The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) today announced the release of its new study, “Best of Both Worlds: Quantifying How Travel Agents Save Consumers Time and Money,” which was sponsored by Carnival Cruise Lines. The full report is now available for purchase on the ASTA website.
“With the support of Carnival Cruise Lines, this project has allowed us to highlight a number of positive trends that will help ASTA member travel agents better communicate their value proposition when marketing themselves to new and existing clients,” said ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby. “Agents, travel suppliers and many others will find actionable insights in the report, including that travel agent usage is at its highest rate since we started commissioning independent consumer research three years ago and that agents save consumers significant dollars and planning time per trip. Rich data coupled with key verbatims on why consumers do and don’t use an agent to book travel make this report a powerful tool now available to both ASTA and non-ASTA members alike.”
The core objectives of the study, which reached more than 14,000 U.S. households, included finding patterns related to overall travel agent usage; factors related to how a traveler chooses a travel consultant; and for what occasions travelers use an agent. Agents, travel suppliers and other industry players will find benefit in the study’s results through actionable insights and data coupled with common reasons given for using or not using an agent. These factors plus key demographic trends will help pivot industry marketing strategies towards the strength and value of the travel agency channel.
Key insights of the report, which was conducted by market research firm TNS Global, include:
In the past 12 months, 22% of consumers booked through a travel agent, the highest share reported in the past three years.
With Millennials leading the way in both travel agent usage and likelihood to recommend their agents to friends and family, no industry player should risk ignoring the tremendous opportunity this generation represents. Capitalizing on the optimal way to sell to Millennials through the agency channel will be crucial to growing agency and related supplier business over the next five years.
When looking back on their past travel experiences, almost two-thirds of agent users said using one makes the overall trip experience better, with multiple other benefits of using a travel agent captured in the report. Conversely, to persuade non-agent users to consider using one, travel agents can focus on specific value provided to the consumer, which might range from saving clients money to helping them avoid mistakes and more.
“At this point, consumers have tried it all – they’ve booked online, they’ve gone direct, and they’ve used a travel agent,” continued Kerby. “This study dispels once and for all the myth that booking direct with suppliers or spending hours online yourself gets you a better deal or gives you a happier travel experience. In short, if you want a better travel experience, use an agent.”
Members of the press are encouraged to join Zane Kerby and Kevin Wang, ASTA Director, Research & Industry Affairs at a virtual press conference to discuss the benefits of the research as well as its high-level findings on Monday, June 13 at 11am ET. Register here!
The full report is available for purchase on the ASTA website.
ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) members represent 80 percent of all travel sold in the United States through the travel agency distribution channel. Together with hundreds of internationally based members, it is the leading global advocate for travel agents, the travel industry and the traveling public. ASTA’s history of travel industry advocacy traces back to its founding in 1931 when it launched with the mission to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. For more information, visit ASTA.org.
ASTA’s sister association, The National Association of Career Travel Agents, represents a professional community of independent travel agents ready to assist the traveling public.