Celebrating the Road
Travel is a gift that can change your world
In the Well, Duh! Department, the worldrenowned market research firm of JD Power has recently announced a completely predictable discovery: Travelers spend more money in destinations they like than they do in destinations they don’t like. According to the 2016 Destination Experience Satisfaction Study, “a great travel experience drives higher spending.”
The study polled more than 26,000 travelers to determine their overall satisfaction with their visits – whether for business or leisure – to the top 50 US travel destinations. The study looked at six factors: activities; cost and fees; food and beverage; infrastructure; lodging; and travel/arrival. The research found that for a typical 3 to 4 day trip, visitors spent $1,169 on a trip on average. However, visitors who rated their satisfaction a 10 out of 10 spent over $1,400, or 24 percent more than average for the same 3 to 4 days.
Now these findings hardly come as a surprise to those of us who travel regularly, both at home and abroad. When we feel good about our experience during our journey, we tend to take something of that experience home with us. We see the sights, we taste the food, we meet the people. And somehow that all becomes a part of our identity. As the Power report puts it,“Visitors often view cities as more than just a place to visit, they develop a strong emotional connection.”
The JD Power research also uncovered another nugget that’s only a little more surprising: Those who travel for business enjoy their trip slightly more than those who travel for leisure. When the cost of the trip is taken into consideration, this makes sense because business travelers typically don’t bear all the expense themselves.
But beyond that, satisfaction around travel and arrival is also higher among business travelers. The researchers speculate that this may be because business travelers have“learned to adapt to the travel process much better than less experienced travelers.” That’s another way of saying we’re just a little more adept at gaming the system. The study also looked at the role that food, entertainment and lodging plays in creating visitor satisfaction. But the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The report keeps coming back to the love affair that a traveler forms with a destination – and how that induces us to spend more money there. For your humble editor, whenever I’m traveling in a city I love it’s a celebration of sorts, rather like the upcoming holiday season. I seem to be swept up in a gladness of heart that makes down-to-earth budget limits sound like‘bah, humbug.’Thus I’m more inclined to open up my wallet, take out the credit card and mash the numbers‘til they’re flat. It’s the kind of behavior I’d be far less likely to indulge in after I get home, when the holidays are past and the bills come due. But that’s OK, because travel – like a holiday – is special. As Rick Garlick, global travel and hospitality practice lead at JD Power, observes,“While visitors spend more when they have a great experience, they’re also more satisfied with the value they receive for their expenditure.” So when that next out-of-town assignment lands on your desk, remember, it can be more than a business trip.You can make it a celebration. In other words, do what it takes to turn your travels – which are transient – into experiences – which will be part of you forever. Whatever the effort, it’s worth it. Because what it offers is a rare and precious gift. BT