The official start of summer is less than week away, and you're
probably dreaming about your
already. But there's more to vacations than just enjoying some time
away. By tapping into vacation trends, you can spot profitable
No matter what the economy is like, you can count on one thing:
People will figure out how to make the most of whatever time they
can take off. Looking at what they're most likely to do can uncover
some ways you can make money -- and there's nothing better than
taking a vacation with profits you earned by making smart
Staying close to home
During the go-go years of the economic boom, luxury vacations were
all the rage. All it took was a home-equity loan to afford whatever
you wanted to do, as companies such as
Las Vegas Sands
ever-more opulent casino resorts
to woo would-be travelers.
But during the recession, high-cost vacations gave way to
so-called "staycations" -- effectively, staying close to home,
living in your own house rather than getting a hotel, and taking
advantage of free or cheap things to do around town. That trend was
responsible for a lot of pain in the industry, with Las Vegas Sands
going from a profit of $117 million in 2007 to a loss of $355
million in 2009.
Now, though, vacationers are ready to get out of town. But at
least if current trends hold up, they're
probably not going to go far
Hitting the road
A number of surveys have looked at likely travel behavior for the
coming summer months. Here's a quick summary of some of their
- Nearly six out of 10 Americans plan to take a trip this
summer, up from just over half last year.
- People aren't planning to go very far, though. Only 20% will
get to U.S. destinations by air this year, and only 14% plan to
- Based on sales of camping equipment, it looks as though
demand for camping trips is on the rise.
If those trends persist, you'll find some clear winners and
Winner: theme parks
When it comes to a family-friendly vacation without going too far
are a logical choice. With
having locations around the country, you don't need to rely on the
) theme parks for family fun.
Last month, Six Flags reported promising results and
better-than-expected sales even during the industry's typical
offseason. If those trends hold up, investors could find themselves
rooting for long lines instead of suffering through them.
Winner: outdoors retailers
When camping gets popular, it's good news for the companies that
produce and sell camping gear. Such stocks include bootmaker
) , which has already seen substantial sales growth in the past
year. Similarly, retailer
) caters to hunting, fishing, and camping fans, and the company has
posted good results lately despite falling short of lofty investor
With air travel down, airlines could well see their recoveries come
to a standstill.
Delta Air Lines
(DAL) topped the list of companies collecting the most in baggage
fees from customers in 2010, approaching the $1 billion mark. Extra
money from fees has helped many airlines stay profitable despite
high fuel costs and the impact of the recession.
But higher air fares are taking their toll on summer traveler
(LUV) is starting to lose its former status as the king of
discounters, with average ticket prices rising nearly 40% in the
past five years. If fares don't show some relief soon, any chance
of salvaging the summer season could disappear.
Of course, it's important to remember that in the long run for
these businesses, a single three-month season isn't going to make a
huge difference. Nevertheless, by spotting trends ahead of the
investing masses, you'll at least be better prepared to hear good
news from those companies that see the most benefit -- as well as
the inevitable excuses from those that fall short.
Expensive oil is hurting vacationers, but it isn't a bad thing
for some companies. Read the Fool's latest special free report to
find out the names of three stocks that love $100 oil.
is ready to fly away for his vacation. He doesn't own shares of
the companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns
shares of Timberland. Motley Fool newsletter services have
recommended buying shares of Cabela's, Disney, Timberland, and
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