NEW YORK – Americans are waving off ‘staycations’ in 2010 and hitting the roads and skies, according to leading travel executives from Best Western International, AAA and Airfarewatchdog.com who convened last week to discuss the leisure travel landscape.
With the increase in demand, hotel rooms are filling up fast. Dorothy Dowling, Best Western’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, is tracking an increase in advance bookings from May through September as well as an increase in the average length of stay. Dowling says these trends will put greater pressure on demand at hotels and recommends booking travel now in order to secure the best deals.
“Demand is back, and rooms can be found for a great value,” said Dowling. “Travelers have an advantage, but it won’t last long. Those looking to vacation in a premium destination such as New York, Orlando or any national park need to research and make a commitment now to actually get a room.”
Capacity cuts and mergers among airlines, along with continued surcharges, are keeping rates high. George Hobica, creator of Airfarewatchdog.com, said that, “fare deals will be few and far between” this summer.
“If you see something within your price range, grab it,” advises Hobica. “Airfares to Europe are at an all-time high so a traveler’s best bet is to stay domestic, though bargains will still be hard to come by. Train travel is another affordable option for travelers to consider.”
There are many signs that the economy is improving and consumer confidence is growing, which are positive signs for the travel industry, according to Glen MacDonell, Director of AAA Travel Services. The association is hoping to see a large increase in the number of travelers when its Memorial Day holiday forecast is released later this month.
“Travel by automobile is expected to remain the most popular way to travel,” said MacDonell. “AAA is committed to providing information to its members on the go and recently updated AAA Mobile Web to provide easy access on any web-enabled mobile phone to AAA TourBook information and locations of discount and AAA Approved Auto Repair. We also have three iPhone apps available to assist members in finding discounts, requesting roadside assistance, finding AAA Approved Rated Restaurants and Hotels and locating fuel stations.”
Leisure travel expert and editor of OnTheGoWithAmy.com, Amy Graff, said that staycations and one-tank trips are a thing of the past, and that families are looking to book themed travel in 2010.
“People are looking to find unique vacation experiences for their families. Michelle Obama’s ’Get Fit’ campaign is inspiring active vacations, and more parents are looking into educational vacations that teach their kids in a fun way. Agritourism and culinary vacations will continue to grow in popularity.”