by Sarah J.F. Braley | October 19, 2016

Visitors spend considerably more during their stay in a study compared with the average traveler, according to the J.D. Power 2016 Destination Experience Satisfaction Study, which was released today. The findings are based on responses gathered between February and July 2016 from more than 26,000 travelers who visited a U.S. metropolitan area between December 2015 and July 2016.

The first iteration of this study measured the overall satisfaction among visitors to the top 50 U.S. travel destinations for business or leisure, looking at six factors: activities, cost and fees, food and beverage, infrastructure, lodging and travel/arrival.

On average, the study found that visitors spend an average of $1,169 on a trip, or $301 per day. However, visitors who said they were especially delighted with their experience (rating their overall satisfaction a 10 out of 10) spent $1,446, or 24 percent more than the average. Those who are either indifferent (rating their experience with a 6 or 7) or disappointed (rating it 5 or lower) spent nearly $250 less per trip than average -- marking a 37 percent difference in spending between those who were delighted and disappointed. 

"Interestingly, while visitors spend more when they have a great experience, they're also more satisfied with the value they receive for their expenditure," said Rick Garlick, global travel and hospitality practice lead at J.D. Power. "Especially for cities that are perhaps less thought of for tourism, the investment in creating a superb visitor experience can really pay off." 

Destinations were ranked on a 1,000-point scale. The top 20 are Las Vegas (827); Austin, Texas (818); Orlando (815); Miami (814); New Orleans (814); Charleston, S.C. (814); Oahu Island, Hawaii (813); San Diego (812); Dallas (811); Myrtle Beach, S.C. (809); San Antonio (807); New York City (805); Denver (803); Oklahoma City, Okla. (803); Norfolk/Virginia Beach, Va. (801); Fort Worth, Texas (801); Annaheim, Calif. (801); Los Angeles (800); Charlotte, N.C. (799); and Columbus, Ohio (799).

Other findings from the study include:

• The Northeast/Mid-Atlantic region has the highest proportion of visitors who are most likely to return (73 percent) and recommend their destinations to others (65 percent). The West, however, contains cities such as Anaheim, Denver and San Diego, to which people have the fondest emotional attachment, with 39 percent saying they would be "greatly disappointed" if they could not return.
• Las Vegas and New Orleans are among the top five for lodging, food and beverage, and entertainment, which includes shopping, nightlife, zoos, aquariums and gaming. Orlando is among the top five cities for lodging and entertainment, and Oahu Island is among the leaders for food and beverage and entertainment.
• Those who travel to a destination for business purposes enjoy their trips slightly more than those who travel for leisure (806 vs. 795, respectively). J.D. Power says satisfaction with cost and fees plays a role, as business travelers frequently have their trip paid for by their employer. Satisfaction in the travel/arrival factor is also higher among business travelers than leisure travelers.
• The study found that 95 percent of visitors feel safe traveling in the United States. 

For more information about the 2016 Destination Experience Satisfaction Study, click here.