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Hotwire releases the first state of summer travel report

Hotwire releases the first state of summer travel report featuring pricing data, insights and deals for affordable summer getaways. Data indicates hotel and car rental prices are up, while airfare is slightly down, and Florida could be this summer's deal destination with deep discounts across the board

SAN FRANCISCO -  With summer just around the corner,, a leading discount travel site, revealed its first-ever State of Summer Travel Report. This forecast gives travelers expert insight on recent trends for the upcoming period of peak demand, so consumers will feel more empowered to take control of their vacations. The industry insiders at Hotwire have gathered key data for summer travel and have projected ways to save on hotel, air and car rental bookings. Based on information collected this year, Florida has emerged as one of the season's top deal destinations, with affordable prices across the board.

"Summer trends are still developing, but we feel like this is the perfect time for folks to get a sense of what to expect over the coming months. The State of Summer Travel Report is a combination of insights and tips designed to help budget-savvy travelers make the most of their summer vacations," said Clem Bason, president of the Hotwire Group. "To save the most on travel this summer, it really depends on where you're going and how you're planning to get there. However, with a little flexibility and some insider travel information, all of us should be able to book a summer trip and score some great savings at the same time."

Current hotel outlook for summer travel season

Pricing: Hotel prices on Hotwire currently are up four percent vs. summer 2012.

What to expect: According to recent conversations with hoteliers, the hotel landscape this summer is a mixed bag of higher and lower demand, depending on the market. As a result, many analysts and hotel managers are being a bit cautious when predicting how much the travel industry will grow overall. That said, with The Commerce Department reporting that the US economy continues to rebound[1], this could lead to more leisure and business travel. More travel would increase demand and would likely also raise prices. To promote booking stability, hotels are rewarding guests who stay for longer than three nights with improved discounts – so planning for a longer stay is always a good choice when looking for value.

When to book: Analyzing historic trends, we see that the bulk of summer bookings are generally made during the late spring and early summer months, resulting in higher prices during that time period. So, the best times for deal-seeking travelers to book hotels tends to be middle or late summer—late July and throughout August. This is when prices generally begin to drop and discount-hunters can score some incredible last-minute savings.

Deal Markets: Mid-sized cities tend to have lower rates because travelers do not target them as main vacation destinations. Many of these spots are also up-and-coming "sleeper" cities that have done a lot to bolster their offerings for travelers, but their overall tourism – and as such, prices – hasn't caught up yet. On the other hand, some popular vacation hubs, such as cities like Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, can also serve up great deals when the timing is right. In these two Floridian hot spots, we expect hotel occupancy to be down this summer due to a reduction in business travel. As a result, hotels could offset the dip in business visitors by trying to attract leisure travelers with low prices. For example, you can get a hotel room for as low as $35 in the Disney Main Gate – Celebration area in June.

Another hot destination for this summer is Washington, D.C., where some top hotels are currently offering discounts of more than 50 percent as government reductions are limiting visitation to the region.

Current airfare outlook for summer travel season

Pricing: Domestic average ticket prices are currently up four percent vs. summer 2012.

What to expect: This year, it seems that many airlines are slowly increasing capacity, which can be great news for travelers who like to journey a little farther from home. With more seats being added pre-summer, airfares are beginning to slow their increase and in some markets they have even come down. If this trend continues, budget-conscious travelers could be able to find better deals than in 2012. But, as we move closer to the summer months, booking ahead will be a good strategy and timing purchases will be key for folks looking to lock-in affordable flights.

When to book: Start off by targeting August travel dates. So far, it's proving to be the most affordable month to fly, with the potential for even bigger discounts versus last year. It's also particularly important to closely monitor airfare prices when making important flight purchases. By knowing what standard prices look like for your desired routes, you'll be able to recognize price drops quickly. But don't wait too long to act; airfare can increase quickly.

Deal Markets: It may be surprising, but popular flight routes such as New York (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX) are offering discounts upwards of 38 percent. Other discounted routes include New York (JFK) to San Francisco (SFO) and Boston (BOS) to Orlando (MCO), where roundtrip airfare can start as low as $193.

Current car rental outlook for summer travel season

Pricing: Car rental prices on Hotwire are currently up seven percent vs. summer 2012.

What to expect: We've seen car rental agencies in 2013 turn around their recent trend towards discounting. It's believed that industry consolidation and smaller fleets are what have led to price increases over the past year leading into this year. Moreover, some of the larger rental agencies are estimating that summer demand will be higher this year, which might push rates up even more. While it's still too early to tell whether prices will increase for the summer for certain, the coming weeks will determine what the car rental market will look like for June and beyond. But even if deals become harder to find, using a few tricks can net some savings.

When to book: If you're renting a car, think about traveling on a Friday and Saturday as rental companies tend to offer the best deals over the weekend. Also, if you're thinking about renting mid-week, try extending your trip to cover the full week because you'll score a weekly discounted rate which is considerably lower than daily rates.

Deal Markets: Currently, some of the larger price cuts are in beach destinations like Florida's West Palm Beach (down 16 percent at $17 per day) and Myrtle Beach (down 11 percent), but some of the major metropolises like Chicago (12 percent) and New York (10 percent) are seeing good values as well.

Note: all sample rates reflect searches on 4/11/13 for bookings made 6/13/13 – 6/16/13. Average daily rates reflect bookings across star-categories (hotels) or vehicle classes (cars) made on Hotwire U.S. points of sale between 1/1/13-3/15/13 for travel between 6/1/13-8/30/13. Air fare pricing and capacity data is provided by Expedia, Inc. for the same booking and travel periods stated above.

[1] The nation's gross domestic product, a measure of all goods and services produced in the economy, advanced 2.5 percent in Q1 2013, according to the Commerce Department.

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