Summer Holiday Plans Among Europeans and Americans

In 2017, summer holiday plans are on the rise again in all countries. More short leaves are in the works and the average budget is in decline.

The author(s)

  • Fabienne Simon Ipsos Public Affairs, France
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Conducted by Ipsos at the request of Europ Assistance on a sample of 10,000 individuals in Europe (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Austria, United Kingdom and Switzerland), in the United States and in Brazil, the aim of this reference survey – carried out by Internet and published for the 17th year running – is to offer an annual estimate of the holiday plans of the citizens of the countries in question, in addition to their motivations, destinations and preferred types of trip.

In 2017, more Europeans and Americans will go on summer holiday

After the drop seen in 2016, the outlook for Europeans' summer holiday plans this year appears sunnier: 63% of them report they will take leave this summer, which is a 9-point gain over 2016. This rise was seen in all the population groups surveyed: 66% of Austrians (+3 pts), 65% of the French (+8 pts versus 2016), 63% of Germans (+8 pts), 61% of Italians (+9 pts), 60% of Belgians (+13 pts), and 58% of Spaniards (+9 pts). Along with Austria, Switzerland, which was surveyed for the first time, will have the highest percentage of holidaymakers with 66% having holiday plans this summer. Meanwhile, the British also posted a high score (65%), on par with the French.

The phenomenon extends to the United States, where holiday plans are 5 points higher than last year with 66%, matching the level measured in Brazil (66%, or + 2 pts versus 2016).

This year there is an overall rebalancing of holiday plans across the various countries, with reduced gaps between those with the highest and lowest rates of holidaymakers.

Similarly, the increase is uniform across all social categories. Although there are still significant lags between high-income families and low-income families, the rise in European holiday plans was seen among executives and office clerks (respectively +5 pts to 77% and +12 pts to 73%), as well as among manual workers (63%, +13 pts), retirees (51%, +6 pts) and the unemployed (48%, +12 pts).

More holidaymakers this summer, but a shorter average leave...

The rise in the number of holidaymakers is partially explained by an increase in shorter trips instead of extended holidays.

At the European level, there is a rise in breaks lasting a few days (10%, +1 pt) or a week (32%, +4 pts), at the expense of two-week trips (35%, -5 pts) and longer trips of 4 or more weeks (9%, -3 pts).

Overall, this summer Europeans will take 1.9 week of holiday (compared to 2.4 weeks last year).

… And a more limited holiday budget

This year, the average budget reported by Europeans for their summer holiday is €1,989.

Because more Europeans are planning holidays this summer and the average duration of their leave is shorter, the average budget is down 12% compared to last year*. The same phenomenon of shrinking holiday budgets also pertains to the other side of the Atlantic.

In these conditions, budget is once again the top decision-making factor cited by holidaymakers to explain their destination this summer (55%, +17 pts), while climate returned to third place (44%, +2). The risk of terrorism, which is now taken under consideration by holidaymakers, is still the number 2 decision-making factor, with a slightly higher degree of concern (48%, + 8 pts). Indicating a still-tense environment, there was a significant rise in the level of fear of attacks (41%, +10 pts).

* With the same scope as 2016, i.e. excluding the United Kingdom and Switzerland, which were not part of the survey last year.

Domestic holidays are still preferred and seaside destinations continue to attract most holidaymakers

As in previous years, domestic travel is a favourite with Europeans, the majority of whom plan to stay in their own country. In the Latin European countries, the score is over 50% (France: 63%; Italy: 56%; Spain: 52%), whereas the figure is lower in the United Kingdom (31%), Germany (28%) and Austria (30%). Between June and September, Europeans' top destinations are still Italy, Spain and France.

Across the Atlantic, domestic travel is preferred by 41% of Americans and 34% of Brazilians. The most foreign destinations most frequented by Americans are Canada (8%), Mexico (7%) and Italy (5%). Meanwhile, Brazilians plan to holiday in Argentina (10%), France and in Italy (5% each).

Therefore, once again this year, sunny destinations with multiple seaside resort options will be the most favoured by holidaymakers (64%, -3 pts), but there is a returning interest in urban holidays this year (24%, + 6 pts), particularly in conjunction with the rise in short breaks.

Although the majority of holidaymakers seek the comfort of a hotel...

Hotel stays are still, by far, the most popular form of lodging chosen by European (47%), American (57%) and Brazilian (59%) holidaymakers. However, other types of travel and accommodations are winning over more and more people. First, a growing share of holidaymakers are interested in the person-to-person lodging arrangements (35%), which ranks second behind hotels: an average of 45% among Europeans (compared to just 34% in 2016). 

… alternative lodging options are now attracting a large share of holidaymakers, especially across the Atlantic

Parallel to these traditional solutions, holidaymakers are looking for something new, original accommodations or unusual experiences.

New tourism practices that are more in touch with nature are also appealing: 23% of Europeans have participated in primitive camping, 18% have slept in a cabin and 13% have engaged in eco-tourism (exploring nature while minimising harmful impacts).

Along the same lines, 24% of Europeans, in search of an authentic experience, have slept in a private home and 12% have participated in socially responsible tourism alongside local populations.  

On the other side of the Atlantic, such practices are already well established in the value system, especially among Americans: 48% have done primitive camping and 40% have slept in a cabin (compared to 26% and 41% of Brazilians). 

They are also more familiar with private home hosting solutions (41% of Brazilians and 30% of Americans) and welcoming travellers into their homes (18% of Brazilians and 14% of Americans).

Online reviews and recommendations: a widespread practice and a decisive factor in choosing lodging

Checking online opinions is now a common practice among holidaymakers: it is now the third decision-making criterion in selecting holiday lodging (31% in Europe, 31% in the United States and 28% in Brazil), behind value (respectively 67%, 56%, 58%) and location (53%, 60%, 39%).

But holidaymakers do not simply consider reviews from others: they have also adopted the habit of giving their own recommendations online, though Americans and Brazilians do so more systematically than Europeans.

Hotels are the service that elicits the most online reviews: 60% of Europeans have posted a comment about hotel lodging and as many as 68% of Americans and 71% of Brazilians. There are comparatively fewer comments about seasonal rentals (43% of Europeans, 47% of Americans and 54% of Brazilians).

Restaurants are the second-most popular service when it comes to consumer comments (67% of Americans and 70% of Brazilians, compared to 51% of Europeans).

In Europe, airlines come in last place in the ranking (34%), whereas they are much more frequently rated by Americans (52%) and Brazilians (59%).

Finally, Americans and Brazilians have a greater tendency to give their opinions about tourist attractions than Europeans (respectively 56% and 68% compared to 41%). 

The author(s)

  • Fabienne Simon Ipsos Public Affairs, France

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