Affluent travelers pick their favorite brands

When some of the wealthiest U.S. consumers think about how to spend their money, their thoughts often turn to travel -- and the brand names they prefer run the gamut from Ritz-Carlton to Starwood to Southwest.

According to a study compiled by Mendelsohn Media Research, about 43% of U.S. consumers with annual household incomes of $85,000 or more (the top 22% of U.S. consumers, Mendelsohn said) said they were planning within the next 12 months to take a cruise or vacation outside the U.S.

Travel appeared to be the most popular pastime compared with other survey choices -- about 41% of respondents said they were planning to invest in stocks and mutual funds, for example. 

According to the survey, 23% had taken a cruise within the past three years. The most popular cruise line: Carnival Cruise Lines.

Meanwhile, another study released by Yesawich Pepperdine Brown & Russell surveyed brand preferences of affluent travelers -- in this case, consumers with annual household incomes above $150,000.

Holland America Line topped the list of nine "luxury cruise lines affluent travelers are interested in patronizing during the next two years." Cunard and Windstar came in second and third, respectively.

YPB&R also asked survey respondents to pick their top three preferred hotel brands for leisure and business travel, top three preferred independent hotels and their top three preferred airlines.  "The concept of 'value' isn't lost on well-heeled travelers ... as evidenced by the fact that fully one out of five affluent business travelers prefers ... Southwest," the report said.

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