ASTA profile: Members are older, profitable

ASTA's latest agency profile, a periodic report on the demographics of ASTA's membership, confirms that travel agents are alive and well and aging gracefully, often at home.

Based on responses from a representative sample of agency owner/managers, ASTA said the biggest age category last year was the 55-to-64 group, claiming nearly 40% of members, up from 35% in 2004. Those over the age of 65 increased to 19% of the total, up two points.

Members who are 44 and younger accounted for just under 12% of the total, down from 14% in 2004, ASTA said.

The majority of agencies, about 75%, still maintain brick-and-mortar locations, but that's down from nearly 84% in 2002. During the same period, the percentage working from home rose from 7.3% to 17.4%.

As always, small agencies outnumber large ones, as 53% of ASTA members reported sales of less than $2 million and fewer than 9% reported sales exceeding $10 million. In the last few years, however, ASTA said there's been a shift in the proportion of larger members: Those with sales volumes of $5 million or more accounted for 18.8% of members last year, up from 6% in 2000.

Business mix

ASTA's data also confirm the ongoing change in the agency business mix. ASTA projected that tours in 2007 would mark the single largest sales category for the third consecutive year, at 31%, while cruises would come to 26%, up from 17% in 2000. Air sales are projected to slip to 25% of overall agency sales, down from 56% in 2000, and hotel bookings are projected to account for 8%, down from 15% in 2000.

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