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American Express Survey Reports Top Summer Travel Trends

May 19, 2009

A new American Express survey shows that Americans continue to book summer vacations and are being savvier when making their travel plans. According to the majority of travel agents polled, travelers are adjusting to the recession by making slight changes to help offset their summer vacation costs. Cashing in credit card rewards points and/or frequent flyer miles is a popular money-saving strategy according to 92 percent of agents.

"Consumers are looking for ways to stretch their travel dollars," said Tracey Beberman, vice president of Membership Rewards Marketing & Partnerships, American Express. "We’re certainly seeing this at American Express. Our cardmembers are using Membership Rewards points to book everything from flights to cruises to vacation tour packages. It’s a smart strategy to help get more out of a summer vacation while spending less."

According to agents, other popular money-saving strategies include booking vacations closer to dates of travel to take advantage of last-minute deals, taking closer-to-home trips, and choosing destinations where the dollar goes further.  According to the American Express report, agents say that their clients feel that their summer vacation is too important to their mental health to give up in spite of the economy. In fact, 45 percent of agents say that travelers are booking about the same length summer vacation this year as in the past, and one in four agents report are hearing that travelers are willing to sacrifice other luxuries in order to go on their summer vacation.

Almost half (48 percent) of travel agents report that some travelers are taking advantage of the abundance of travel deals currently available allowing them to upgrade in other areas of their summer vacation. The most popular trip elements that travelers are applying their savings from deals and discounts toward are room upgrades, first-class airfare, and a longer length of stay.

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