Consumers who use travel agents reported that agents save them an average of $452 per trip and four hours in travel planning, according to preliminary results of a study released by ASTA on Monday.

The independent study, “Best of Both Worlds: Quantifying How Travel Agents Save Consumers Time and Money,” was funded by Carnival Corp. and conducted by market research firm TNS Global. The full report will be made available by ASTA by May 30, but the association released some initial findings on Monday.

In the past 12 months, 47% of consumers polled booked travel through supplier websites, followed by 25% on online travel agencies and 23% through travel agents — the largest share for travel agents in the past three years.

This is ASTA’s third consumer study in three years, all of which were sponsored by Carnival but with a slightly different focus. Each time, the same question about how consumers book travel was asked. In 2015, 15% said they used an agent. In 2014, 13% said they used an agent.

When looking back on their past travel experiences, of those who used travel agents, 63% said using an agent makes their overall trip experience better; 69% reported that agents save them time in planning and booking; 66% said agents help them avoid costly mistakes; and 64% say agents find the better deals.

The key reason consumers cited for not using a travel agent was, simply, “I want to do it myself.”

As for consumers who have not used an agent in the past 12 months, 47% said that if an agent could save them money, they would consider it, followed closely by an agent’s ability to find better deals than online websites and their ability to help the consumer avoid mistakes.

The survey was conducted online by global market research firm TNS in early April. TNS reached out to 14,000 U.S. households and achieved a sample size of 3,000 consumers to provide the data. Travelers were adults ages 18 and older with a household income of at least $50,000 who had traveled overnight and stayed in paid accommodations for leisure travel purposes in the past 12 months.

“At this point, consumers have tried it all. They’ve booked online, they’ve gone direct, and they’ve used a travel agent. This study dispels the myth that booking direct with suppliers or spending hours online yourself gets you a better deal, or gives you a happier travel experience,” ASTA CEO Zane Kerby said in a statement.


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