2016 Travel Trends Shed Light on Travelers’ Intentions for 2017

With the New Year in full swing, looking back can help us move ahead more effectively as travel marketers. Traveler behaviors and preferences throughout 2016 gives us a hint of what lies ahead, helping to identify opportunities for the coming year.

So, based on the last year, what are travelers’ intentions for 2017?

Digital travel content will keep booming

Travelers today are flooded with information at every turn, making the digital path to purchase a swerving one rather than a straight, direct line. And yet, travelers are seeking out more and more digital travel content — a trend that will continue to surge.

The Traveler’s Path to Purchase study, which we commissioned with comScore, highlights year-over-year growth in digital travel content consumption across the U.K., U.S. and Canada. In the U.S. alone, travelers spend an astounding 8.7 billion minutes per month interacting with digital travel content, a 41% increase year over year. The U.K.’s year-over-year growth was even greater at 44%, indicating that digital travel content is increasingly important to travel consumers.

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Leisure travel will continue to rise

Looking to the months ahead in 2017, we can also expect leisure travel to continue to grow. According to research from MMGY Global, travelers’ intentions to take a leisure trip in the next six months has steadily increased over the past six years. While 53% of travelers planned a leisure trip in 2010, 68% did so in 2016. From 2015 to 2016 alone, travelers’ leisure trip intentions made a 5% jump.

Data on room night stays validates this growth. According to DK Shifflet Performance/Monitor, hotel bookings increased from 3M person-stays in 2010 to nearly 4M in 2016. Based on the continual growth, their 2017 forecast predicts an increase to 4.1M.

Traveler safety ranks as important, but budget is still paramount

Volatility in various places around the world is reflected in travelers’ concern for safety. MMGY Global’s data from 2016 shows that travelers emphasize a destination’s overall safety as a consideration factor.

But while safety is an area of increasing importance, it is not the main inhibitor when people decide not to go on a vacation. Although worries about air travel safety and security rose from 2015 to 2016, they ranked eighth overall among the reasons for taking fewer vacations. Budget, economic concerns and the cost of travel in general were more prohibitive than safety concerns for travelers when surveyed in 2016. Time off work also played a bigger role in restricting travel.

Looking ahead

Growth was present across the board in 2016 with both increasing digital travel content consumption and leisure travel alike. While safety concerns increased, budget remained paramount and didn’t slow down the leisure travel growth, indicating a continual positive growth projection as we move into 2017.

With this ever growing expansive digital travel marketplace it’s more imperative than ever to create a cohesive integrated travel marketing strategy to impact where and when travelers are jet-setting next.

Learn more insights to help inform your 2017 marketing strategy with a few of our recent studies: