Study Says Travel Agents Must Demonstrate Their ROI

Expert advice, time saving and deals are among core values of travel agents By: Valerie Chen
Travelers appreciate the human interaction of working with an agent. // © 2016 iStock
Travelers appreciate the human interaction of working with an agent. // © 2016 iStock

The Details

Earlier this month, digital creative agency Blitz released a new report, “Targeting Moments of Need in the New Travel Landscape,” which highlights where travel agents stand in today’s technology-driven world, in addition to covering topics such as travel inspiration and experiences.

Why It Matters:
It’s no surprise that agents have to fight to prove their return on investment in a competitive market of OTAs and, more recently, apps that combine artificial intelligence (AI) and human expertise, such as Lola, a Virtuoso member. However, according to Blitz, 39 percent of travelers still seek personalized recommendations to make trip-planning more enjoyable, and another 31 percent want those recommendations to come from an actual person. Also, more than half of participants say they have used an agent in the past because of expert advice, time saving and deals — core values for agents looking to demonstrate their worth.

Fast Facts:
- 78 percent of respondents say they enjoy the research and planning process of a trip.

- At the same time, 72 percent of respondents say they feel overwhelmed or sometimes feel overwhelmed when planning a trip.

- Trends that will increase demand for travel agents in the near future are OTAS that present choice overload rather than solutions; the potential of better recommendations with the help of big data and AI; “the ongoing premium placed on ‘authenticity;’” and a new generation of travelers.

- When booking, 79 percent of respondents value customization and ease.

- Out of the respondents who have not used a travel agent, 30 percent didn’t do so because they enjoyed the planning process; 25 percent said the services were too expensive; and 21 percent said, “I trust myself more.”