10 Sep 2014
September 10, 2014

Travel Leaders Group Reveals Fall Travel Trends

European River Cruises Makes Greatest Gains Year-Over-Year; Caribbean Cruises and Orlando Take Top Spots for Fall Travel

In Addition to Naming Top Fall Travel Destinations, New Survey Looks at “Political Hot Spots,” Most Anticipated New Cruise Ships and Shows Increase in Year-Over-Year Bookings.

Plymouth, MN (September 10, 2014) — Today, travel industry powerhouse Travel Leaders Group released findings from its most recent nationwide survey of travel agents.  Based on actual bookings, nearly 90% of Travel Leaders Group agents stated that their overall bookings for 2014 are greater than or equal to this time last year. While the survey identified Orlando, Florida, and Caribbean cruising as the top domestic and international vacation destinations, respectively, for American travelers for the remainder of the year, European river cruises ranks as the “destination” making the biggest jump on either Top Ten list. Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas is the most-anticipated new cruise ship for cruise experts, and international political conflicts – in countries such as Egypt, Israel, Kenya, Russia, Thailand and Ukraine – are putting a dent in bookings within those regions.

This survey was conducted by Travel Leaders Group from August 4 – August 29, 2014, and includes responses from 1054 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 Cruise Holidays, Cruise Specialists, Luxury Travel Network, Nexion, Protravel International, Results! Travel, Travel Leaders Corporate, Tzell Travel Group and Vacation.com units.

“The results of our Fall Travel Trends Survey speak volumes in terms of a key indicator on the confidence many Americans have in their personal economic situation. To have nearly 90% of our agents reporting that bookings are higher than, or equal to, this time last year is very positive for our industry and the country,” stated Travel Leaders Group CEO Barry Liben.  “With London, Rome and European river cruising in the Top 5 on our international list, it’s clear that Americans travelers will reap the benefits of ‘shoulder season’ in Europe.  Elsewhere in the world, we are keenly aware of how politics impacts travel and constantly work with our clients to find the ideal travel options for each individual and offer peace of mind should our leisure or business travelers need us to change their travel plans at a moments’ notice.”

Travel Leaders Group travel agents from across the U.S. were asked to name up to five top domestic and international destinations they’re booking for the remainder of the year. The following information and trends are based on actual booking data.

Rank

2014 Top   Domestic – FALL

Percentage

2013 Rank

1

Orlando, FL

34.3%

2

2

Las Vegas, NV

33.2%

1

3

Maui, HI

31.9%

4

4

New York City, NY

30.1%

3

5

Honolulu, HI

22.1%

5

6

San Francisco, CA

18.2%

6

7

Chicago, IL

15.5%

7

8

Los Angeles, CA

15.1%

9

9

Washington, DC

14.0%

8

10

Boston, MA

12.7%

11 (tie)

 

Rank

2014 Top   International – FALL

Percentage

2013 Rank

1

CRUISE – Caribbean

36.6%

1

2

Cancun, Mexico

32.6%

2

3

London, England

22.3%

3

4

Rome, Italy

21.2%

4

5

CRUISE – Europe (River)

20.8%

8

6

CRUISE – Europe (Mediterranean)

18.2%

5

7

Paris, France

17.9%

6

8

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

14.9%

7

9

Montego Bay, Jamaica

13.2%

9

10

Playa del Carmen/Riviera Maya, Mexico

13.0%

10

 

Additional Key Findings:

Nearly 90% Indicate Overall 2014 Travel Bookings are Better or the Same as 2013: When asked to compare overall 2014 travel bookings so far to 2013 at this time last year, a majority (60.2%) indicated that their bookings are higher and 28.6% indicated that they are the same as compared to a year ago.

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

They’re higher

60.2%

56.5%

52.1%

55.3%

53.7%

9.4%

They’re about even

28.6%

28.3%

28.8%

24.2%

23.9%

11.1%

They’re lower

11.2%

15.2%

19.1%

20.5%

22.4%

79.4%

 

Cruise Bookings versus Last Year: When specifically asking those who book cruise vacations about bookings compared to last year, nearly 84% stated their comparable cruise bookings are either higher than or equal to this time last year (48.2% said cruise bookings are higher, while 35.5% said cruise bookings are on par with this time last year).

