ASTA study examines trends in travel agency business


Whereas some travel agencies were able to weather the past year unscathed, the majority of agencies showed large drops in revenue and transactions, according to the recently-released ASTA Travel Agency Business Trends survey. The survey also shows that while most leisure agencies are expecting to recover in early 2010, corporate agencies are not expecting a recovery until the spring of 2010 or later.

“Every agency executive, like me, who wants to benchmark revenue and transactions against other agencies or who wants to know the changes other agencies are considering to succeed, should read this report. It is a great tool for anyone planning for the future,” said Chris Russo, ASTA president and chair.

Among the survey’s findings were:

• When comparing the first half of 2009 to the same time period in 2008, 78.2 percent of agencies saw a decrease in revenue, while 75.2 percent saw a decrease in transactions.

• 63.6 percent of agencies saw a decrease in the number of clients when comparing the first half of 2009 to the first half of 2008. Not surprisingly, corporate agency respondents have seen greater decreases in revenue.

• 76 percent of respondents cut “operating costs” and 54 percent “took less pay” in response to the economy.

• More than half of all responding agencies are planning no changes in regards to employees. A larger percentage of corporate agencies are considering changes in regards to employees.

ASTA conducted the study to assist leisure and corporate agencies in planning for the future, as well as benchmarking their first half 2009 sales performance. The report looks at changes agencies made to weather the past year, as well as changes planned for the future. Agencies were asked specifically about changes in employment and independent contractor usage to gauge how employment has been affected by the slowdown.

The ASTA Research Family is comprised of a representative sample of ASTA member travel agency owners and managers. The report indicates a 95 percent confidence with an error rate +/- 4.8 percent.

Premium members receive ASTA’s Travel Agency Benchmarking reports as part of their membership. ASTA Travel Agent members may purchase the entire report for US$99; ASTA Allied members pay US$199. Non-members pay US$299. For additional information, please contact or visit the research page on .


ASTA’s (American Society of Travel Agents) mission is to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge, and the enhancement of professionalism. ASTA seeks a retail travel marketplace that is profitable, growing, and a rewarding place to work, invest, and do business.