ALEXANDRIA, VA – New research from The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) proves that travel agents save consumers time and money. Consumers report that travel agents save them an average $452 per trip, and four hours in travel planning. Perhaps most importantly, consumers said that agents help them avoid costly mistakes.
The independent study, “Best of Both Worlds: Quantifying How Travel Agents Save Consumers Time and Money,” was funded by Carnival Corporation and conducted by market research firm TNS Global. Detailed findings of the final version of the survey will be available on ASTA.org by May 30.
“We couldn’t hold back the good news, and that is that travel agent usage is at its highest level since we began commissioning independent consumer research three years ago. 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. Consumers told TNS Global that if you want a better travel experience, use an agent,” said ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby.
ASTA is releasing the results in honor of National Travel and Tourism Week May 1-7, with a special focus on Travel Agent Appreciation Day, Wednesday May 4. “We want to say ‘thank you’ to our members all over the globe for all you do every day to advise and protect your customers,” Kerby said. In addition, ASTA’s sister brand, the National Association of Career Travel Agents (NACTA), is declaring the month of May “National Travel Consultant Month.” Congratulations to all NACTA members. More information on that can be found on NACTA.org.
Key preliminary findings in the ASTA survey include:
- In the past 12 months, nearly half of consumers polled (47%) booked travel through supplier websites, followed by 25% on online travel agency websites, and 23% through travel agents. That 23% was the highest share in the past three years.
- When looking back on their past travel experiences, almost two-thirds (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 who haven’t used an agent in the past 12 months say they went that route: “I want to do it myself.”
- Travel agents lead other booking channels in selling river cruises, and tie online suppliers for selling ocean cruises and tour packages. Agents also scored well for selling all-inclusive resorts and travel insurance, nearly tying with online suppliers.
- The top reason cited by consumers who have not used an agent in the past 12 months of why they would consider it is if the agent can save them money (47%), followed closely by if the agent can find better deals than online websites and if the travel agent can help the consumer avoid mistakes.