After two relatively weak Spring Break travel seasons, 2010 looks to be a renaissance year for the near rite of passage for college students around the country. Based on the findings from the latest Insights Immersion, we attribute the marked shift in behavior to a series of factors. For starters, there is a palpable sense of pent up demand, especially among seasoned student travelers that didn't take a trip last spring or perhaps even during their most recent summer break. Also, unlike years past, we saw a significant percentage of student travelers finalize their plans and associated logistics mid way through the fall semester. Related to the advanced planning, we also observed more students traveling in larger groups, typically five or more, which opened them up to group travel discounts in addition to early booking discounts. Lastly, an increasing number of student travelers said their parents were paying for at least some of their if not all of it. Either things are improving in households, or once again parents are sacrificing other purchases for their children's benefit and enjoyment. For many students, especially the first time travelers, Spring Break 2010 will be the notable event or activity of the year.
When all is said and done, 46% of students said they will be traveling during Spring Break, compared to 39% of students last year. Among the 46% of students who will be traveling, more than four in ten (42%) said this was their first Spring Break trip as a college student. The demographic makeup of travelers skews slightly female and planned travel is highest among students attending a school in the northeast and far south.
Planned spending, inclusive of airfare, transportation, lodging, clothing and entertainment came in at $619, up from $572 last year. Spring Breakers will spend an average of four days and three nights at their vacation destinations. Comparatively different from last year, we've seen a resurgence in the number of students who will travel to international destinations, led mainly by spots in Mexico and to a lesser extent, various Caribbean islands. Thirty-six percent of students will travel internationally during Spring Break, up considerably from just 21% of travelers last year.
Among the 64% of students traveling domestically, the top vacation destinations include Panama City Beach, Orlando, South Padre Island, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and relative newcomer Las Vegas. The top international spots are dominated by Mexican resort towns led by Cancun and followed by Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. Those students headed to international locales will spend about 32% more on travel and lodging compared to those students who will leave their passports at home.
About half of all student travelers, some 53% said their parents were paying for their entire trip, inclusive of spending money, while 77% said their parents were helping them out financially with at least some of their vacation-related costs. The financial responsibility aspect is perhaps the most impactful difference for students traveling this season. Last year, only about one in three students (31%) said their parents were paying for their Spring Break trip in full, while 57% said they received some financial support from their folks.
Given the return of a robust Spring Break travel season, media companies and brand marketers can once again consider targeted location-based events and other types of marketing programs as viable elements within their overall youth marketing and media mix.