An Increasing Majority of Americans Say Their Outlook on the U.S. Economy Won’t Stand in the Way of Their Summer Travel Plans

Business People Airport Beach Waiting Flight Corporate Concept

NEW YORK, N.Y. – With the weather finally on the upswing after what was a harrowing winter for many, Americans are undoubtedly looking to make the most of their summers. Some are predicting that summer travel on U.S. airlines will reach an all-time high this year, and a recent Harris Poll sees similar highs ahead for the U.S. travel industry. Nearly seven in ten Americans (68%) have at least one leisure trip planned for summer 2015 (May through August), a slight increase from the 66% who planned one last year and an overall steady growth rate since the six in ten (60%) who planned a trip three years ago for summer 2012.

Americans’ outlook on the economy isn’t acting as a barrier when it comes to summer travel. More than half of Americans (53%) say their outlook on the U.S. economy has no impact on their likelihood to travel this summer – an overall 13% improvement from when this question was first asked six years ago (40% in 2009) – and an additional 9% say their outlook on the economy will make them more likely to travel. Twenty seven percent still say they’re less likely to travel this summer due to their outlook on the U.S. economy, but that percentage continues to decrease year over year.

These are among the findings from a Harris Poll of 2,215 U.S. adults (aged 18 and older) surveyed online from April 16-20, 2015.

Business travel, however, has yet to make a similar recovery, with just 15% of Americans planning at least one business trip. While relatively unchanged from last year’s 14%, it’s a cumulative eight-point drop compared to six years ago (23% in 2009).

Regardless the type of travel, Americans plan to spend upwards of $1,500 on their trips, on average. Those planning summer leisure travel anticipate spending an average of $1,722 on their trips while those anticipating a business trip plan to spend $1,513, on average.

Location, location, location

When those planning at least one leisure trip over the summer are asked what types of destinations they plan to visit, beach locations (43%) rise to the top. In a distant second place, vacationers will visit the downtown/center of a city (32%), followed by a national/state park (24%) and countryside/rural locations (22%). Two in ten are planning to hit a mountain location (21%), a suburban area (20%), or a theme park (19%), and 16% plan to find themselves on a leisure/discovery vacation (e.g., spa, wine country, golf or other unique attraction).

  • Millennials are more likely than any other generation to be planning a downtown/center of a city vacation (40% vs. 27% Gen X, 28% Baby Boomers, & 26% Matures).
  • Not too surprisingly, adults with mini vacationers in tow have some differing preferences:  those in households with children are more likely than those without to be planning a trip to a beach (52% with, 38% without) or theme park (31% with, 13% without) location.
  • It’s unclear whether convenience is key or if there’s just no such thing as too much fresh air, but those living in rural areas are more likely to be planning trips to a national/state park (35% rural vs. 22% urban & suburban).

Ups and downs of air travel

It’s well known that traveling by air isn’t always smooth sailing. Nineteen percent of air travelers say they had at least one airline trip cancelled or severely disrupted by weather during the past winter, and 15% plan to take a vacation this summer to “make up” for one cancelled or affected by winter weather.

However, this certainly doesn’t stop Americans from taking advantage of the ability to fly and some of these flyers might be in for a new in-flight experience. Recent rule changes now allow use of some electronics during takeoff and landing. Just over one-third (35%) of adults and air travelers alike agree this new rule makes them nervous.

Meanwhile, 38% of adults and 44% of air travelers want even more leeway, agreeing that airlines should allow passengers to use their mobile phones on flights. Not everyone agrees on this sentiment, however. Over half of adults (53%) and over six-in-ten air travelers (63%) agree the ban on cell phone calls on airplanes gives them a much-needed reprieve.

 

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

Total 2015

%

%

%

%

%

%

0 Trips

35

34

39

36

34

32

1+ Trips (NET)

65

66

60

64

66

68

1-2 Trips

48

47

45

44

45

50

3-4 Trips

15*

13

9

12

14

13

5+ Trips

2*

6

6

8

7

5

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

Total 2015

%

%

%

%

%

%

0 Trips

77

81

81

83

86

85

1+ Trips (NET)

23

19

19

17

14

15

1-2 Trips

9*

13

12

11

9

10

3-4 Trips

11*

3

3

3

2

2

5+ Trips

3*

3

4

3

3

2

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

68

69

68

89

46

1+ Business Trips

15

22

8

19

10

 

 

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 2015

Mean anticipated leisure travel spending

$1,722

Mean anticipated business travel spending

$1,513

 

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

43

51

45

38

29

42

44

52

38

44

42

46

Downtown/Center of a city

32

40

27

28

26

34

29

31

32

32

32

30

National/State Park

24

27

26

21

22

29

20

28

23

22

22

35

Countryside/Rural

22

20

14

26

32

26

18

16

26

20

22

27

Mountain location

21

22

20

19

27

22

21

20

22

19

20

27

Suburban / On the edge of a large or small city

20

16

17

22

26

18

21

15

22

23

19

15

Theme park

19

29

23

11

5

20

19

31

13

18

19

21

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

16

19

18

14

14

19

14

19

15

16

17

17

International location

11

15

9

10

8

13

9

7

13

15

11

7

Cruise

9

12

3

9

7

11

7

10

8

8

9

11

Family (reunion, hometown, wedding, etc.)

6

3

3

8

11

4

7

5

6

7

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

Total 2015

%

%

%

%

%

%

More likely (NET)

7

6

8

6

6

9

I am much more likely to travel

3

3

3

2

2

3

   I am somewhat more likely to travel

4

3

5

4

4

6

No impact on my likelihood to travel

40

46

44

43

51

53

Less likely (NET)

41

36

36

34

29

27

I am somewhat less likely to travel

23

20

17

19

17

16

  I am much less likely to travel

18

16

19

15

13

11

I have no plans to travel

12

13

13

17

13

11

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 2014)?”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Gender

Male

Female

%

%

%

Yes

52

55

50

No

48

45

50

 

TABLE 8

AIR TRAVEL FREQUENCY

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

Base: All adults

 

Total

2014

Total 2015

%

%

Never

35

28

Less than once a year

28

31

Once a year or more (NET)

38

41

About once a year

15

17

2-3 times a year

16

18

Every 2-3 months

4

5

About once a month

1

1

More than once a month

1

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

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

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

53

26

26

29

15

15

18

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

38

13

25

49

22

27

12

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

35

13

22

52

21

31

13

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

11

4

6

79

12

68

10

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

10

5

5

82

6

75

9

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

%

%

%

%

 

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

53

57

53

63

 

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

38

39

50

44

 

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

35

36

36

35

 

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

11

12

22

15

 

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

10

12

22

19

 

 

 
Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between April 16 and 20, 2015 among 2,215 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® #27, May 26, 2015

By Allyssa Birth, Senior Research Analyst, The Harris Poll