It seems that almost daily I read another so-called indicator of the state of our economy, whether it be the Dow Jones, gas prices or a consumer spending index. Though none are an all-encompassing look, certainly these measurements offer some insight into facets of our economic well-being. In many cases, they are all we have to go by.
When it comes to the well-being of meetings and events, I think a good indicator is Americans' leisure travel. Why? Because, for one, taking leisure trips is a good indication that Americans feel they have the means to devote a portion of their budget to travel. They are comfortable spending money, and it will be going to hotel stays, in eating out at restaurants, in booking a flight, etc.
Secondly, it shows that not only can they travel, but that they want to travel. Spending money on a vacation, on treating themselves to a little, dare I say, luxury, is okay. Which means maybe it's getting a little more acceptable for businesses to do the same.
Considering this, the meetings and events industry will be happy to know that leisure travel this summer is "remarkably stable," according to the annual summer forecast by the U.S. Travel Association. Summer travel is expected to encompass 322 million domestic leisure person-trips during June, July and August 2009. Americans are expected to take an average of two trips, stay approximately seven nights away from home, and spend over $900 on their longest summer trip.
Though the overall summer travel in 2009 actually shows a slight decline of 2.2 percent, more American households (54 percent) are planning to take at least one leisure trip this year as compared to last year (50 percent). Additionally, 51 percent of leisure travelers plan to spend the same amount on their summer vacations.