August 21, 2012 13:58 ET

ALTOUR's Travel Index Finds Travelers Booking for the Long Term and in Groups

Long-Term Advanced Bookings Are Up as Well as Escorted Tours and FIT Travel

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Aug 21, 2012) - As the summer winds down, ALTOUR's August Travel Index is seeing consumers eager to book their next vacations at least 6 months in advance. The luxury travel expert's bi-monthly survey of hundreds of leisure travel agents also shows an increase in bookings for escorted tours and foreign independent travel (FIT). ALTOUR agents have also found that customers are doing a little more research of their own before booking travel.

2012 was a stronger summer than 2011 for travel and the August ALTOUR Index shows encouraging signs that 2013 is going to be a strong year as well. ALTOUR agents have seen a 9% increase over the last Travel Index in June with clients now booking travel 180+ days in advance. The encouraging news of advanced booking is echoed by Las Vegas-based ALTOUR agent, Ena Langford: "It's been a while since we have had a steady flow of clients booking in advance, but I do this year and they are large bookings." 

In addition to advanced bookings, ALTOUR agents are finding an increase in bookings of escorted travel and heavy demand for Foreign Independent Travel (FIT) over 2011. The rise in escorted travel is due to travelers wanting, "that comfort of having other people to go with them; having it all planned out and having someone with you," according to Springboro, Ohio-based ALTOUR agent Jeannie Anderson. While some travelers prefer the planned out itinerary of escorted travel, ALTOUR agents like Paula Finn based in Old Bethpage, New York are finding some people "want more customized tours" afforded by booking FITs. This trend can be seen in the August Travel Index with 44% of ALTOUR's agents reporting a higher demand for FITs over this time last year.

With the proliferation of travel information on the Internet, customers are able to do their own research before booking. ALTOUR agents have reported a 5% increase in their customers doing some research before engaging an agent. While this information can be helpful in deciding where to travel, it doesn't make their decision any easier says Denver-based ALTOUR agent, Betsy Everhart, "The overwhelming amount of information on the Internet is great because it gives you a lot of choices, but they need someone who has years of experience to let them know what they are buying and access to a 24/7 Travel Support Center that can accommodate customers who want to have someone to talk to if things do go awry."

2012 has been an improved travel year for travel bookings over 2011 and now savvy travelers with the expert information are starting to look forward to a strong 2013.

ALTOUR is one of the world's leading independent travel organizations with a workforce of over 1,100 professionals in fifty-seven offices on three continents. With $1.3 billion turnover in 2011, ALTOUR is recognized as an international industry leader providing essential travel and service solutions the world over. The company's core remains its renowned business travel management capabilities, with divisions dedicated to such diverse fields as leisure travel, performance improvement, sports travel, entertainment travel, as well as meetings and event services. ALTOUR's principal divisions are complemented by flexible sister companies providing private air charter services and limousine services. ALTOUR has been named to the "CMI 25" as one of Corporate Meetings & Incentives' best in the industry. For more information please visit