Demand, Costs Both Up for Summer Travel

Even though the cost of travel is up from last year’s figures, bookings are also up, according to an American Express Travel survey.

The financial services firm polled 300 travel counselors, and nearly half note an increase in bookings for summer travel. Most of the counselors (67%) say costs are also higher than last year’s. Rising costs in key travel categories, such as airfare and hotel stays, are cited by American Express Travel’s experts as main reasons for pricier summer travel. More than a third (35%) say costs are up because customers want to spend more on amenities such as excursions and other activities.

The top 10 summer hotspots are London; Paris; Rome; Orlando, Florida; New York City; Kahului, Hawaii; San Francisco; Cancun; Los Angeles; and Honolulu.

Some travelers want to be ahead of the herd, and are traveling to such destinations as Brazil and Milan. Santorini, a Greek island in the southern Aegean, and Romanian capital Bucharest are also among fast-growing summer destinations for 2014. Domestically, people are heading to Hilton Head, South Carolina; and Grand Junction, Colorado.

Nearly half of travelers (43%) seek relaxation as the top feature in a vacation, and about a third (34%) say they’d like to experience cultural immersion. Nearly a third of travel counselors say clients are booking cruises. Most counselors (81%) are planning vacations for clients and their immediate family.

Most summer vacations last 10 days. Among other findings, traveler counselors say:

  • Customers want added value, such as upgrades (33%);
  • Destination is most important to customers (26%);
  • Budget is customers’ top consideration (20%);
  • Customers want relaxing experiences, such as an all-inclusive beach vacation (43%);
  • They are curating trips for multi-generational families (35%); and
  • They are planning experiences for their clients who will travel with friends or a significant other (29%).