Business travel and leisure travel are picking up, says Hotel Association of Canada

The latest results from the 2013 HAC Canadian Travel Intentions Survey show that business and leisure travel is projected to be up two per cent in 2013. Eighty-two per cent of business travellers said they would be doing more or the same amount of business travel in Canada in 2013 as they did in 2012 with the highest percentage coming from Ontario. Eighty-four per cent of leisure travellers said they will be travelling more or the same for vacation this year.

While overall, leisure travel has increased slightly, 34 per cent of respondents from BC said they would be travelling more for leisure, 11 per cent more than the national average. Respondents in the Prairies were the most uncertain regarding leisure travel with 17 per cent indicating they will travel less than last year and eight per cent stating they don’t know what their leisure travel plans are for 2013. Of those who said they would be travelling less for leisure in 2013, 31 per cent said they were doing so because of financial difficulties while the cost of air fare was also identified as a leading reason for travelling less.

Business travellers who said they would be travelling less this year said the number one reason for doing so is the cost of air fare in Canada (34%), followed by the use of tele/video conferencing (23%). BC (48%) and ON (36%) business travellers cite the cost of air fare as a reason for travelling less in 2013. These two provinces lead the country for the number of travellers going to the U.S. to buy less expensive air line tickets.

Staycation – Trending up

Travellers were asked how many times in 2012 they took a ‘staycation’ where they stayed in a hotel in their home town and visited local attractions, shopped and ate at local restaurants. Thirty-one percent said they did, up nine per cent over 2012 numbers. A further 14 per cent said they would consider it in 2013.

“More ‘staycationers’ than ever are vacationing in their own town or city,” said Tony Pollard, HAC President. “With the high cost of air line tickets and the price of gasoline, people want the feel of a vacation by staying in a hotel but are staying closer to home to make it more affordable.”

Social media becoming more popular

Since 2009 the Internet has become the most popular way for people to make their hotel reservations. Fifty-nine per cent of leisure and 62 per cent of business travellers use only the Internet to make their reservations. When asked about where they gathered information for their last trip, 73 per cent of leisure and 61 per cent of business travellers said the Internet. When asked about their use of social media sites in 2012, almost double the number of business travellers (15%) said they used social media sites to get travel information, than those that did in 2011 (eight per cent).

The top five things leisure travellers are looking for on the Internet are photos, maps, specials, amenities and guest ratings. Topping the list for business travellers is directions, photos, amenities, specials and shopping for rates. Of all of the things that can influence leisure and business travellers accommodation choices, star and diamond ratings top the list at 74 per cent for leisure and 76 per cent for business travellers. On the business side, the influence of travel blogs is up significantly over last year’s numbers, with 18 per cent saying they have influence on their accommodation choices in 2012 and 31 per cent in 2013. The influence of social media has doubled over last year’s numbers from 12 per cent in 2012 to 24 per cent in 2013.

Smartphones – Weather obsessed Canadians

Almost 60 per cent of travellers use smart phones when they travel. This year the survey asked that group what they used their smart phones for while travelling. The majority (41%) said they use their smart phones to check the weather. Travellers are equally concerned about missing connections or flights being delayed, with 29 per cent checking departure and arrival times, similar to 2012. Thirty-eight per cent said they use GPS and/or get directions on their smart phones, an increase of six per cent since 2011. Of those that book their travel via smart phones, 39 per cent said they intend to use it more in 2013, and 45 per cent said they would use their smart phones the same amount as in 2012.

Facebook continues to be popular. Twenty-four per cent of travellers (similar to 2012) said they use their smart phones to check their messages and update their status on Facebook. Eleven per cent book hotels and 15 percent book air, train, or bus tickets on their Smartphones, up eight per cent over 2012 figures. Seven percent said that they use their mobile phones to Tweet.

Travellers were asked what they would like to see included in a hotel mobile app. The top five answers continue to be finding a hotel’s location, booking a hotel room, checking a reservation, calling for reservation support/customer service, and linking to a hotel’s full web site.

“In 2012 the greatest percentage of travellers calling for these types of hotel mobile apps was in the 25-34 age range, but the 35-44 age range has surpassed them in our 2013 survey. As all age groups embrace the app technology, hotels have the opportunity to develop something that meets the needs of a growing market of travellers,” said Mr. Pollard.

Customer service, food and beverage

When asked about hotel service the majority of travellers said that hotel service in 2012 was superior to that of the past. Forty-seven per cent said hotel service in 2012 was better than hotel service in 2011, 50 per cent said it was better than two years ago and 51 per cent said it was better than five years ago.

Environment remains important

Forty-four per cent of business travellers (up eight per cent from 2009) said environmental initiatives such as water recycling and energy efficiency are important to them. Thirty-six per cent of leisure and business travellers said it is important for hotels to have green products. Twenty-six per cent of leisure travellers and business travellers said a hotel with an environmental certification program is important to them.

Twenty per cent of business travellers and leisure travellers said the ability to purchase carbon credits is very important to them. Forty-nine percent of travellers said they would pay $1 or more to offset their stay at a property (carbon credits), up five per cent over last year.

About the 2013 Travel Intentions Survey

The 2013 survey of Canadian travellers is the ninth annual Canadian Travel Intention study undertaken by the Hotel Association of Canada. This survey was fielded by Opinion Search and defines a traveller as someone who will stay at least one night in a hotel, motel or resort. The online survey was conducted in the second and third weeks of January 2013 among 1505 “likely travellers” with a margin of error of +/- 2.5%.

About the Hotel Association of Canada

Celebrating its Centennial Anniversary, the Hotel Association of Canada is the national voice and resource for the Hotel and Lodging Industry in Canada. For 100 years, it has worked to enhance the prosperity of the Canadian Hotel and Lodging Industry through strong member engagements, effective government advocacy, and the provision of value added programs and services. The Hotel Association represents more than 8,400 hotels, motels and resorts that encompass the $16 billion Canadian hotel industry which employs 284,000 people across Canada.

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