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US Market Profile

California remains the No. 1 travel destination in the country. The Golden State’s abundance and distinct laid-back culture are appealing to both in-state and out-of-state travelers, with more than three-fourths of total visitors to California hailing from domestic points of origin. While current political realities have had different effects on audiences in different states, California remains a haven for innovation and a beacon for the country, fueling strong domestic travel growth year over year.


  • For cash-strapped Millennials, affordable and experience-driven outdoor activities are growing in popularity.
  • Culinary discovery is the norm and travelers are seeking authentic, new, and hard to find culinary experiences.
  • Travelers are becoming more conscious about their travel, delving into the cultural, environmental, and social issues impacting their destinations.
  • The top tier social influencer commands more importance than ever as new platforms allow social media stars to expand their brands to ever loyal audiences.
  • Trips with a purpose are increasing in popularity, with destination seekers looking for life-changing experiences, volunteer missions and skill development.

U.S. Profile

217.4 Million
In-Person Trips, 2018 (Total)
$78.8 Billion
Visitor Spending, 2018 (Total)

Market Conditions

GDP Annual Growth Rate

GDP Annual Growth Rate in the United States is expected to be 2.90 percent by the end of the last quarter of 2018. Looking forward, it is estimated that GDP Annual Growth Rate in the United States will stand at 2.70 in 12 months’ time. In the long-term, the U.S. GDP Annual Growth Rate is projected to trend around 1.70 percent in 2020.

Consumer Sentiment

Consumer sentiment was steady at 97.5 in December 2018 and above market expectations based on preliminary estimates of 97.


Primary Western Markets

  • Top DMAs: Las Vegas (24.3%); Phoenix (23.9%); Seattle (12.2%); Portland (11.6%); Salt Lake City (8.6%); Denver (7.4%); Reno (3.3%)
  • 67.9% Drive; 30.1% Air; 2.0% Other
  • 35% With children under 18
  • $548 Per trip
  • 35% Trip decision less than 1 month before travel
  • Top online planning sources: Search engine (28.5%); Travel provider website (21.1%); OTA (16.2%); Destination website (14.6%); Facebook (11.9%); Travel review site (7.5%)

Top Long-Haul Markets

  • TOP DMAs: New York City (12.8%); Chicago (7.9%); Dallas (7.3%); Miami/Ft. Lauderdale (5.2%); Houston (4.7%); St. Louis 3.3%; Washington, D.C. 3.2%; Philadelphia 2.6%; Detroit 2.4%; Boston 2.4%
  • 44.1% Drive; 49.3% Air; 6.6% Other
  • 34% With children under 18
  • $958 Per trip
  • 32% Trip decision less than 1 month before travel
  • Top online planning resources: Travel provider website (27.2%); Search engine (24.2%); OTA (19.9%); Facebook (13.9)%; Destination website (13.1%); Travel review site (10.0%)

Market Barriers & Risk Factors


Top 2017 Media Spenders

Other Market Insights


  • Strong domestic market, driven by buoyant consumers, low unemployment and high GDP growth.
  • U.S. Consumers remain exuberant —Consumer confidence and sentiment reaches highs not seen since the late nineties.
  • Unemployment is 3.7%, lowest on record since 1969.
  • GDP is on track to grow 2.9% in 2018. If it hits 3% would be the fastest growth since 2005.

Continued Travel growth seen in 2018

  •  Domestic demand is leading growth
  • International growth is slowing but still grew by 0.7% in 2018

In 2019, U.S. economic growth predicted to slow but remain positive

  • Predicted 2.7% GDP growth in 2019
  • Some warnings for U.S. economy include to watch if there is a trade war escalation or financial market stress.

Trends seen in travel product experience include:

  • Road Trips: Road Trips are on the rise despite rising gas prices.
  • OverTourism: Heavy foot traffic in certain destinations, including U.S. National Parks, is causing travel providers to consider new sustainable strategies for familiar destinations.
  • Immersion: Emphasis on travel experiences grows, including truly immersive travel experiences.
  • Culinary Discovery: Distinctive Culinary experiences has become a mainstream part of the travel itinerary. Being motivated to vacation as a way to try new cuisines has grown (51% of domestic travelers in 2014 to 70% in 2018).
  • Domestic vacation travelers are also becoming more adventurous, most interested in authentic (71%), new (70%), and hard to find (61%) culinary experiences.
  • Millennial Camping: Affordable and nature-focused outdoor experiences continue to grow in popularity for millennials.
  • Access Economy continues to increase, from Airbnb, to Uber, engaging in a guided tour with Vayable, and dining with locals through EatWith.
  • Slow Travel in increasingly adventurous destinations: an increasing number of travelers of all ages and backgrounds want to spend a month or more in one unique place.


  • Travelers intended to spend the same amount on vacations in 2018 as they did in 2017—an average of approximately $4,300 per household.
  • Millennial family travel spend increases with an intent to spend 15% more in travel in 2018 ($4,577 household average) than they did in 2017 ($4,099 household average) Gen Z—an audience of gaining interest by travel markets. ‘With generation Z set to outnumber millennials in 2019, travel brands are gearing up for a new generation of tourists.’
  • China’s international travelers continue to evolve as a travel audience, with travel experiences and communication increasingly shaped for this valuable traveler.
  • Rise of the Conscious and Purpose Driven Traveler— There is more traveler awareness of environmental, social, cultural issues related to destinations. For example, 86 percent of global travelers report they would take time to offset the environmental impact of their stay.
  • Additionally, trips with a purpose will become more popular in 2019 including cultural exchanges to learn a new skill, volunteering and international work placements.

Some trends include:

  • Goal to maintain brand loyalty: Increasing importance of maintaining connection to a customer in a world where brand loyalty is sometimes fragile.
  • Rise of the Hyper Social Influencer: Social influencing becomes ever more of a business, with new platforms that allow social media stars to solidify their brand status.
    • At same time, more reports of consumer push back against paid social media, including Instagram posts too obviously designed to push user sharing.
  • Tech continues as a rising force in Travel: artificial intelligence, virtual reality and speech recognition are believed to be innovations that will gradually take over, with aim of simplifying and streamlining travel decision making and experience.



  • DKSA
  • TravelTrakAmerica
  • CIC Research
  • Dean Runyan
  • Carat CCS
  • Tourism Economics/Haver Analytics
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • NTTO
  • STR
  • BTS
  • Tourism Economics
  • Kiplinger
  • Longwoods
  • MMGY Portrait of American Traveler
  • JWT The Future 100
  • Adventure Travel Association
  • EuroMonitor Mega Trends 2018