25 Oct

Travel agents in 2012 – more valued and more used

Number of people booking foreign holidays on the high street up 10% in three years.

The ABTA 2012 Consumer Travel Trends Survey has found that in the last three years there has been a 10% increase in people booking an overseas holiday through their high street travel agent, with 27% of people now using this method to book.

The percentage of people booking a foreign holiday through a high street travel agent has grown from 17% in 2010, to 25% in 2011 and 27% in 2012. In addition, the percentage of people booking a domestic holiday through a high street travel agent has almost doubled in a year, from 8% in 2011 to 13% in 2012. 

Consumer sentiment towards travel agents also appears to have become more positive over the past 12 months. Customers appear to be rediscovering the benefits and skills of travel agents with the number that value their services climbing from 30% to 40% in the last 12 months. Women are particularly positive towards travel agents with 43% of women saying they value their services, higher than men at 37%.

Responses when asked, I value the services a travel agent offers:

  Agree Neutral Disagree
2011 30% 50% 21%
2012 40% 41% 20%

Younger generation travel agents’ biggest fans.

45% of 15-24 year olds value the services of a travel agent, up from 30% in 2011. One of the key drivers behind this increase appears to be younger people valuing high street travel agents’ ability to find what they need and offer advice on new destinations and activities. More than half [52%] of this age group also believe that travel agents are good at finding what customers need, up from 36% in 2011.

The younger generation and those a little more mature, also share a growing desire for the personal touch, with four in ten of 15-44 year olds in 2012 stating that they prefer the reassurance of dealing with someone face-to-face when booking; in 2011 this was only true of one in four of this age group. This is perhaps a reflection of the growing need of the digital generation for guidance and help with the bewildering choice available on the internet.

Victoria Bacon ABTA Head of Communications said: “It is increasingly apparent that people are realising the benefits of what a travel agent can offer. The Internet has been fantastic in opening up choice but the survey shows that consumers value the help of a human being and the reassurance of dealing with someone face to face.”

*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 2008 consumers using an online research methodology and related to holiday booking habits in the 12 months to September 2012. Fieldwork was conducted in September 2012.