In 2015, only 26% of U.S. leisure travelers chose their destination based on a prior experience, down five points from 2014, according to U.S. Consumer Travel Report Eighth Edition, a new report from travel industry research authority, Phocuswright.
This dip means travelers are looking for new places to visit and unique experiences to check off the bucket list. This shift can be attributed to several factors, like bigger budgets, traveler age, and the impact of social media on trip motivation.
“Leisure travelers have many reasons for packing their bags and heading off to destinations away from home,” says Phocuswright research analyst, Brandie Wright.
“Many find vacations as a necessary means to escape daily life, a way to recharge their batteries and spend valuable time away with family, friends, or even alone. Most of these trips are planned well in advance and taken to familiar destinations, places that are tried and true and easily accessed from the United States.”
However, the report finds that significantly more travelers were motivated to take trips to fulfill personal desires, such as to see natural attractions, attend a specific event, or learn about how people live in other parts of the world.
“All of this can be seen through the destinations that travelers visited last year,” states Wright. “Many nearby beach destinations – like Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean Islands – dropped in popularity. Far-flung destinations such as Europe, Asia, and Central and South America – where natural attractions abound – received quite a boost: a 10%, 46%, 21% increase, respectively.”
Travelers spent an average of 23% more on trips last year compared to three years ago. Bigger budgets mean travelers can afford to spend more on long-haul flights and a few extra nights in a hotel while across the globe.
The age of social media has brought new standards to the travel experience. One person’s retreat can lead to the motivations of another, who may then book an excursion that sets the bar even higher.