The data is still coming in with regards to 2017 travel trends, but a few things are already clear. Overall travel was down a bit in 2017 compared to previous years. US citizens took fewer international trips, and fewer people from around the world chose to visit the United States. We certainly hope that both of these trends will begin to reverse in 2018.
One big group that took more trips in 2017 was Millennials. According to MMGY Global’s 2017 Portrait of American Travelers, Millennial families (yes, Millennials are old enough to have families now) intended to spend 19% more on trips in 2017 compared to 2016. In actual numbers, the average expected spend by Millennial families went from $5,295 per year to $6,282 per year. When you put all American families together, that average drops to $4,945 per year spent on vacations.
In 2017, about 85% of all vacations taken by US citizens were domestic trips. That’s a significant increase from last year, when 78% of trips were domestic. Altogether, 13.9 million more domestic vacations were taken than international ones.
More (but not much more) than half of vacations included a trip to a major attraction. We can only assume that the 47% of vacationers who don’t go to see attractions spend their vacations visiting family or friends in their homes. The most popular attractions are, in order, art or history museums, aquariums, science museums, theme parks, and zoos.
The number one place that most US travelers start their trip research is Google, and more and more travelers are doing their research and booking on their phones. One in two US travelers starts planning trips on a mobile device, and 79% of travelers in 2017 completed a booking for an attraction, flight, or hotel entirely on their phone, and we don’t mean by calling the company. It’s estimated that online bookings will more than double from $9 billion in 2015 to $21 billion in 2020.
At the same time, many travelers still wait to make their reservations until the last minute, especially when it comes to tours and attractions. 45% of tour and attraction tickets are still sold in person, and that number is likely much higher for certain types of attractions, like theme park tickets.
Still, the power of the internet can’t be denied, and it has certainly transformed the travel industry over the last 20 years. Ass we look ahead to 2018 travel trends, we’re sure to see the number of mobile searches and bookings continue to rise, and hopefully we’ll start to see more people venture past their comfort zones and see more of the world.
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.