Most Anticipated New Cruise Ships: Travel Leaders Group agents, who are cruise experts, were provided with a list of 17 new ocean and river cruise ships that will debut between now and 2016.  These cruise specialists were asked to identify which new ships they are most excited about. Agents could select up to three ships and the top responses were: (1) Quantum of the Seas (Royal Caribbean); Viking Star (Viking Ocean Cruises); and Norwegian Escape (Norwegian Cruise Line).

Top European River Cruise Countries: European river cruising continues to be the hottest trend in travel and offers travelers the opportunity to immerse themselves in some of Europe’s great cities and towns. Travel Leaders Group cruise specialists were asked, “While many river cruises in Europe travel through multiple countries, what one country do your clients seem most excited about (either pre-trip or post-trip)?” The top responses were:

France

30.6%

Germany

27.7%

Hungary

13.3%

The Netherlands

8.3%

Austria

6.1%

 

River Cruise Clientele: When asked, “What type of vacation would you say a majority of your river cruise clients booked with you in the past?” Travel Leaders Group agents responded:

Ocean cruise vacation

37.3%

Land-based vacation

27.1%

Majority of my river cruise clients are first-time clients

18.1%

Previous river cruise

17.5%

 

Political Conflict in Russia and Ukraine Impacts Cruise Booking Decisions: International news headlines have included the conflict between Ukraine and Russia for months and it is impacting some travel decisions by Americans. Travel Leaders Group agents, who are cruise experts, were asked: “With the ongoing strife in Ukraine and Russia, are clients expressing any interest in …”

  • River cruises in Russia – 30.5% of those polled indicated there is still interest, while 69.5% said there is no interest at this time.
  • Cruise bookings for the Baltic – 42% of those polled indicated there is still interest, while 58% said there is no interest at this time.
  • Cruises with ports of call along the Black Sea – 33.6% indicated there is still interest, while 66.4% said there is no interest at this time.

Political Conflicts and Impact on Bookings for Egypt, Israel, Kenya and Thailand: Among other political “hot spots” in the world, Travel Leaders Group agents were asked about four specific destinations and how recent events may or may not be impacting bookings.

Israel: When asked, “Have the events unfolding in Israel caused your clients to cancel or delay travel to Israel?” 34.6% of Travel Leaders Group agents said “No,” while 65.4% stated “Yes.” A U.S. State Department Travel Warning was in effect during the time of the survey (the warning remains in place).  So, Travel Leaders Group agents were asked about bookings to Israel compared to last year.  Over 32% (32.6%) stated bookings to Israel remained steady, while 64.3% stated bookings were down compared to this time last year.

As for Egypt, Kenya and Thailand:

Egypt

Kenya

Thailand

Bookings are up.

1.6%

2.9%

2.1%

Bookings remain even.

14.9%

30.5%

34.2%

Bookings are down.

58.8%

34.6%

27.4%

There has been no impact at all in my bookings.

24.7%

32.0%

36.3%

 

Heightened TSA Security for International Flights: Travel Leaders Group agents were asked if clients have been impacted by the new security measures for international flights headed to the U.S., in which any travelers who can’t power on their electronic devices, if asked, will not be allowed to board the plane. Those polled stated:

No, not at all.

72.7%

No, but a few clients have asked questions.

20.0%

No, but quite a few clients have asked questions.

5.4%

Yes, I’ve had clients asked to power on their electronic devices.

1.8%

Yes, I’ve had clients denied boarding.

0.1%

 

Optimism in the Travel Industry:

When asked for their personal outlook on their business for the remainder of 2014, an overwhelming majority (95.8%) indicated they are either positive or neutral.

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

Optimistic

79.8%

79.0%

74.3%

71.1%

73.5%

59.5%

Neither optimistic nor pessimistic

16.0%

15.3%

18.3%

20.5%

19.3%

22.3%

Pessimistic

4.2%

5.7%

7.4%

8.4%

7.2%

18.2%

 

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 2013. 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.