gender

    Did you travel for leisure last summer (May – August)?

    Base: All adults

    Total

    Gender

    Male

    Female

    %

    %

    %

    Yes

    52

    56

    48

    No

    48

    44

    52

     

    TABLE 8

    AIR TRAVEL FREQUENCY

    How often do you typically travel by commercial airline, whether for business or personal reasons?

    Base: All adults

    Total

    %

    Never

    35

    Less than once a year

    28

    Once a year or more (NET)

    38

    About once a year

    15

    2-3 times a year

    16

    Every 2-3 months

    4

    About once a month

    1

    More than once a month

    1

    Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding.


    TABLE 9a

    AGREE/DISAGREE WITH TRAVEL STATEMENTS

    Summary Table

    Please indicate how much you agree or disagree with the following statements.

    Base: All adults

    AGREE (NET)

    Strongly agree

    Somewhat agree

    DISAGREE (NET)

    Somewhat disagree

    Strongly disagree

    Not at all sure

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    I’m frustrated by all the taxes and fees that get added onto the cost of air travel.

    76

    53

    23

    10

    5

    6

    13

    I expect WiFi on airplanes to be provided for free.

    67

    41

    26

    17

    8

    9

    16

    The ban on cell phone calls on airplanes gives me a much-needed reprieve.

    58

    35

    23

    24

    13

    11

    18

    The new rules allowing electronics to be on during takeoff and landing make me nervous.

    38

    18

    21

    46

    22

    24

    15

    I think airlines should allow passengers to use their mobile phones on flights.

    32

    11

    21

    53

    21

    32

    14

    I would pay extra for a seat in a working on the go section where seats don’t recline.

    15

    3

    12

    69

    20

    48

    16

    I had at least one airline trip cancelled or severely disrupted by weather during the past winter.

    14

    7

    6

    73

    6

    68

    13

    I plan to take a vacation this summer to make up for one cancelled or affected by weather over the winter.

    11

    4

    7

    76

    13

    63

    13

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

     

    TABLE 9b

    AGREE WITH TRAVEL STATEMENTS – By Travel Habits, Travel Plans

    How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

    Percent saying Strongly/Somewhat Agree

    Base: All adults

    Total

    1+ leisure trips planned this summer

    1+ business trips planned this summer

    Travel by airline 1+ times/yr

    %

    %

    %

    %

    I’m frustrated by all the taxes and fees that get added onto the cost of air travel.

    76

    83

    83

    86

    I expect WiFi on airplanes to be provided for free.

    67

    73

    71

    77

    The ban on cell phone calls on airplanes gives me a much-needed reprieve.

    58

    62

    63

    71

    The new rules allowing electronics to be on during takeoff and landing make me nervous.

    38

    38

    39

    39

    I think airlines should allow passengers to use their mobile phones on flights.

    32

    32

    43

    31

    I would pay extra for a seat in a working on the go section where seats don’t recline.

    15

    16

    27

    19

    I had at least one airline trip cancelled or severely disrupted by weather during the past winter.

    14

    17

    30

    26

    I plan to take a vacation this summer to make up for one cancelled or affected by weather over the winter.

    11

    13

    23

    16

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between April 16 and 21, 2014 among 2,300 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

    Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

    The Harris Poll¨ #52, June 2, 2014

    By Larry Shannon-Missal, Manager, Harris Poll Content

    About Nielsen & The Harris Poll

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