American Express Travel Survey Results Shed Light on Holiday Booking and Travel Trends

NEW YORK, Nov. 21 /PRNewswire/ — Results from a recent American Express Travel survey show one in four Americans (27%) — and a third of those aged 18 to 34 (33%) — plan to take a pleasure trip before the end of the year, with many travelers seeking convenience and discounts when booking trips, and peace of mind while traveling. Americans planning to travel have budgeted an estimated $1,267 for their total holiday travel-spend, and consumers are looking to spend quality time with family and friends while making smart financial decisions to make it happen.

Large family gatherings are popular this season, according to the survey. The majority of holiday travelers plan to visit family or friends at home (57%), or take a vacation with family or friends (37%). Most say their get- togethers will include nine or more people; 42% say they will include 12 or more. Nine percent of responders planning to travel also plan on taking a baby or toddler along for the first time. Supporting the desire to spend holiday time with loved ones, more than a third (36%) say they are considering helping to pay for a family member’s or friend’s travel expenses this holiday season.

Financial planning, trip costs and payment are top of mind for consumers booking holiday travel. Travelers are deciding how to book travel primarily based on price (33%), discounts and deals (23%), trumped only by convenience (37%). “Not budgeting wisely” was cited as the biggest money related worry (30%). Forty-five percent prefer using credit or charge cards to pay for travel expenses, and one in four travelers (26%) plan to use reward points earned by using credit cards to pay for some or all of the costs incurred. A majority (58%) would consider or plan to purchase a prepaid product to make travel easier and safer.

In terms of safety and peace of mind, one in three responders planning to travel expressed concern about either losing their wallet (21%) or being robbed of their wallet or valuables (12%). To safeguard funds, travelers will rely less on cash this year- carrying an average of $177 on any given day, down from $197 in 2004 – and more on prepaid products, which can be used to pay for everything from hotels to telephone calls. Nearly one-third (29%) plan to purchase paper travelers checks or a new card version of travelers checks such as the American Express Travelers Cheque Card, followed by phone card (21%), or a stored-value cash card (13%).

Additional Survey Findings

Booking Methods

Travelers will book directly from online travel agencies and Websites (28%), directly from airlines, hotels and car rental companies via telephone (19%), from the Websites of airlines, hotels, car rental companies and cruise lines (16%), and through travel agents (15%) and tour operators (7%). Eight percent of Americans planning a trip will book online for the first time this season.

Accommodations

Although the majority will stay with family and friends (55%), nearly 4 in 10 of those planning to travel will stay at a hotel, motel or resort (38%). Others will stay in either a time share property (6%), a rental home (2%) or at a bed and breakfast (2%). The vast majority (78%) will travel domestically; others will head to the Caribbean (6%), Hawaii (3%), or Europe (3%).

Gas Prices Are Not an Issue

High gasoline prices are a concern, but most Americans planning to travel plan to keep their travel plans regardless of the price of gas (60%); just a third (36%) say they will travel less this season because of the high cost of gas. In the West, where distances are longer, 75% say they will keep their travel plans despite high gas prices.

Relaxation-seeking

In planning their end-of-year holiday trips, sun and relaxation top the list of considerations (33%), followed by food and entertainment (18%), cultural attractions (16%), outdoor sports (10%), and holiday decorations (5%).

About the Survey

The 2005 American Express Travel Survey sampled 1,033 nationally representative respondents. The survey sampled 278 Americans who plan to take a vacation from now until the end of this year. The survey was conducted via telephone by International Communications Research (ICR) between October 14 – October 18, 2005. The poll has a margin of error ┬▒ 3.0%.

About American Express

American Express entered the travel agency business in 1915. The company has more than 2,200 Travel Service locations in over 140 Countries and Territories worldwide. American Express Company is a diversified worldwide travel, financial and network services company founded in 1850. It is a world leader in charge and credit cards, Travelers Cheques, travel, and international banking.

American Express is a leader in prepaid products. In addition to the American Express Travelers Cheque Card, the Company also offers the 114-year- old American Express Travelers Cheque, the preeminent brand welcomed worldwide, as well as the American Express Gift Card, Gift Cheques, the Be My Guest dining card, and a range of corporate incentive prepaid products through American Express Incentive Services, a subsidiary of American Express. Terms and conditions apply to the American Express Travelers Cheque Card.

For more information about American Express, visit www.americanexpress.com.

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