Single Hottest Travel Trend is European River Cruising

European river cruises crack the international Top 5; “up-and-coming” destinations include Myanmar (Burma), Maldives, and Seychelles; and Las Vegas regains top domestic ranking.

Plymouth, MN (December 19, 2013) – Today, Travel Leaders Group unveiled the 2014 results of its authoritative annual Travel Trends Survey.  Based on the findings, the single, hottest destination trend in travel is European river cruising – having landed in the Top 5 international destinations for the first time ever (it ranked 21st just three years ago).  The overall top domestic and international destinations for the coming year are Las Vegas and Caribbean cruises, respectively. This year’s survey results also reveal that 85.7% of agents indicate that 2014 bookings are on par or greater than this time one year ago and 94% of those surveyed state client spending will be the same or higher in the coming year.

This survey, based on actual booking data, was conducted by Travel Leaders Group from November 11 – December 14, 2013, and includes responses from 1,358 U.S.-based travel agency owners, managers and frontline travel agents from the flagship Travel Leaders brand, along with those affiliated with Travel Leaders Group’s Luxury Travel Network, Nexion, Results! Travel, Travel Leaders Corporate, Tzell Travel Group and Vacation.com units.

“If Europe could find a way to create additional scenic rivers, the travel industry – and, in particular, our agents – would be sending even more clients on European river cruises. Demand is definitely outpacing supply even as major river cruise lines build more ships. The continued success of river cruising is just one of many positive stories heading into the New Year,” stated Travel Leaders Group CEO Barry Liben.  “Just yesterday the Federal Reserve said it would be reducing its stimulus program because of the improvement in the ‘labor market.’ Ninety-four percent of our agents indicate that clients will be spending the same or more on travel in 2014, which certainly correlates to government statistics in that a significant number of people are quite confident and comfortable in spending more of their discretionary income on travel in the coming year.”

“Also exciting in our results are the unique destinations that are starting to gain a foothold with our Travel Leaders Group clients as the ‘next great’ place to visit,” added Liben. “At one time, Burma seemed off-limits due to its former government. But since its peaceful transition in 2010 to a civilian reformist government, this still relatively isolated nation is really opening up to tourism, and a growing number of American travelers are responding to its truly exotic allure.”

Below are some of the top findings from this year’s Travel Leaders Group Travel Trends Survey including: top international and domestic destinations, “up and coming” destinations, travel spending data, and more.

Top “Up and Coming” International Destinations:

When asked for their expert findings, Travel Leaders Group agents nationally indicate the following as the “up and coming” international destinations within Europe, the Pacific, Asia/Southeast Asia and Central/South America.

  • Europe “Up and Coming”: Croatia (25.6%), Iceland (14.8%), Turkey (13.6%), Czech Republic (12.1%) and Portugal (12.0%).  Last year Iceland was fifth on this list with 9.9%. Delta Air Lines began serving Iceland’s capital of Reykjavik in 2013 and will resume service for Summer 2014. In 2012, Travel Leaders held its annual International Summit in Dubrovnik, Croatia; the exclusive travel agent event for 2014 is scheduled for Istanbul, Turkey.
  • Pacific “Up and Coming”:  New Zealand (30.1%), Tahiti (16.9%), Fiji (13.0%), Bora Bora (11.5%), and Australia – Queensland (5.9%).  New Zealand continues to capture the public imagination through high profile films like this year’s “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” Last year Fiji was second on the list and Tahiti was third.  It should also be noted that if Australia wasn’t broken out by state, it would be second behind New Zealand with 18.1%.
  • Asia/Southeast Asia “Up and Coming”: Vietnam (38.0%), Burma/Myanmar (11.9%), Maldives (11.4%), Seychelles (8.6%), and Indonesia (7.4%). Last year the list, in order, was: Vietnam, Indonesia, Burma/Myanmar, Cambodia, and Malaysia. With Burma gradually opening to more visitors, including through river cruise options, it has increased substantially in popularity.
  • Central/South America “Up and Coming”: Peru (17.6%), Brazil (16.8%), Panama (16.3%), Ecuador and Galapagos Islands (16.0%), and Argentina (12.2%). Peru is increasingly on more “bucket lists” thanks to Machu Picchu, while Brazil is hosting the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. Last year the list, in order, was Ecuador and Galapagos Islands, Panama, Peru, Brazil, and Argentina.

