Travel Agents Still Dominate Cruise and Tour Sales Over OTAs

Phocuswright's U.S. Online Travel Overview Seventeenth Edition reports significant growth for agent sales of cruise and tour By: Valerie Chen
Advisors are the top sellers of cruise vacations. // © 2018 Getty Images
Advisors are the top sellers of cruise vacations. // © 2018 Getty Images

Phocuswright’s recently published U.S. Online Travel Overview Seventeenth Edition shares good news: Sales of traditional tours and packages via travel agents increased by 4 percent in 2017 to roughly $9 billion, representing 68 percent of total sales. Meanwhile, cruises sold by agents saw a 5 percent increase, outpacing the overall travel market to reach $11.5 billion. (Note: Phocuswright is owned by the same parent company as TravelAge West.)

Why It Matters:
Though online travel agencies and supplier websites may have taken the lead for some sales, cruise and tour — two sectors that are leisure-only and often warrant the personal touch of an advisor — are clearly a sweet spot for agents. In fact, two-thirds of cruise sales are by travel agents, a figure that is not expected to wane through 2021.

Fast Facts:
- At the end of 2017, more than half (52 percent) of all U.S. travel was booked online via travel agencies and travel management companies, phone and walk-up.

- When considering OTA dynamic packaging, such as Expedia bundles, travel agency share comprises 46 percent of all packages sold in the U.S. both online and offline.

- Agency share of combined traditional vacation package and cruise sales is predicted to grow from 67 percent in 2017 to 69 percent in 2021.

The Details:

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