London tops list of Amex Travel destinations

Where are Americans and Canadians heading this year as they plan their trips for 2015? Top spots tend to be both perennial favorites and exciting new destinations, according to customer booking data and survey findings collected from travel counselors at American Express Travel. Topping the list of trending destinations are London, a lasting favorite enjoyed for its famous landmarks and culture, and Santiago, Chile, offering a range of experiences for travelers wanting outdoor adventures or an opportunity to sample the food and wine unique to the region.

The survey also found that 86% percent of travel counselors report customers are spending more (43%) or the same (43%) on travel in 2015 compared to last year, with many customers splurging on certain aspects to enrich their trip, including:

  • Spending more to upgrade hotel accommodations (47%)
  • Planning on-trip activities (39%)
  • Taking longer trips (38%)
  • Upgrading their class of airline service (32%)

“We turned to our travel counselors to gain insight on what is trending in 2015 based on their first-hand experience with travelers every day,” says Laura Fink, vice president, global marketing and communications at American Express Travel. “Travelers want to see the world on their own terms, and they are willing to spend more on things like room accommodations and on-trip activities in order to create memorable experiences.”

Trending Travel Destinations for 2015

Based on destinations booked with the greatest year-over-year growth, American Express Travel customers are turning to large cosmopolitan cities for their escapes this year. Joining London and Santiago are favorites like New York, San Francisco, and also far-flung locales like Mumbai, for a growing interest in Bollywood, and Buenos Aires, a city that immerses travelers in both European and local culture. The top ten trending destinations for 2015 are:

  1. London, England
  2. Santiago, Chile
  3. Paris, France
  4. Mumbai, India
  5. Buenos Aires, Argentina
  6. Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
  7. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  8. Sydney, Australia
  9. New York, NY
  10. San Francisco, CA

Separately, based on the survey findings, American Express retail travel counselors said they are also seeing an increase in demand for New Zealand, as well as Vietnam, Myanmar, Croatia, Iceland and Italy.

Other Notable Travel Counselor Insights:

  • Memories Reign Over Savings – When asked about what their customers’ attitude toward travel is, more than one third of Travel Counselors noted they are eager to take trips and spend on memorable experiences, while another third said customers want to take trips but focus on cost / savings. Twenty-one percent answered their customers are more adventurous and want to explore new destinations, and 7% said customers want to get away but will visit the same tried-and-true destinations.
  • Customization Remains a Priority for 2015 When asked where they focus most of their time helping customers, 67% of Travel Counselors indicated it is spent crafting customized itineraries. This includes typical arrangements such as selecting the best flight and hotel accommodations, using their local destination expertise for planning on-trip activities, and scheduling free time for customers to simply relax or explore the destination on their own.
  • Tours Rank Highest Among Trip Planning Requests – Travelers want help in booking tours on their trips (57%), as well as make restaurant reservations (19%) and cultural activities/museums (16%). Travelers are also looking for personalized tours that offer a more intimate and hands-on experience, such as wine tours or local cooking classes.
  • Cruise Bookings Make Waves – Cruises remain a popular option – with a twist: while more than half (51%) of survey respondents expect to see an increase in overall bookings this year, 56% of these agents agree that river cruising will be a top trend this year. Compared to ocean cruises, river cruises are able to travel inland, giving travelers the chance to discover unique and local areas on a more intimate boat.
  • Family Vacations Still Popular – Family travel will continue to reign in the New Year. More customers are planning to vacation with their family next year compared to any other trip. About one-in-four (23%) travel counselors surveyed say their customers plan to travel with their immediate family, while 19% see multi-generational family vacations on the rise.

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