Summer is around the corner, and Americans are busy researching destinations, booking hotels and looking forward to that big annual getaway. Optimism is high, and according to SpringHill Suites Third Annual Vacation Attitude Survey conducted by TNS, 92 percent of Americans will hop into cars, planes, buses and boats in the upcoming months to spend quality time with loved ones.
Although the tradition of summer vacation remains a constant, planning methods and timing have evolved, aided by social networks and new booking websites that make travel faster, easier and more entertaining. In today’s fast-paced society, people have transformed the way they plan and how they take vacation.
“The American traveler is resilient, and people need their cherished summer break, whether they are going near or far,” said Callette Nielsen, vice president and global brand manager for SpringHill Suites. “People’s expectations are the same, yet how and when they book has changed tremendously.”
Among the Key Findings (more details follow):
• 62 percent of vacationers will book their summer vacation in two months or less
• 36 percent will spend two hours or less planning their summer vacation
• Nearly 3 in 4 (74 percent) of social media users continue to use social media on vacation, with about one-fourth (27 percent) using it the same amount or more than at home
• 78 percent say it is important to maintain a healthy routine on vacation
• Only 23 percent have used a sick day as a vacation day
Traveling Today’s Information Superhighway
When it comes to planning a trip, 58 percent reported they will use at least one online travel site to read reviews, book accommodations, find deals or scan guidebooks. Thanks to familiar and emerging digital services, more than one-third of people (36 percent) expect to spend just two hours or less researching their summer vacation, with a national average of five hours’ planning. Travelers with children are most likely to plan their vacations quickly, with 48 percent making plans in one month or less, compared to those without kids, of whom 60 percent will take two months or more to prepare.
Smartphones are another technology transforming our trips. In addition to telephoning friends and family, travelers will use their devices to take pictures and video, wake up on-time, find restaurants, make their way to local attractions, access social media, play games, calculate tips, check out online reviews, book travel and translate languages.
Nearly one-half of employed vacationers (47 percent) will check work email when on the road, with 53 percent completely unplugging. Employed men (53 percent) are also significantly more likely to check work email than women (41 percent). However, women log on for other reasons, and 69 percent use social media on vacation versus just 53 percent of men. The top states where residents check email on vacation include Illinois, New York, California, Florida, the District of Columbia and Texas.
Grown-ups are not the only ones who take advantage of tech tools. Approximately 1 in 3 households will be taking vacations with children under 12 years of age. Pre-teens will also be treated to electronic devices during vacations this year, and 83 percent will be enjoying electronics—including TVs, video games, iPods, smart phones and tablets—for both entertainment and distraction.
When Americans hit the road this year, it will be to visit a new destination (37 percent), hold a family reunion (27 percent), relax alone (23 percent), visit a new culture (11 percent) or take a getaway with friends (10 percent). Others will take a cruise (10 percent), attend a sports event (6 percent) or seek out an environmental trip (4 percent).
Despite higher gas prices, 84 percent of Americans report that they are not changing their vacation plans for this summer. Gas prices would need to reach $4.80 per gallon before they would reconsider summer vacation plans, with 64 percent of Americans expecting to travel by car this season. And optimism remains high, as 89 percent of respondents expect their vacations to go off without a hitch.
Wellness Away From Home
According to the study, 78 percent of Americans believe it is important to maintain a healthy routine while traveling on vacation. Among those who believe being healthy on vacation is essential, walking or jogging (62 percent), sleeping (59 percent), watching what they eat (51 percent), taking vitamins (41 percent) and swimming (30 percent) are preferred ways to stay fit.
And when it comes to wellness, 84 percent of all travelers will pack items for their and their families’ health and safety. In addition to medications, people rank sunscreen, vitamins, healthy snacks, running shoes, hand sanitizer and insect repellent among the items important to bring along for their wellbeing.
The number one benefit from a week-long vacation cited by 59 percent of respondents is coming home feeling refreshed about their life. Other advantages include feeling more connected to family (24 percent), being refreshed for work (14 percent) and being motivated to change their life (3 percent). Top activities that help travelers recharge on vacation include (in order) sightseeing (77 percent), eating and drinking (71 percent), getting extra sleep (59 percent, sun bathing (47 percent), reading (46 percent), running or swimming (42 percent) and working out (24 percent)). Prayer was named as the number one routine that Americans could not go without on vacation (19 percent).
“Our research shows that people need a break from everyday routines, from doing dishes to driving carpool. We also learned how dedicated people are to work and why they need to get away,” said Nielsen.
According to the SpringHill Suites study, 77 percent of Americans report never using a sick day as vacation. One-third have had to cancel or postpone a vacation day, with more than half doing so due to a work related reason. When asked which one person people need a break from the most, bosses and co-workers ranked number one and two, respectively. New Yorkers overwhelmingly need a break from their boss on vacation (28 percent) compared to the national average (14 percent).
When asked what one hotel luxury they wish they could bring back from vacation, the number one answer was housekeeping (46 percent), followed by their hotel view (20 percent), free breakfast (15 percent), free Wi-Fi (6 percent) and 24/7 food service (5 percent). What’s the first thing most people do when they first walk into a hotel room? Surprisingly, Americans check out the view (32 percent). The first thing Floridians are likely to do is lock the door.
The online survey polled 1,000 consumers between March 13 and March 18, 2012 and was conducted by TNS, an independent research company, and commissioned by SpringHill Suites by Marriott, an all-suites brand.
The online panel comprised U.S. individuals ages 18 and older. Surveyed respondents were balanced to be nationally representative of the U.S. population ages 18 and older. Using the online panel as the full population projection, the margin of error calculated is plus or minus 2.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. For more information and findings on the SpringHill Suites traveler attitude survey, please, Download The SpringHill Suites Survey TNS Report.
About SpringHill Suites
SpringHill Suites is ideal for business and leisure travelers who look for style and inspiration in their stay. Featuring suites larger than traditional hotel rooms, SpringHill Suites makes it easy for guests to spread out and fully enjoy their space. Launched in November 1998, the brand currently has more than 290 locations in the United States and Canada. SpringHill Suites participate in Marriott Rewards, the guest reward program that allows members to earn points or airline miles for each dollar spent during their stay at over 3,600 Marriott-affiliated hotels worldwide. For more information, visit www.springhillsuites.com.
TNS advises clients on specific growth strategies around new market entry, innovation, brand switching and stakeholder management, based on long-established expertise and market-leading solutions. With a presence in over 80 countries, TNS has more conversations with the world’s consumers than anyone else and understands individual human behaviors and attitudes across every cultural, economic and political region of the world.
TNS is part of Kantar, one of the world's largest insight, information and consultancy groups. Please visit www.tnsglobal.com for more information.
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