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Survey Gauges Green Desires of Canadian Travelers

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OTTAWA, ONT.—The latest results from the 2013 HAC Canadian Travel Intentions Survey show that 44 percent of business travelers (up 8 percent from 2009) said environmental initiatives such as water recycling and energy efficiency are important to them. Thirty-six percent of leisure and business travelers said it is important for hotels to have green products. Twenty-six percent of leisure travelers and business travelers said a hotel with an environmental certification program is important to them. Twenty percent of business travelers and leisure travelers said the ability to purchase carbon credits is very important to them. Forty-nine percent of travelers said they would pay $1 or more to offset their stay at a property (carbon credits), up five percent over last year.

Business and leisure travel is projected to be up two percent in 2013. Eighty-two percent of business travelers said they would be doing more or the same amount of business travel in Canada in 2013 as they did in 2012 with the highest percentage coming from Ontario. Eighty-four percent of leisure travelers said they will be traveling more or the same for vacation this year. While overall, leisure travel has increased slightly, 34 percent of respondents from British Columbia said they would be traveling more for leisure, 11 percent more than the national average.

Respondents in the Prairies were the most uncertain regarding leisure travel with 17 percent indicating they will travel less than last year and eight percent stating they don’t know what their leisure travel plans are for 2013. Of those who said they would be traveling less for leisure in 2013, 31 percent said they were doing so because of financial difficulties while the cost of air fare was also identified as a leading reason for traveling less.

Airfare Costs Impacting Travel

Business travelers who said they would be traveling less this year said the number one reason for doing so is the cost of airfare in Canada (34 percent), followed by the use of tele/video conferencing (23 percent). British Columbia (48 percent) and Ontario (36 percent) business travelers cite the cost of airfare as a reason for traveling less in 2013. These two provinces lead the country for the number of travelers going to the United States to buy less expensive airline tickets.

Travelers were asked how many times in 2012 they took a “staycation” where they stayed in a hotel in their home town and visited local attractions, shopped and ate at local restaurants. Thirty-one percent said they did, up 9 percent over 2012 numbers. An additional 14 percent said they would consider it in 2013.

“More ‘staycationers’ than ever are vacationing in their own town or city,” said Tony Pollard, HAC president. “With the high cost of airline tickets and the price of gasoline, people want the feel of a vacation by staying in a hotel but are staying closer to home to make it more affordable.”

Social Media Sites Used More Frequently

Since 2009 the Internet has become the most popular way for people to make their hotel reservations. Fifty-nine percent of leisure and 62 percent of business travelers use only the Internet to make their reservations. When asked about where they gathered information for their last trip, 73 percent of leisure and 61 percent of business travelers said the Internet. When asked about their use of social media sites in 2012, almost double the number of business travelers (15 percent) said they used social media sites to get travel information, than those that did in 2011 (8 percent).

The top five things leisure travelers are looking for on the Internet are photos, maps, specials, amenities and guest ratings. Topping the list for business travelers is directions, photos, amenities, specials and shopping for rates. Of all of the things that can influence leisure and business travelers accommodation choices, star and diamond ratings top the list at 74 percent for leisure and 76 percent for business travelers. On the business side, the influence of travel blogs is up significantly over last year’s numbers, with 18 percent saying they have influence on their accommodation choices in 2012 and 31 percent in 2013. The influence of social media has doubled over last year’s numbers from 12 percent in 2012 to 24 percent in 2013.

Almost 60 percent of travelers use smart phones when they travel. This year the survey asked that group what they used their smart phones for while traveling. The majority (41percent) said they use their smart phones to check the weather. Travelers are equally concerned about missing connections or flights being delayed, with 29 percent checking departure and arrival times, similar to 2012. Thirty-eight percent said they use GPS and/or get directions on their smart phones, an increase of six percent since 2011. Of those that book their travel via smart phones, 39 percent said they intend to use it more in 2013, and 45 percent said they would use their smart phones the same amount as in 2012.

Facebook Participation About the Same

Facebook continues to be popular. Twenty-four percent of travelers (similar to 2012) said they use their smart phones to check their messages and update their status on Facebook. Eleven percent book hotels and 15 percent book air, train, or bus tickets on their Smartphones, up eight percent over 2012 figures. Seven percent said that they use their mobile phones to Tweet.

Travelers were asked what they would like to see included in a hotel mobile app. The top five answers continue to be finding a hotel’s location, booking a hotel room, checking a reservation, calling for reservation support/customer service, and linking to a hotel’s full website.

“In 2012 the greatest percentage of travelers calling for these types of hotel mobile apps was in the 25 to 34 age range, but the 35 to 44 age range has surpassed them in our 2013 survey,” Pollard said. “As all age groups embrace the app technology, hotels have the opportunity to develop something that meets the needs of a growing market of travelers.”

When asked about hotel service the majority of travelers said that hotel service in 2012 was superior to that of the past. Forty-seven percent said hotel service in 2012 was better than hotel service in 2011, 50 percent said it was better than two years ago and 51 percent said it was better than five years ago.

The 2013 survey of Canadian travelers is the ninth annual Canadian Travel Intention study undertaken by the Hotel Association of Canada. This survey was fielded by Opinion Search and defines a traveler as someone who will stay at least one night in a hotel, motel or resort. The online survey was conducted in the second and third weeks of January 2013 among 1,505 “likely travelers” with a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percent.

Go to the Hotel Association of Canada.

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