CONSUMER SURVEY CONFIRMS VALUE OF AGENTS
February 28, 2014
People who use travel agents are more likely to be happier with their trips than those who don’t, according to a new survey from ASTA. The study also found that use of traditional travel agents is growing.
The survey, the “Value of Travel Agents,” was sponsored by Carnival Cruise Lines and conducted by travel consulting firm MMGY Global. The results were presented at a press conference in New York City on Thursday.
MMGY polled nearly 8,400 Americans who had incomes of more than $50,000 and who had traveled within the last year.
Use of agents is growing
The study found that 13% of travelers used a traditional travel agent in the past year—about one in 10 Americans—up from 11% percent a few years ago.
Among leisure travelers who did not use a travel agent in the past year, 41% said they were open to using one in the future.
Millennials accounted for 29% of those who used an agent; Boomers accounted for 22%, and Gen Xers accounted for about 50%.
Overall, more than half of leisure travelers who used an agent said their vacations were better than trips they had booked without agent assistance.
Millennials who used an agent were most likely (59%) to report that their vacations were better as a result, followed closely by Boomers (58%) and Gen Xers (53%).
“The survey results are important, because they demonstrate the value of using a travel agent to consumers,” said Zane Kerby, president of ASTA.
Consumers who use a travel agent also travel more, taking one more trip a year than consumers who don’t use an agent – an average 4.7 trips a year, compared to 3.6, according to the study.
Consulting the pros
The convenience of having an expert plan a trip as well as travel professionals’ knowledge of destinations and suppliers were the top reasons for using agents, the survey found.
Respondents said their agents were their most influential source for selecting hotels, vacation packages, destinations, airlines and cruises.
On the flip side, more than half of those who did not use an agent said they simply “never thought to do so.” Their primary reason for not using an agent was control over trip research and organization.
What can you do for me?
People who use travel agents are happy about their use of them and happy in life,” said Steve Cohen, vice president of insights for MMGY Global.
“The problem is that not enough people recognize what travel agents can do for them,” he added.
“The opportunity [for agencies] isn’t to convince [consumers] why they’re better; it’s just to convince them that agents are still there.”
Business travel trends
The study also considered business travel trends.
It found that about two in 10 people used an agent to book their business travel in the last year.
Here too the data indicated that those who used agents for business travel make more trips per year than those who don’t.
Business travelers who use agents are also more likely to book travel over the phone direct with a travel service supplier.