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Friday, 02 May 2014 13:01

ASTA Survey Results

Written by  Douglas Cooke

Doug
ASTA has released the findings of two surveys they’ve conducted. They surveyed 8,300 consumers to gauge their perceived value of travel agents. They also reported on the evolution of agent-supplier booking patterns. We felt the results would be of interest to both our agent and supplier readers.

Value of Travel Agents
The objective of this study was to measure the value of the travel agency channel and whether working with travel agents enhances the travel experience. The results confirmed just that, and more. The study discovered that over half of Millennial ( 59%), Xer (53%) and Boomer (58%) leisure travelers who used travel agents believe that vacations planned with agents were better than those organized without. Not surprisingly, consumers that use an agent travel more (average 4.7 trips) than consumers that don’t use a travel agent (average 3.6 trips). The study found that 13 percent of U.S. travelers used a traditional travel agent in the past year, which is up from 11 percent a few years ago. Of the leisure travelers who did not use travel agents in the past 12 months, 41 percent indicated they were open to using one in the future.
When asked why they use a travel agent, the two most common reasons were: convenience of using an expert for planning, and their knowledge of destinations and suppliers to make best recommendations.

Supplier-Travel Agent Report
This study looked at trends in the supplier-travel agent relationship, motivation for choosing a supplier at point-of-sale, and favored agent booking channels by segment. Among the key findings: the use of websites for bookings, primarily supplier-directs sites, continues to grow. ASTA has been tracking how travel agent members book products for eight years for the air, hotel, cruise, tour, and car rental segments. Changes indicate a movement towards booking on supplier websites. The shift has been stronger for the segments where GDS bookings are traditionally low; cruise and tour.
Despite the growth in website bookings, it is interesting that the phone remains the dominant means of communication for leisure bookings, with 63% of agents using the phone to book international vacations.
When asked how they selected a supplier, reputation was cited as most important, followed by ease of booking, support of agents, overrides and knowledge of product.
Changes in booking patterns included a 124% growth in the use of air consolidator and other websites for booking airfares and a 233% growth in bookings on cruise line websites. When it comes to booking a tour, 38% of respondents book online compared to 35% that prefer 800 numbers. Of interest to suppliers, when it comes to education, 46% of agents prefer online training while 26% prefer in-person sales calls.
Complete results of these studies are available by calling 800.ASK.ASTA  or visiting www.asta.org

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