Travel Agents Adapting To Changing Industry Landscape

American Express Travel Survey outlines how travel agents are benefitting from an ever-changing market By: Valerie Chen
Survey results show that the vast amount of information online drives some consumers to seek help from travel agents. // © 2014 Thinkstock
Survey results show that the vast amount of information online drives some consumers to seek help from travel agents. // © 2014 Thinkstock

The Details

American Express Travel

Through a survey of travel counselors within its U.S. Representative Agency Network, American Express Travel explored trends in advisor-client relationships, customer service and buying behavior. Results were released during the American Express Travel Retail Network Learning Forum and National Summit held in Orlando, Fla. 

Why It Matters:
The travel booking landscape is incontestably changing, largely due to the evolution of fully automated online systems and a surplus of easily accessible information. But survey results show that this can work to a travel counselor’s advantage: 60 percent of counselors say clients feel overwhelmed by the Internet’s excess, hence the desire to hire a counselor for trip personalization. To further attest to how counselors have adapted to the dynamic industry, nearly half of these counselors actually encourage clients to conduct research as it can facilitate planning. 

Fast Facts:
- Seventy-four percent of travel counselors say their clients want the “whole package,” meaning to shape the trips completely, while 60 percent are asked for guidance in finding the best destination and experience, and 53 percent are hired by clients who have done the research but need help with uncovering deals.  

- Cost and savings tend to be the leading consideration when deciding on travel (44 percent), but the excitement to take trips and have memorable experiences trails close behind at 40 percent.

- More than half report an increase of customer spending in the following categories: accommodations (59 percent), room/cabin upgrades (59 percent) and tours/excursions (51 percent).

- Almost all of those surveyed are either gaining repeat clients (56 percent) or maintain their number of repeat clients (40 percent).

- Other survey takeaways include that the most impactful developments in travel include increased accessibility to emerging destinations, such as Iceland, Croatia and Vietnam (46 percent); airline mergers (36 percent); global expansion of hotel brands (4 percent) and introduction of new long-haul aircraft (4 percent).

What They Are Saying:
“Collaboration makes a world of difference in shaping the travel experience with customers," said Yana Gutierrez, vice president of strategic partnerships and representative travel network for American Express Travel. "Technology and human sensibility go hand-in-hand to help turn a multitude of information and options into memorable trips. We are seeing the enthusiasm in which our Representative Network travel counselors are embracing the changes of a dynamic industry to offer their customers the greatest value for every trip.”