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From Top Destinations to Go-To Tech, Travel Bloggers Predict 2016 Tourism TrendsCuba, Iceland and China Rank among Most Popular Countries to Visit Next Year

Respondents Travel an Average of 88 Days per Year; 17% Travel More Than Six Months per Year
NEW YORK,  October 30, 2015 -- 

In a time when the value of experiences rivals that of material possessions, travel has become a constant aspiration, and no one knows this more than the travel blogging community—many of whom have turned it into a living.

This community of writers, photographers and documentarians travel an average of 88 days of the year, spending an average of $2,415 per trip, according to the TBEX Travel Professionals Survey commissioned by the Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG®) Credit Card from American Express. In fact, 17% travel more than six months of the year.

"Having witnessed the prominence of the travel blogging community throughout the last few years, we were curious to measure the community's impact and capture the wisdom of the crowd," said Lisa Kalhans, Vice President of Co-Brand, American Express.

Types of Trips & Dream Destinations
From luxury destinations to eco-travel, the breadth and depth of travel experiences sought after by this community is vast. However, travel bloggers name their most sought-after trip as adventure experiences (69%), followed by food & wine tastings (65%) and off-the-beaten path trips (64%).

On these trips, travel bloggers look for authenticity and immersive activities, with most popular experiences being local food and fine dining (83%) and local cultural events (75%). Experiencing nature (67%) rounds out the top three sought-after activities. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the National Parks emerged as the fourth most popular domestic destination for bloggers to visit in 2016, with 21% reporting they are excited to take in these natural sites.

Travel bloggers rank the U.S. cities as follows:

  • New Orleans, LA (22%)
  • New York, NY (21%)
  • Portland, OR (12%)
  • Austin, TX (10%)

Top international destinations include:

  • Iceland (13%)
  • China (11%)
  • Japan (10%)
  • New Zealand (10%)
  • With restored relations with the U.S. earlier this year, Cuba (9%) rounds out the top five international destinations to visit.

Tricks of the Trade
When asked for their top tips for consumers, respondents report thorough research, such as reading reviews or blogs (18%), as their number one piece of advice. However, they also cite the importance of spontaneity on a trip as the second most important tip (16%). Additionally, travel bloggers recommend a few other pieces of key advice to help the novice traveler, including asking questions or talking to locals (12%) and packing light (12%).

When asked the amount they spend on a trip, travel bloggers report spending an average of $2,415. To help offset these costs, a whopping 79% use rewards or program points on hotels or flights.

Always on the Go: Tech Trends & Amenities You Need to Know
Whether sharing photos or writing about their adventures on websites, travel bloggers understand the perks of technology. According to this social media-savvy community, the top two trends shaping the travel industry in 2016 are more sharing on social media (11%) and more use of mobile travel-related apps (10%).

Although apps are great when on the go, so is Wi-Fi: 64% of travel bloggers say it's extremely important when deciding which destination/attraction/hotel to visit. In fact, it ranks as one of the top three factors influencing hotel choice. Ranked ahead of Wi-Fi are proximity to city center or attraction of interest and price.

About TBEX Travel Professionals Survey
Results are based on 205 travel professionals who participated in a web survey administered by Amplitude Research between October 2 and October 15, 2015. Participants were from a list provided by TBEX, the world's largest gathering of travel bloggers, writers, new media content creators, and social media savvy travel industry professionals.

About American Express
American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at americanexpress.com and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpress, foursquare.com/americanexpress, linkedin.com/company/american-express, twitter.com/americanexpress, and youtube.com/americanexpress.

Key links to products and services: charge and credit cards, business credit cards, Plenti rewards program, travel services, gift cards, prepaid cards, merchant services, corporate card and business travel.

About Starwood Preferred Guest
Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG®) is an innovative, award-winning frequent traveler program that unites each of Starwood's 9 distinctive hotel brands and includes more luxury hotels in more destinations around the world. SPG reinvented the hospitality loyalty landscape when it launched in 1999 with its breakthrough policy of no blackout dates, and over the years has continued its tradition of innovation with enhancements such as Cash + Points, SPG MomentsSM, and most recently Your24™ and SPG Lifetime™. In addition to Free Night Awards at more than 1,200 hotels and resorts and Award Flights on over 350 major airlines without blackout dates, the Starpoints® that members earn through SPG can be redeemed for access like no other to experiences in music, sports and the arts through SPG Moments. SPG offers the opportunity for meeting and travel professionals to earn rich rewards including Starpoints and elite status through SPG Pro. SPG also has an ongoing commitment to digital innovation to meet the needs of today's connected global traveler – from the SPG app for iPhone that utilizes state-aware technology to create a more personalized hotel stay to Starwood's Best Rate Guarantee on SPG.com, to SPG's integration within various social media platforms. Offerings such as these have helped SPG build a passionate member base among the world's most frequent travelers. Learn more at spg.com, spg.com/pro and spg.com/moments and connect with us on facebook.com/spg, twitter.com/spg, foursquare.com/spg, pinterest.com/spglife, and youtube.com/spg.

About TBEX (Travel Blog Exchange) Events
The TBEX conference has grown into the most popular annual gathering of bloggers, writers and new media content creators in the travel and lifestyle sphere today. TBEX also attracts some of the world's best-known brands, as well as various tourism bureaus as sponsors who are eager to connect with bloggers and web writers. Airbnb, American Express, GoGo LLC, Expedia, Lonely Planet, Starwood, Vail Resorts, Viator, and support the conferences alongside tourism offices such as those of Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau, Australia, Baton Rouge, British Columbia, Canadian Tourism Commission, Cancun, Denver, Greek National Tourism Organization, Jordan Tourism Board, Macau Government Tourism Board, Reno/Tahoe USA, Toronto, Travel Alberta, and worldwide resorts and hospitality companies.

TBEX's goal is to mobilize and assist bloggers with promoting, monetizing, improving their work and influence, as well as helping PR and industry professionals to connect with the right content creators to benefit their brands and destinations.

TBEX is owned by NMX Events, which also produces New Media Expo, the world's largest social media exhibition and conference.


Contacts

Jane DiLeo212.640.8055Jane.E.DiLeo@aexp.comWilliam Tsang212.640.0933william.d.tsang@aexp.com

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