22 Sep

Bookings with travel agents rise

In the past 12 months, there appears to have been a shift away from booking directly with service providers most notably to booking with a travel agent (either online or on the high street) according to new research* by ABTA.

In 2013, 41% booked at least one overseas holiday directly with a service provider, compared to 34% this year. During the same time period, more people booked both an overseas holiday and a domestic holiday with a travel agent, either online or on the high street. The shift is particularly marked for domestic holidays: one in ten (10%) people said they booked a domestic holiday with a high street travel agent in 2014 (up from 7% in 2013) and 16% booked with an online travel agent (up from 12% in 2013).

Bookings with general holiday booking websites have remained stable, direct bookings with tour operators have increased slightly.

Table 1.1 – Who holidays have been booked with 2013/14**

  2013   2014  
  UK holidays Holidays abroad UK holidays Holidays abroad
A high street travel agent 7% 19% 10% 20%
A travel agent online 12% 23% 16% 25%
Directly with a tour operaator (eithher online or in person) 14% 20% 16% 21%
A general hooliday booking website e.g. Expedia 25% 29% 26% 29%
Directly with the service providers e.g. an airline or hotel 51% 41% 45% 34%













High street travel agents are particularly popular among 35-44 year olds, with over a quarter (28%) booking a holiday abroad in this way suggesting that those booking family holidays welcome the benefits of face-to-face contact. Travel agents are also particularly popular with younger consumers aged 16-24 with 18% using a high street travel agent and 36% travel agent online to book at least one overseas holiday People aged 65 and over were the most likely to book directly with a tour operator, 43% booked an overseas holiday like this.

There are also some notable regional variations in the way consumers book their holidays with those outside London far more likely to use a travel agent than those in London; only 11% of Londoners booked a holiday abroad using a high street travel agent compared to an average of 20%.

The research also revealed that travel professionals were most valued for the ease of booking (51%), for saving time (46%) and for saving money (41%) suggesting that this shift in booking may be due to these reasons.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive said: “It is encouraging to see more holidaymakers using travel professionals to book their holiday, when family finances are tight we know that they are also looking for that extra security that booking with a travel agent or tour operator can bring. People may also perhaps be realising that DIY holidays are time consuming to put together and value having someone else do the hard work for their holiday.”

*Consumer research was conducted by Arkenford Ltd (www.arkenford.co.uk) who specialise in tourism and leisure market research. The ABTA Consumer Trends survey generated response from a nationally representative sample of 2001 consumers using an online research methodology and related to holiday booking habits in the 12 months to July 2014. Fieldwork was conducted in July 2014.

A full summary of the research findings can be found in our Consumer Holiday Trends Report 2014.

**Figures do not add up to 100% because consumers were asked about all the holidays they booked. Many consumers had booked more than one holiday using different methods for each booking.