While MMGY Global still believes an economic recession
affecting travel is coming, travelers in 2019 plan to spend what they spent
last year, indicating that a recession is not around the corner.
"The good news is we're seeing some fairly positive
results," said Chris Davidson, executive vice president of MMGY Travel
Intelligence, MMGY Global's research and insights company.
Earlier this year, MMGY CEO Clayton Reid predicted a market
change within the next 12 to 18 months.
MMGY's 2019-2020 Portrait of the American Traveler survey,
released Wednesday, found that while travelers plan to take slightly fewer
trips in 2019 than they did in 2018 (3.2 this year compared to 3.5 last year),
they will spend about the same. Survey takers reported they spent $5,038 on
travel in 2018. They project they will spend $5,025 in 2019.
Davidson said MMGY's supplier clients are reporting that
travel demand has never been stronger.
Also encouraging, Davidson said, is the amount survey takers
said they would spend in 2018, which was around $4,200, compared to what they
reported they spent in 2018 in this year's survey, $5,038.
In an interview after unveiling survey results, Davidson
said the timing of a potential recession is up for debate. While Reid believed
it would happen within the next 12 months, data indicates it could be farther
"I don't see a travel recession based on these current
numbers within the next 12 months, but things can happen," he said.
The survey asked about travel agent usage. This year, 16% of
respondents said they used an agent in the last 12 months, up 2 percentage
points from last year (but down from 19% in 2016). Nineteen percent plan to use
the services of an agent in the next two years, up 3 percentage points from
last year, but down from 23% in 2017.
Davidson said he believes the popularity of travel advisors
will increase, as consumers have indicated they increasingly want to get the
most out of their vacation and ensure nothing goes wrong in their travels.
MMGY polls a section of the population representative of
active leisure travelers. It surveyed U.S. adults who have taken at least one
overnight trip 75 miles or more from home in the previous 12 months and have a
household income of $50,000 or more. Davidson said that represents around 23%
of the population.