American Travelers Sold on Summer Vacations, Despite The Price Tag

International travel is top of mind for American travelers this summer.

May 23, 2023

*This data was pulled March 30 to April 18, 2023.

With summer approaching, American travelers are ready to ‘hit the road’ again— literally. With the cost of travel rising faster than inflation, and the ongoing cost of living crisis, many travelers are seeking budget-friendly travel options, like swapping out flights for road trips.

Although travelers are experiencing what The Washington Post describes as “sticker shock,” increasing prices don't seem to be enough to prevent America from planning and booking summer vacations. With flight prices up 35% on average, trip searches continue to rise. 

July 4th Travelers Planning Trips Close to Home

We know that Americans love to hit the road for July 4th, and this year is no different. Sojern’s data shows that demand for hotels starts to rise on the 26th of June, and peaks on the 28th, the Friday before the holiday.

United States (US) Outbound Summer Hotel Searches, 4th July

This year, Hawaii is the top searched destination for July 4th holidaymakers, followed by other sunny spots such as Orlando, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. When looking at international destinations, Americans aren’t journeying too far afield and are opting to stay in North America. Mexico, Canada, and the Bahamas are the top three internationally searched destinations.

Summer Travel is Surging, Despite Inflation 

Forbes doesn’t think America’s travel enthusiasm has been deflated by inflation. The momentum initiated by revenge travel is set to continue with almost 50% of consumers looking to travel more in 2023. Some believe that the approaching summer season could see hotels setting new booking records

When comparing Americans’ interest in summer vacations as of March, 2023 looks strong compared to 2022. As of the end of March, flight searches were up a total of 20% for the summer period (June-August), compared to the same time frame last year. Domestic flight searches were up 1%, and international flight searches were up 43%. 

Looking back to those planning 2022 summer vacations between September 2021 and March 2022, only 16% of the total searches for summer 2022 happened in that timespan. That left 84% of searches happening between April and August 2022. If we were to use this to predict 2023 activity, we expect a lot more to happen in terms of searches for summer 2023 trips in the coming months. 

Hotels like Hilton are capitalizing on the increase in demand, by revolutionizing the advertising landscape, looking to capture the attention of a distracted audience.

US Outbound Summer Flight Searches, 2022 vs. 2023, Domestic vs. International

Travel Marketing Tip: With travelers planning and booking their summer vacations all the way through to August, hotels, destinations, and attractions will have a lot to juggle. A hotel may be at peak occupancy in July, focusing on customer service, but they will also need to find time to manage and optimize their marketing strategy to capture the remainder of the summer travel audience. Partnering with a digital marketing specialist to remove some of the workload can give you time back to focus on refining the customer experience. 

Asia Pacific Proving Popular for 2023 Summer Vacations   

The growth in Americans looking to travel internationally is supported by the reopening of popular destination markets such as Eastern Asia. When looking at outbound travel data, China has seen an influx of interest, growing by almost 3000% compared to 2022. As a whole, summer travel bookings to Asian destinations have increased by 60% year over year. Other popular destinations this year include Venice (Italy), Chile, and Nicaragua—displaying percentage increases of 46%, 22%, and 22% respectively. 

Compared to 2022, bookings within the US and Mexico have dropped by 7% and 13% respectively, reinforcing the popularity of international travel demand for summer 2023.  

US Outbound Summer Travel, Top 15 International Destinations by Region

US Outbound Summer Travel Weekly Summer Bookings, as of April 18

Travel Marketing Tip: Trends that are emerging in line with the summer season include increased attention on personalization, prioritization of experiences, and the resilience of luxury travel. Whatever country your business operates in, you should be up-to-date on the latest trends to ensure your offering meets the needs of this year’s summer traveler. 

As a travel marketer, travel insights are key to maximizing results. For the latest travel trends, remember to check out our self-service Global Insights Dashboard

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