Expedia Releases 2012 Flip Flop Report: Study Examines Beachgoer Behavior and Preferences Across Five Continents

Maldives Promotion House – Expedia.com, the world’s largest online travel agency, released the results of the 2012 Flip Flop Report, an analysis of behavior and preferences among beachgoers in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Harris Interactive, on behalf of Expedia.com, conducted the online study among 8,599 adults in 21 countries.

Among other findings, Expedia’s Flip Flop Report revealed that the beach is by far the favorite destination for the majority of the world’s travelers. The average beach holiday is just about one week in length, at 7.7 days. Combined with results from Expedia’s Vacation Deprivation study(1), we can see in the US that Americans spend a full 40% of their allotted vacation days at the beach. In fact, when Americans were asked to choose between spending time at the beach and spending time with family, the beach won handily.

“Beach vacations are such an important part of most travelers. We’ve just completed our first annual Flip Flop Report which digs deep into what people like about beach travel. Not surprisingly, what they like when they’re planning a trip is saving money” said Joe Megibow, vice president and general manager, Expedia.com. “The report also shows that, once people are actually on vacation, they find a wide variety of ways to have their own kind of fun, whether that’s sports in the sand, surfing in the waves or whatever kind of sunbathing they prefer.”

It also finds beachgoers worldwide remain cost-conscious. In the US, the most important factor for 78% of beachgoers is the total trip price. The beach itself matters too — total vacation price and beach quality are the #1 and #2 criteria for travelers in 14 of the 21 countries surveyed — but the cost of the visit is the top consideration. The study also found:

The Popularity of the Beach is Unsurpassed. More than half (52%) of respondents plan to holiday at the beach in the next 12 months, compared to 45% who said they took a beach vacation the year prior. And while the average stay for a beach vacation is 7.7 days, this is less true of Koreans, Japanese and Singaporeans, who seem more likely to prefer beach weekends to extended stays. Additionally:

  • Argentineans are the most sun-soaked, spending an average of 11 days at a time, while Koreans spent a mere 3.2 days per trip.
  • Americans are creatures of habit: one of the least important criteria for Americans when selecting a beach location is the desire to find a new location.
  • For Indians, new locations were among the highest priority.

For Most Beachgoers, the Most Popular Activity is No Activity At All (as most holiday makers visiting Maldives). Relaxing and sunbathing, were among the top two activities for beachgoers across all five continents. The Irish, at 75%, were the most likely to relax, while Mexicans (79%) seem to be happiest with lying in the sun. Brazilians (40%) were likeliest to exercise on the beach; when doing so, they may well stumble over the Japanese, who were 14 times likelier to relax (28%) than exercise (2%). Additionally:

  • Koreans, at 49%, were likeliest to “eat raw food” on the beach. Koreans are unlikely to draw envious stares from Norwegians, who at 1% showed the most aversion to the practice.
  • New Zealanders (36%) and Australians (35%) were most likely to fish at the beach.
  • Canadians were likeliest to strap on a snorkel (34%).
  • 82% of Germans spend beach time swimming. Only 28% of the Japanese do the same.

Germans are Likeliest to Sunbathe Nude. Germans displayed the most permissive attitudes towards nude sunbathing. A full 15% of German respondents indicated that they sunbathed naked. Indians and Spaniards (8%) were the second-likeliest to shed their clothing, while the French (5% clothing-free) were more aligned with Americans (2%), the British (2%) and the Japanese (1%). Perhaps unsurprisingly, Germans seem to be the most popular beachgoers: when asked if they’d spent beach days with strangers, the Germans (23%) and Brazilians (19%) were likeliest to say they had. Additionally:

  • Indians (22%), Canadians (20%), Mexicans (19%), Italians (18%) and the Irish (18%) were likeliest to have participated in “beach bar games.”
  • 31% of Singaporeans had spent beach time at the spa, versus 3% of the Japanese and 5% of the Dutch.
  • Indian (39%), Mexican (34%), Brazilian (30%) and Argentinean (27%) beachgoers were most likely to dance on the beach.

Beachgoers Have Never Gotten Over “Jaws”. Expedia’s Flip Flop Report revealed that beachgoers remain wary of sharks. Well under 100 shark bite incidents are reported worldwide each year,(3) making shark encounters extraordinarily rare. Yet the menace prevails: 50% of travelers consider the presence of sharks when deciding where to holiday, and a full 68% of beach vacationers admit to having been afraid to swim because of sharks, while beachgoers to Maldives are least concerned about sharks as there is NO shark attacks reported for the past 10 years in the atolls. Additionally:

  • Residents of Brazil (70%) and Singapore (67%) were the most attuned to sharks when planning their beach vacation.
  • Only 3% of Italians always think of sharks before entering the water.

This survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Expedia.com from February 14 – March 21, 2012.

Expedia.com is the world’s largest online travel agency and offers bookings for 93 hotels and resorts in the Maldives.

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