ASTA: Use of travel agents is up, as is their image

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travel agentA new ASTA study finds that an increasing number of travelers are using travel agents, and that agents make vacations better.

The number of travelers who use agents is still relatively small at 13%, but up from 11% in 2010, according to the study titled “Value of Travel Agents.”

Of leisure travelers who booked with an agent, 59% of millennials, 53% of Generation X and 58% of baby boomers indicated that vacations planned with travel agents were better than those organized without their assistance.

Those who used agents traveled more often, taking 4.7 trips in the past year versus 3.6 trips for those who didn’t use an agent.

The study asked travelers why they didn’t use travel agents. The biggest reason was control.

Eighty-one percent of leisure travelers who did not book with agents did their own research, 79% liked organizing and 72% thought they can do better themselves. Sixty-five percent said that they thought the best deals were available online.

Fifty-seven percent said that they never thought about using an agent.

Travelers who used agents cited the convenience of having an expert do the work (76%) and depending on someone with knowledge of suppliers and destinations (75%).

The study found that 16% of business travelers used travel agents. Like leisure travelers, business travelers who booked with agents traveled more often — 5.8 trips in the last year versus 4.1 trips for those who book on their own.

Control, again, was a big reason for not using an agent; 64% of those who didn't use an agent liked doing their own organizing and 60% liked doing their own research. Forty-two percent never thought of using an agent.

Thirty-eight percent didn’t have the option of using a travel agent; their company policy did not allow the use of a travel agent.

Carnival Cruise Lines sponsored the study. MMGY Global conducted it.

The survey results were based on responses from 8,338 leisure and 3,243 business travelers who had been on at least one trip requiring overnight accommodations during the past 12 months.

All respondents were screened to ensure they had an annual household income of more than $50,000, according to MMGY Global.

Photo of travel agent courtesy of Shutterstock.com. 

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