Consumer Trends 2014: Agents lose ground on tours, all-inclusives


2014 Consumer TrendsAmong the findings in this year's Consumer Trends survey, the most notable shifts occurred within sectors whose booking procedures are often more complex than they are for reserving a nonresort hotel room, buying a plane ticket or renting a car. (Read more from the Consumer Trends survey here.) 

One of the biggest shifts was found within the escorted-tour sector. About 14% of the respondents who booked escorted tours said they had done so through either an online travel agency (OTA) or a travel-search site such as Kayak, compared with just 2% last year. Meanwhile, the percentage of escorted-tour customers who booked through travel agents fell to 11%, from 18%.

In addition, all-inclusive resorts appear to be improving on their efforts to get more guests to book direct. Almost half of those polled had booked their all-inclusive resort stay directly, up from 36% a year earlier, while the percentage of those who booked through either OTAs or big-box retailers such as Costco plunged to 12%, from 28%.

Meanwhile, the big-box retailers made up some of the ground they lost in all-inclusives sales by selling more packaged tours.

More travelers are apparently taking advantage of the discounts such retailers offer when grouping various travel legs, as the percentage of packaged-tour customers who booked through big-box retailers tripled from a year earlier, to 15%.

The results lend credence to at least a couple of recent moves by larger companies looking to boost their exposure to both the all-inclusive resort sector and big-box travel bookings.

Marriott International in July nabbed a major all-inclusive resorts player when the Bahamas' Atlantis Paradise Island agreed to become part of the hotelier's Autograph Collection in September.

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart boosted its travel-booking exposure when its Sam's Club division in June launched a travel booking service with online travel wholesaler Tourico Holidays.

As for less complex forms of travel booking, suppliers and OTAs collectively boosted their distribution share of nonresort hotel bookings, while suppliers took some share from OTAs when it came to both airline tickets and car rentals.

Specifically, suppliers and OTAs accounted for 82% of bookings, up from 78% a year earlier. As for airline bookings, suppliers boosted their distribution share by 3 percentage points, to 75%, while OTAs dropped 5 points, to 11%.

Travel agent share of airline bookings rose a percentage point, to 6%, while travel search sites accounted for 5% of air bookings, up from 3% a year earlier.

Follow Danny King on Twitter @dktravelweekly

To read the Consumer Trends report, click here


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