European river cruises, London and other European destinations show staying power;
Vacation spending dip reflects U.S. dollar strength and low fuel prices.

Plymouth, MN (December 16, 2015) – Based on the findings from Travel Leaders Group’s authoritative 2016 Travel Trends Survey released today, Orlando narrowly edges out Maui and Alaska cruises as the top ranked domestic destination being booked for 2016 – a mere six-tenths of a percentage point separates the three. Among international destinations, European river cruising continues its march up the ranks, just behind Caribbean cruising and Cancun, Mexico. Additional survey findings show Paris slipping slightly, falling to #11. The results also reveal that 94.9% of travel agents surveyed state client spending will be the same or higher in the coming year and 85.2% of agents indicate that 2016 bookings are on par or greater than this time one year ago.

Based on actual booking data, Travel Leaders Group’s survey was conducted November 17 – December 8, 2015, with responses from 1,316 U.S.-based travel agency owners, managers and frontline travel agents from the flagship Travel Leaders brand and Travel Leaders Group’s All Aboard Travel, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, Results! Travel, Travel Leaders Corporate, Tzell Travel Group and Vacation.com units.

“Overall, the trends are very positive, yet a spotlight continues to shine on Paris,” stated Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko. “However, with less than a percentage point separating Paris from Mexico’s Riviera Maya at #10, it’s more telling that an overwhelming majority of our agents indicated they’d travel to Paris given the opportunity – an endorsement not only for the famed city, but also for not allowing fear to dictate our lives.”

Chacko added, “Year-over-year bookings are strong heading into 2016, reflecting the psyche of the American traveler and the continued belief that travel is viewed as a right versus a luxury. The positive booking data also reflects how our agents work to exceed each client’s individual travel needs and comfort levels.”

Key findings from Travel Leaders Group’s 2016 Travel Trends Survey include top international and domestic destinations, France travel, travel spending data, and more.

Top 2016 U.S. and International Destinations:

For the top domestic and international destinations for 2016, agents were asked to name up to five top destinations they’re already booking:

Rank 2016 Top U.S. Destinations Rank ‘15
1 Orlando, FL 35.9% 2
2 Maui, HI 35.8% 3
3 Cruise – Alaska 35.3% 1
4 New York, NY 30.6% 4
5 Las Vegas, NV 28.8% 5
6 Honolulu, HI 21.5% 6
7 Los Angeles, CA 16.0% 9
8 San Francisco, CA 15.1% 7
9 Chicago, IL 14.3% 8
10 Miami/Miami Beach, FL 13.9% 11

 

Rank 2016 Top International Destinations Rank ‘15
1 CRUISE – Caribbean 42.9% 1
2 Cancun, Mexico 35.1% 2
3 CRUISE – Europe (River) 24.4% 4
4 London, U.K. 23.5% 3
5 Punta Cana, Dominican Republic 19.8% 8
6 Rome, Italy 19.5% 5
7 CRUISE – Europe (Mediterranean) 18.2% 6
8 Florence/Tuscany, Italy 13.7% 12
9 Montego Bay, Jamaica 12.3% 9
10 Playa del Carmen/Riviera Maya, Mexico 11.6% 10
  • Paris dropped out of the Top 10 for the first time since 2011.
  • Paris Yearly Rankings: #11 (2016), #7 (2015), #8 (2014), #9 (2013), #8 (2012), #11 (2011), #8 (2010), #13 (2009), #13 (2008), #14 (2007), #14 (2006) #15 (2005)

France Travel:

Travel Leaders Group agents provided insights on how November’s terrorist incident in Paris is impacting bookings, as well as whether they’d travel to Paris and France.
When asked, “Have the events unfolding in France caused your clients to cancel or delay travel to France?” Travel Leaders Group travel agents’ responded:

“No, not at all; my clients are continuing with their immediate travel plans.” 14.3%
“No, not at all; my clients are continuing with their future/long-term travel plans.” 20.0%
“Yes, a small percentage of my clients are delaying their trips.” 10.0%
“Yes, a large percentage of my clients are delaying their trips.” 0.8%
“Yes, a few clients have cancelled their trips.” 6.0%
“Yes, some clients have cancelled their trips.” 2.6%
“Yes, a significant number of clients have cancelled their trips.” 0.8%
  • The remaining agents didn’t currently have any bookings for France – not atypical for November/early December bookings.

 

When asked, “In light of the recent events in Paris, would you, personally, still travel to France at this time?” Travel Leaders Group travel agents’ said:

“Yes, I’m traveling there before the end of the year.” 1.5%
“Yes, absolutely.” 41.6%
“Yes, but cautiously.” 31.8%
“Maybe.” 14.0%

 

When asked, “More specifically, in light of the recent events, would you, personally, still travel to Paris at this time?” Travel Leaders Group travel agents’ replied:

“Yes, I’m traveling there before the end of the year.” 1.2%
“Yes, absolutely.” 35.6%
“Yes, but cautiously.” 33.7%
“Maybe.” 15.0%

 

2016 Travel Spending:

Based on 2016 bookings-to-date and conversations with clients, 94.9% of Travel Leaders Group agents say clients will spend the same or more on travel in 2016.

“Heading into 2016, American travelers benefit from the strength of the U.S. dollar versus many foreign currencies, including the euro,” added Chacko. “Add lower fuel prices and American travelers now have substantially increased buying power.”

2016 2015 2014 2013
Spending MORE per trip than previous year 44.8% 53.2% 52.6% 53.1%
Spending THE SAME per trip as previous year 50.1% 43.3% 41.4% 39.1%
Spending LESS per trip than previous year 5.1% 3.5% 6.0% 7.8%

 

2016 Bookings/Outlook:

Comparing your overall 2016 bookings so far to your 2015 bookings at this time last year, which is true?

Response 2016% 2015% 2014% 2013% 2012%
They’re Higher 44.4 48.1 48.1 45.7 39.5
They’re About Even 40.8 36.9 37.7 36.4 40.8
They’re Lower 14.7 15.0 14.4 17.9 19.7

 

What is your personal outlook on your business in 2016?

Response 2016% 2015% 2014% 2013% 2012%
Optimistic 83.2 83.7 83.0 78.7 78.8
Neither optimistic nor pessimistic 13.6 14.2 14.2 16.0 17.3
Pessimistic 3.2 2.1 2.8 5.3 3.9


Travel Leaders Group is one of North America’s largest travel companies – encompassing nearly one-third of all travel agents – and generated gross travel sales of approximately $20 billion in 2014. Travel Leaders Group is a leader in both the retail travel agency space and corporate travel, and it consistently ranks as one of the top travel companies nationwide.

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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 $20 billion through over 6,500 locations, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest traditional travel agency companies.