Travel Spending in 2014:

Based on bookings-to-date for 2014 and conversations with clients, 94% of Travel Leaders Group agents surveyed say clients will spend the same or more on travel in 2014. That percentage is up over 2013 (92.2%) and 2012 (91.3%) in terms of those saying clients will be spending more than the previous year.

2014

2013

Spending MORE per trip than   the previous year

52.6%

53.1%

Spending THE SAME per trip   as the previous year

41.4%

39.1%

Spending LESS per trip than   the previous year

6.0%

7.8%

 

Top Destinations: U.S. and International Based on Actual 2014 Bookings:

The following lists display the top domestic and international destinations for 2014, along with rankings from the 2013 survey conducted one year ago (agents were asked to name up to five top destinations they’re already booking for 2014):

Rank

2014 Top Domestic   Destinations

Rank ’13

1

Las Vegas, NV

41.5%

2

2

Orlando, FL

41.0%

1

3

Maui, HI

39.7%

3 (tie)

4

Cruise – Alaska

38.3%

3 (tie)

5

New York City, NY

33.7%

5

6

Honolulu, HI

28.9%

6

7

San Francisco, CA

15.6%

7

8

Fort Lauderdale, FL

13.1%

11

9

Cruise – Hawaii

12.9%

12

10

Los Angeles, CA

12.8%

10

 

Rank

2014 Top   International Destinations

Rank ’13

1

CRUISE – Caribbean

43.5%

1

2

Cancun, Mexico

38.0%

2

3

CRUISE – Europe   (Mediterranean)

26.7%

3

4

Rome, Italy

22.9%

4

5

CRUISE – Europe (River)

21.9%

8

6

London, England

20.3%

5

7

Punta Cana, Dominican   Republic

18.1%

6

8

Paris, France

16.3%

9 (tie)

9

Playa del Carmen/Riviera   Maya, Mexico

15.6%

7

10

Montego Bay, Jamaica

12.6%

9 (tie)

 

Personal Favorite Destinations of Travel Experts:

As travel experts, those participating in the survey have a multitude of experience based on their own personal travel.  So, we also asked our Travel Leaders Group agents to identify their top personal favorite domestic and international destinations.  (Each respondent was allowed to select up to three destinations.)

1

Maui, HI

42.6%

2

Cruise – Alaska

36.2%

3

New York City, NY

25.2%

4

Las Vegas, NV

23.8%

5

Orlando, FL

20.6%

 

1

CRUISE – Europe (River)

28.3%

2

CRUISE – Europe   (Mediterranean)

26.2%

3

CRUISE – Caribbean

26.0%

4

London, England

19.3%

5

Rome, Italy

18.3%

 

Comparing your overall 2014 bookings so far to your 2013 bookings at this time last year, which is true?

2014 Response

2014%

2013%

2012%

2011%

2010%

They’re Higher

48.1

45.7

39.5

50.3

28.2

They’re About Even

37.7

36.4

40.8

30.7

34.0

They’re Lower

14.4

17.9

19.7

19.0

37.8

 

What is your personal outlook on your business in 2014?

2014 Response

2014%

2013%

2012%

2011%

2010%

Optimistic

83.0

78.7

78.8

80.3

75.8

Neither optimistic nor pessimistic

14.2

16.0

17.3

15.0

16.5

Pessimistic

2.8

5.3

3.9

4.7

7.7

 

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About Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group (www.travelleadersgroup.com) is transforming travel with a commitment to our vacation and business travel clients via our progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Having already assisted millions of travelers – through our beginnings as Carlson Leisure Group, a division of Carlson Companies, TraveLeaders and Tzell Travel Group and through the additions of Nexion, Vacation.com and Protravel International – Travel Leaders Group manages leisure, business and franchise travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands. With annual sales of approximately $18 billion, Travel Leaders Group not only ranks as the #1 corporate travel management company by Business Travel News, but it is also among the top ten travel companies on the 2013 Travel Weekly Power List. Entrepreneur ranks a Travel Leaders Franchise Brand #1 in the category of “Travel Agencies-Miscellaneous” on its just released 2014 Franchise 500 list.