Survey Results Indicate Impending Increase in Travel Agent Use

A survey of more than 1,250 leisure travelers shows that more travelers will seek the support of a travel advisor in the near future By: Valerie Chen
Survey respondents lauded travel agents for their in-depth destination knowledge. // © 2014 Thinkstock
Survey respondents lauded travel agents for their in-depth destination knowledge. // © 2014 Thinkstock

The Details

Travel marketing firm MMGY Global has released results from surveying 1,250 leisure travelers with an annual household income of $125,000 or more. To participate, respondents must have taken at least one multi-day leisure trip of 75 miles or more away from home during the previous year.

Why It Matters:
According to the survey, 20 percent of respondents currently rely on a travel professional to book their trips. However, growth is expected: In the next two years, 25 percent of respondents intend to utilize the services of a travel agent. Eighty percent of that group lauded agents’ vast knowledge of destinations and travel service providers; their ability to provide an extra level of service when things go wrong; and overall, a simplified experience of booking travel.

Fast Facts:
- Travelers with an annual household income of $250,000 or more took an average of 6.2 leisure trips in 2013, compared to the 4.7 vacations taken by those with an annual income of $125,000 to $249,999. The former plans to increase trips by a net nine percent, while the latter will likely increase by four percent.

- Desirable attributes when traveling include taking time to relax and unwind (75 percent); exploring new cities and attractions (64 percent); experiencing different cultures (59 percent); and enhancing relationships (54 percent).

- Twenty percent of respondents plan to take more vacations in the year ahead. The top three domestic destinations are the Hawaiian Neighbor Islands, national parks and Honolulu, while favored international destinations include Italy, England, France, the Caribbean (particularly U.S. Virgin Islands and the Bahamas), South America, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.

- Affluent travelers will shell out more cash for increased quality: 50 percent of respondents would pay more for the best accommodations at hotels and resorts, and approximately 30 percent would pay more for luxury cruise cabins or upgraded flight service.

- Sixty percent of affluent travelers frequently visit online travel agencies to gather information, but only half of that group actually uses the websites to book travel. Instead, 25 percent utilize travel service provider websites, and almost 20 percent picks up the phone and books directly with a travel service provider.

- Online ratings and reviews matter, principally individual reviews. In fact, 75 percent of affluent travelers will not even consider hotels or restaurants with a low overall rating.

What They Are Saying:
“Affluent travelers are willing to spend more on enhanced travel experiences,” said Steve Cohen, vice president of insights and research for MMGY Global. “This translates into a wonderful opportunity for travel and hospitality brands to engage — both online and in real time — with this attractive market segment. And ‘better’ and ‘personalized’ are key words to keep in mind when marketing travel services to this group.”