Commerce Dept. study: Agents still top choice

Although many travelers book directly with airlines and hotels or on the Internet, the majority still prefer to use travel agents, according to statistics released by the Commerce Dept.s Office of Travel and Tour Industries.

Statistics released by the U.S. Commerce Dept.s Office of Travel and Tourism Industries show leisure and business travelers typically choose to book with travel agents over other options.

In its report on U.S. Resident Traveler Characteristics (2004), the office found 43% of all U.S. travelers booked air with a travel agent, while 21% booked over the Internet and 19% directly with the airline.

Similarly, 43% of leisure travelers booked with travel agents, 23% on the Internet and 21% directly with the airline. Only 14% of business travelers booked air on line, while 41% booked with a travel agent and 15% booked directly with the airline.

When it comes to getting travel information, 40% went to a travel agent and 33% went to the Internet. Other information sources were airlines (24%), friends and relatives (16%), company travel departments (8%), travel guides (5%), tour companies (5%), newspapers/magazines (2%) and state/ city travel offices (2%).

Sixteen percent booked accommodations through travel agents, while 10% booked directly with the hotel or motel.

The report found 41% travel alone, 29% travel with their spouse and 25% travel with family or relatives.

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