Higher gas prices driving travelers online to pre-plan vacations

Higher gas prices driving travelers online to pre-plan vacations

Travelers nationwide are having to deal with higher gas prices. Fortunately, this has not seemed to significantly deter leisure or business travel in North America. However, an emerging trend shows that travelers are using technology more to help budget travel expenses in advance. With the increase cost of gasoline, many Americans want to know in advance where they can get discounts on lodging, food, and attractions.
According to the 2006 National Leisure Travel Monitor, 64 percent of leisure travelers have used the Internet to obtain travel information, compared to 59 percent in 2005 and 35 percent in 2004. The American Automobile Association (AAA) has seen a significant increase in the number of American and Canadian travelers who are using technology to estimate fuel costs, plan road trips, and access savings and discount information in advance of their trip.
The Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) website, www.marylandmemories.com, is a valuable tool for people planning to visit this area. It features a Special Deals area with suggested itineraries and discount packages for a variety of interests--from Sports to History to Theater. There's also the Vacation Value Pass, which offers discounts for lodging, shopping, recreation, and area attractions. The free Vacation Value Pass is available on the website and can be printed out for special discounts, good through March 2007.
The CVB also offers incentives for group travel. There is currently a Gallons To Go program offering a $100 free fuel card to the first 50 bus companies that consume a minimum of 20 hotel rooms per night. According to CVB President Tom Riford, "This program is valid for new hotel room contracts and the group must be traveling by motor coach. We want to not only welcome bus groups to Washington County, but let them know they have an added incentive to come here!" The $100 gift card for fuel will be awarded upon departure from the hotel.
The CVB website offers a wealth of information including maps, listings for lodging, dining, and shopping, details about area attractions, recreational opportunities, and a calendar of events. "You can book a room for your stay on the website or even watch a short video highlighting popular destinations and events in Washington County," according to Riford. "Our web site has seen a huge increase in unique visitors during the past two years, as more and more people use the Internet to plan their travel." Riford said the CVB's new on-line video was very popular, "It really highlights what's here in Washington County, and we're one of the few CVB's in the nation with an on-line travelogue showcasing our entire county."
The CVB's web site also has an on-line gift shop, maps, free photos for download, on-line greeting cards, and also a special section for kids and teachers. The site also contains historical information about Washington County and its communities, as well as newsletters and news articles.
AAA market research has found that 42 percent of recent visits to online mapping sites were made to plan an out of town vacation. The Travel Industry Association (TIA) reported last year that while the number of Americans using the Internet appears to have reached a plateau, those who plan and book trips or a vacation online continues to climb rapidly.
(BOLD)The Conference Board
Recently released a special survey of American households, and two-thirds of American families say they hadn't scaled back summer vacations because of higher gas prices. However, among families who are changing plans because higher gas prices, 63-percent say they will be staying closer to home, about 26-percent say they have postponed or shortened their vacations this year, and about the same number say they are canceling vacation plans because of high gas prices. Not-for-profit and non-partisan, The Conference Board is one of the world's leading research and business membership organizations. It produces the widely-watched Consumer Confidence Index, Help-Wanted Advertising Index, and Leading Economic Indicators for the U.S. and eight other major nations.
For more information, log on to the Hagerstown-Washington County CVB website at
www.marylandmemories.com The newly improved web site was designed by DH Web of Hagerstown.