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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Allianz Survey Finds Summer Travel Continues to Rebound



By Theresa Norton Masek travelpulse.com

* Social media featuring in more travel plans

More Americans will take a vacation this summer, and more are getting an early start, according to the third annual Allianz Travel Insurance Summer Vacation Confidence Index released by Allianz Global Assistance USA. Fifty-seven percent of Americans are likely to hit the road this season, up 3 points from last year and exceeding the 50 percent of Americans who say they typically take a summer vacation, traveling at least 100 miles from home for a week.

The vacation uptick is the result of those reporting they have already gotten away — 13 percent, up 5 points from last year — paired with the 44 percent of Americans who are confident they’ll take a vacation before summer’s end.

The index also found that America’s “vacation deficit” is shrinking. Measured by taking the proportion of those who think a vacation is important but are not confident that they’ll get one this year, the deficit dropped to 18 percent, down 6 points from last year and 10 from the year before.

“With the rebound of summer vacation travel, we’ve seen an increase in travel insurance sales,” said Daniel Durazo, director of communications with Allianz Global Assistance USA. “This is especially true for bigger ticket purchases such as trips to London for the Olympics — the travel highlight this season.”

Social media continues to grow in popularity when planning vacations. Among those confident they will take a summer vacation, 52 percent are using social media for inspiration. Facebook is the favorite site, used by 29 percent; runner-up sites include TripAdvisor (14 percent), Twitter (6 percent), and Pinterest (4 percent).

Young adults age 18-34 are more likely to peruse Facebook, tweet, and pin to plan their travel (73 percent), than those age 35-55 (45 percent) or those 55-plus (24 percent).

Most seasoned travelers have one airport nightmare that they wouldn’t want to relive; however, sometimes hiccups are inevitable. Asked how they would spend time if their flight was delayed for hours, most said they would immediately call their travel agent or get in line to rebook (28 percent), while others would catch up with friends and family via phone, Skype, or email (24 percent), nap (19 percent) or load up on celebrity magazines (9 percent). Young adults said they are more likely to jump on their cells or computers to connect with friends and family (33 percent vs. 24 percent for travelers generally). And women were twice as likely as men to buy magazines (11 percent vs. 6 percent).

While the generational divide on how travelers use social media is unsurprising, the survey also found that there is a strong split between young adults, middle-aged travelers, and older Americans when it comes to attitudes on how to handle a flight delay and other airport mishaps.

Younger Americans are more likely to have committed an airport faux pas — overpacking and arriving late — causing them to miss or almost miss their flights. Among their top confessions: they are more likely to have overpacked and paid extra fees for checking luggage than travelers generally (30 percent vs. 23 percent) and they are more likely not to have left enough time to get to the airport (24 percent vs. 20 percent).

Among travelers generally, 7 percent say they didn’t follow security regulations or had prohibited items in their luggage and missed or nearly missed their flight as a result. Four percent said they have missed or nearly missed their flight because they’ve sat in the airport lounge/bar for too long.
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