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Tuesday, 17 December 2013 05:34

USTOA Members Reveal Travel Trends for 2014

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In an annual survey of travel forecasts and trends for the U.S. Tour Operators Association (USTOA), nine out of ten of active tour operator members anticipate a growth in sales in 2014 with nearly two-thirds of members “optimistic” and forecasting a “boom year” with growth anywhere from seven percent to ten percent or higher.   


“We’ve been hearing anecdotally from members about how strong business has been this year and now the survey both validates and exceeds expectations for the health of our members’ business. What’s really interesting about these results is that more than half of those members attribute the increase in business this year to an improving economy and consumer confidence, which is a positive sign for the industry in general,” said Terry Dale, president and CEO of USTOA. “With total annual sales of $11 billion, the members of USTOA represent a significant footprint in our industry, a fact that brings added firepower to our continued advocacy role on Capitol Hill."    

Experiential Travel Trends  

When asked to name the top three “off-the-beaten-path” or emerging destinations that will gain popularity in 2014, members cited Myanmar (for the second year in a row), Vietnam and Cambodia (tied for second), and India.  At the same time, members named Italy, the United Kingdom/Britain, China, and Peru (tied for third) as the most popular destinations for their clients in 2014.

“Nearly forty percent of members named Europe as the region of the world offering the most experiential travel options, perhaps not surprising given the wealth of cultural and gastronomic experiences available,” said Dale. Asia ranked second followed by South America.     

Among emerging experiential trends in the industry, more than three-quarters of members named river cruises as a top trend; with sports travel to events like the World Cup and Olympics coming in second, faith-based travel third and travel related to pop entertainment (TV and film destinations).    

Marketing Trends

With a growing importance on social media channels to reach and engage consumers, USTOA also asked active tour operator members which channels they currently utilize for marketing. Facebook was named by nearly all, followed by Twitter, Youtube, a company blog, Pinterest, and Flickr.   

Nearly two-thirds of members said they dedicated one to five percent of their annual marketing budget on social media. Sixty percent of respondents plan to increase social media budgets in 2014, half forecasting from six to ten percent while twenty-two percent of members will increase budget as much as twenty-five percent.   

The primary reason member companies use social media is to drive traffic to their website, closely followed by consumer engagement and marketing special offers, and customer service and/or reservations.    

Potential Threats  

“While our members view 2014 with optimism, political instability and uncertainty could undermine confidence to travel in affected regions in the coming year,” said Dale.  The second potential threat named was natural disasters, followed by global financial instability, pandemics and other health crises, the strength of the U.S. dollar, and, lastly, terrorism.   

For questions and more information on USTOA, visit, call 212-599-6599, or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .   

Source: USTOA

Read 4430 times Last modified on Tuesday, 17 December 2013 05:34

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