Americans spending less and decreasing air travel


ST. LOUIS, MO – New economic realities are affecting every aspect of the American way of life, and both recreational and business travel are not exceptions. Recently, Maritz Research Hospitality Group conducted a poll to see how current economic circumstances are impacting people’s travel intentions for the first part of 2009. The results show that Americans are ready to cut back on travel and entertainment costs during the first few months of 2009.

According to the poll, 41 percent of Americans are planning to cut back on personal entertainment costs, such as movies, theater, and sporting events. In addition, 34 percent plan to cut back on the number of times they dine out, and 20 percent plan to downgrade the class of restaurants at which they dine out.

Rick Garlick, Ph.D., senior director of consulting and strategic implementation, Maritz Research Hospitality Group, suggested travel and hospitality providers to bundle their services.

“While it is not uncommon for hotels, airlines, and rental cars to offer discounts on collective services, this may now be extended to include restaurants and entertainment,” Garlick said. “With travelers looking to take a step down in the class of hotel or restaurant they choose, higher classes of hotels and restaurants have an even greater possibility of losing share to lower-priced competitors and will need to make significant adjustments.”

According to Garlick, the airline industry in particular, will need to bring fares down again to offset falling gasoline prices. At this point, travelers seem willing to sacrifice the convenience of flying to save the extra money, even for longer trips.

Among those that traveled by air for leisure, although the cutbacks on leisure travel already began last year, one in four (26 percent) expected a decrease in leisure air travel over the next six months, with one in ten (12 percent) indicating that the decrease would be ‘significant.’ More than one in three (38 percent) said they would be staying at hotels for leisure less often in the foreseeable future.