What's more, consumers are using the Internet more than ever to book trips, by visiting travel super sites, online agents, management companies, and the websites of airlines and hotels themselves.
In particular, social media — Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter — while just one of companies' many marketing tools, is responsible for campaigns that are reaching huge audiences and creating brand loyalty.
“Consumers have been through the wilderness and they’ve come to the clearing,” says Orbitz.com Brian Hoyt, adding that aMay 2011 Orbitz Insider Index revealed 81 percent of people are planning to take a summer vacation this year.
Jan Freitag, VP of global development?at Smith Travel Research, STR, agrees. Thus far in 2011, Freitag says demand for hotel rooms is up 6.7 percent. He expects July 2011 to be the best or second best month for room demand he's ever seen.
“I think with the economy recovering and the unemployment rate, if not getting better, at least not getting worse, we think that they overall mood of the traveler is that, yes, times may be tough, but at least we can now afford to go again,” says Freitag.
According to the US Travel Association, direct spending by domestic and international travelers on leisure travel totaled $489.7 billion in 2009, while business travel hit $214.7 billion.
According to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker , families are vacationing together again. Almost 70 percent of folks with upcoming plans say they’ll travel with their immediate families, up from 45 percent in 2010. The same study showed girlfriend getaways and “man-cations" are also gaining traction compared to 2010 (15 percent as opposed to 10 percent).