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Vacations pass the value test: 2024 Deloitte summer travel survey
Friday, 24th May 2024
Source : Deloitte

Over the past two years, as inflation has challenged Americans’ sense of financial well-being, travel has proven to be largely impervious but intent to spend on flights and lodging has remained high.

This summer Americans’ eyes are on the horizon again, as nearly half (48%) of the respondents to the 2024 Deloitte summer travel survey plan to take vacations involving paid lodging (see methodology).

But they are also watching the price tag. Although Americans’ financial confidence is similar to summer 2023, the perception of inflated fares and fees is affecting every aspect of travel this season.  

General affordability is typically the biggest deterrent to travel, but over the past year, an important shift has occurred: More nontravelers point the finger at inflation. One in three non-travelers say travel is too expensive right now, up from one in four in 2023.

Cost concerns have risen across income levels but deter low-income Americans the most. This disparity means a shift in income distribution this summer, with significantly fewer lower-income travelers and significantly more higher-income travelers (figure 1).

The projected pricing picture appears mixed. Both 2024 US hotel average daily rates and July’s domestic “good deal” airfare will rise 3%, according to projections from the American Hotel and Lodging Association1 and Hopper2. But comparisons to 2019 are far from lockstep across the two categories—average daily rates are up 22%, while airfare is down 7%. 

Among travelers, pricing perceptions are contributing to a pullback in the number and length of trips, among other belt-tightening behaviors. But Americans also are adjusting their budgets to make travel fit. Pricing perceptions are driving several patterns and behaviors this summer:

  • Income mix shifts: With more low-income Americans deterred by high prices, high-income Americans are expected to make up a much bigger share of the traveling public this summer—44%, versus 35% in 2023.
  • Budgets are bigger: Each income group plans to spend 6% to 13% more than in 2023. Due to the growth in high-income influence, overall summer budgets are up 18%.
  • Fewer and shorter trips: The average traveler plans 2.3 trips this summer, bringing frequency back down to 2022 levels after it rose to 3.1 in 2023.
  • Deal seeking is up: This trend is likely to influence on both product selection and booking channel. Higher emphasis on deals, even with a wealthier traveler pool, indicates that pricing pressure is widely felt.
  • Road trips are up: Seven in 10 US travelers say they plan to take a road trip this year, up from 57% in 2023. Half of road trippers cite driving as a cost-saving strategy.

As Americans continue to find room in their budgets to enjoy summer travel, their preferences continue to evolve. Demand is up for non-hotel lodging, including private rentals, guesthouses, and recreational vehicles. International destinations are diversifying after a heavy focus on Europe in 2023.

And, perhaps driven by continued workplace flexibility, the summer travel season is extending. The percent of summer trips slated for post-Labor Day September has risen from 12% in 2022 to 17% in 2024.

Download the full survey findings

Methodology
A representative sample of 4,022 Americans took this survey between March 20 and April 2, 2024. Of them, 2,348 qualified as travelers. A smaller subset of 1,936 who plan to stay in paid lodging, rather than only with friends and relatives, completed the longest version of the survey.

  • Michael Daher
    United States
  • Eileen Crowley
    United States
  • Matthew Usdin
    United States
  • Matt Soderberg
    United States
  • Maggie Rauch
    United States
  • Upasana Naik
    India
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