The latest Harris Poll was just released, and it reveals that Americans are once again dreaming of traveling to far off lands.  While these aspirations may be mere whimsy for some U.S. travelers, for others it’s an ambition that they are enthusiastically realizing.  By understanding the American consumers’ innermost travel desires – and designing product offerings centered on their top travel destinations – travel affiliates can profit from the traveler’s wanderlust.

The Harris Poll is one of the largest and most authoritative consumer opinion polls in the U.S., and it covers a wide range of topics and issues related to policies, products, and services for government, corporations and non-profits.  Travel comprises one of their major topical categories in the poll, and within the travel category, Harris Interactive asks U.S. consumers a number of questions throughout the course of the year.

Their most recent nationwide survey, which queried 2,177 U.S. adults that collectively represent a proportionally weighted cross-section of the U.S. population, was conducted online between June 8 and 15.  In this just released survey, Australia Regains Top Position for Vacation Destination, this specific question was asked of the survey panel:

‘If you could spend a vacation in any country in the world, outside the United States, and you would not have to worry about the cost, what one country would you choose?’

Here’s the survey results breakdown by destination over the last 3 years:

Rank

2009

2008

2007

Australia

1

2

1

Italy

2

1

2

Great Britain (England, Scotland or Wales)

3

3

3

France

4

4

4

Ireland

5

5

5

Germany

6

8

6

Japan

7

7

7

Greece

8

6

10

New Zealand

9

11

8

Spain

10

10

9

Canada

11

9

11

Switzerland

12

12

13

Mexico

13

13

12

Brazil

14

*

*

Jamaica

15

15

*

Note: * Not in top 15   The Bahamas, which was number 14 in 2008, dropped-out of the top 15 this year

Aside from gleaning the top destination rankings by country, the Harris Poll also reveals American travelers’ choice of travel destinations by regional preference.  Again, using the same criteria of “…if cost was not a consideration,” the year-on-year results were as follows:

  • Overall, half of all adults would choose a European country for a foreign vacation; this is up from last year when 48% chose a country in this region
  • 24% indicated they’d choose a country in Asia or the Pacific, the same percentage as in 2008
  • The Caribbean or the Americas garnered only 15%, matching last year’s results
  • A very small minority, 4% say they would not travel anywhere outside the United States

TravelDividends thinks the more revealing statistics gleaned from this survey (with far more strategic relevance from a travel affiliate marketing perspective) revolve around which destinations topped the list of the survey participants based on their age and gender.

Country

Rank

Generation

Gender

Echo Boomers
(18 to 32)

Gen X
(33 to 44)

Baby Boomers
(45 to 63)

Matures
(64+)

Men

Women

1

Italy

Italy

Italy

Australia

Australia

Italy

2

Australia

Australia

Australia

Italy

Italy

Australia


3

France

Great Britain

Great Britain

Great Britain

Great Britain

Great Britain

4

Great Britain

Ireland

France

Ireland

France

France


5

Japan

France

Ireland

Germany

Japan

Ireland

Aside from Australia once again topping the most desired list (Australia has come on top 11 of the last 12 survey years) and the other country rankings, Harris Interactive major conclusion is that “Considering the economy and that summer vacations are becoming ‘staycations’ this year, the fantasy of traveling far and wide, assuming money is not a consideration, is a more appealing dream than it was last year.  This could be why a trip across the globe for Americans is back up to the top spot of most popular destinations.”

We would add to Harris’ observation that not only is the wanderlust of U.S. travel consumers’ theoretically peaking again, in many cases, these same consumers are acting on their fantasy.  We’ve noted in several of our recent posts that many OTAs, travel suppliers and niche travel specialists are seeing the consumer’s renewed interests in overseas travel translating into a surge in bookings, often to many of the same destinations identified in the Harris Poll.  We have also spoken to a number of affiliates and super affiliates who corroborate this industry dynamic.

TravelDividends is a big believer in the value of market research, particularly as it relates to how travel affiliates can use the research findings to adjust their marketing campaigns, better manage their product portfolios, or identify new and profitable products and markets.

We’re curious as to what our readers have been seeing in their business – whether you are a travel supplier or a travel affiliate…how do the top destinations identified by the Harris Poll compare and contrast to your business?  Do you find the Poll’s conclusions and recommendations useful?  Are there other dynamics you’re seeing with your customers that augment- or differ from – those delineated by Harris Interactive?  Contact us via email or leave a comment. As always, TravelDividends welcomes your thoughts and opinions.

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