Agent survey: Destination bookings hold steady By Jorge Sidron / October 08, 2003 Share 1 -- MEXICO CITY -- A majority of travel agents who sell Mexico said business to the destination is on par with or ahead of last year, according to a survey conducted by Travel Weekly. The survey of 400 travel agents was conducted online among subscribers to Travel Weekly's Mexico E-Letter and agents from Northstar Travel Media's (Travel Weekly's parent) database.The findings were presented at the second annual Travel Weekly Mexico Leadership Forum, held earlier this month in Mexico City.Fifty-four percent of agents queried said bookings to Mexico were about the same as this time last year, 24% of agents reported that business was better and 22% said business was worse. The agents who forecast an increase in business said bookings could be up by as much as 24%.The majority of agents said they were either very or extremely influential in their clients' booking decisions, with 58% of respondents saying they were extremely influential in choosing packages and 42% saying they were extremely influential in hotel selection. Agents said they had the least influence on planning activities and booking car rentals.On the subject of niche markets, 81% of respondents said economical/value travel represented good selling opportunities. Almost as large a sampling -- 77% -- cited family travel, while 76% said weddings and honeymoons. Less popular niche markets were upscale travel/spa vacations (cited by 36%), adventure travel (27%) and golf (24%).Asked to rank other Mexican destinations in terms of popularity among their clients, 74% of agents said Cancun and Cozumel were the most popular destinations, 42% said Puerto Vallarta was very popular and 34% said Los Cabos was popular. The least popular Mexican destinations were Mazatlan, Acapulco and Mexico City.Asked to name destinations or types of travel that their clients preferred to Mexico, 55% of agents said cruising, half of the agents mentioned Hawaii, 47% said Las Vegas and 43% said the Caribbean.Twenty percent of agents said their customers also preferred Florida, 15% said Europe, 13% said California, 10% said the Bahamas and 3% said Asia.Among the reasons why clients preferred cruising and other destinations to Mexico, 60% of agents said their clients wanted more than just sun and sand, 29% said Mexico offered less value for the money and 11% said Mexico was too far away or too difficult to get to.Thirty-four percent of agents said they see a growing interest among customers for Mexican destinations that offered more than beaches, while 44% said the beach was still king.As to how often they searched the Internet when making Mexico bookings, 49% of agents said they searched the Web less than 25% of the time. Only 9% said they searched the Internet for all Mexico bookings.To contact reporter Jorge Sidron, send e-mail to email@example.com.