TRO Travelmole hosted a webinar on the topic of ATI’s DriveAmerica Program last week. The strong attendance at that event is indicative of the growing interest in domestic road travel leading the way in travel’s recovery. The presentation above by MMGY’s Clayton Reid on travel’s likely path out of the current low point lends further credibility to the importance of domestic road travel in the coming months.
The increased prevalence of leisure road trips this year is leading one company to begin working more aggressively with travel professionals, offering self-drive tours and door-to-door driving instruction with local attraction and activity information along the route. AmericanTours International (ATI) has long been a primary tour resource for AAA clubs nationwide, and is now working with the wider travel professional community. ATI’s DriveAmerica platform offers a wide variety of curated itineraries, including guaranteed hotel accommodations and activities, all commissionable to travel professionals.
The platform also enables travel professionals to fully customize or plan their customer’s journey from scratch. “Our new DriveAmerica tour planning technology empowers travel professionals to design their customer’s next great American road trip,” said Nick Hentschel, ATI’s Chief Operating Officer. The launch of this new functionality is complemented by ATI’s joint marketing campaigns with Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks as well as with Travel South USA. It also coincides with US Travel’s recently launched “Let’s Go There” campaign, which is intended to inspire travel professional and consumers to begin making their future travel plans.
Many may think that road trip vacations are not necessarily lucrative enough for travel professionals to partake, but this is not the case. For example, a one-week drive vacation for a couple and their children would average approximately $2,000. If joined by other extended family members or friends, the booking easily can jump to $10,000, depending on the number of participants, accommodations and included activities. To take advantage of this trend, ATI also announced a new concierge service that allows travel professionals to add specialty services to their DriveAmerica tours, such as deluxe transportation, private guides, and other unique experiences.
Indeed, from recent travel data it appears road trips are going to be a primary agenda item for a rising number of US Travelers. According to market research consultancy Longwoods International in a recently completed a survey, nearly 50% of US travelers are ready to begin traveling again, and 69% have travel plans in the next six months depending on the trajectory of coronavirus developments.
According to their recently published Travel Sentiment Study – Wave 20, the number of travelers who feel safe traveling outside of their community has risen to 49% at the end of August, versus a low of 35% in May and 38% in July. Longwood’s study, fielded from a national sample of 1,000 adults 18+ years old, indicates the related factors of coronavirus and concerns about the economy remain the major influence on potential travelers’ decision making process. The uptick in attitude toward travel plans, however, indicates a degree of confidence may be returning.
Visiting friends and relatives, (known as “VFR travel”), remains the most often cited reason for travel at 26% and purely vacation or getaway travel by car is in the plans for 13% of those surveyed. Approximately 14% are planning travel by plane during the next six weeks.
“Clearly a sizeable percentage of the travelers have settled into a new ‘normal’ for traveling during the pandemic,” said Amir Eylon, President and CEO of Longwoods International. “The heavy emphasis on visiting friends and family, road trips and individual outdoor activities all reflect on the relative perceived safety of those types of getaways.”
It is likely the increased interest in travel with family and the choice of outdoor venues, plus the record low gas prices in most states, are important factors along with the pent-up demand to travel. Travelers feel they have more control of the travel environment in an automobile than they would in an airport or airplane with less contact with the public.
Travel professionals wishing to access ATI DriveAmerica booking technology can register to do so here.