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Travel agents save consumers an average of $452 per trip and four hours in travel planning, according to a new commissioned independent study from the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). “Best of Both Worlds: Quantifying How Travel Agents Save Consumers Time and Money,” funded by Carnival Corporation & Plc and conducted by market research firm TNS Global, features the insights of more than 3,000 respondents.
Other key findings include that in the last year, 23 percent of consumers said they booked travel through agents — the highest share in the past three years. When looking at past travel experiences, 63 percent of respondents said that using an agent makes their overall trip experience better; 69 percent reported that agents save them time in planning and booking; 66 percent said agents help them avoid costly mistakes; and 64 percent said agents find the better deals.
“In this complex ecosystem, people see it pays to use an agent,” said Zane Kerby, president and CEO of ASTA.
According to the study, consumers who haven’t used an agent in the past 12 months said they went that route because they wanted to book the travel themselves. However, 47 percent of those people disclosed that they would consider using an agent if he or she can save them money. Many also said they would use an agent if he or she can find better deals than online websites and help the consumer avoid mistakes.
Kerby noted his personal excitement over the study’s ability to slice the data into four particular categories: millennials, Gen Xers, baby boomers and matures. This segmentation, Kirby says, helps ASTA and the agent community understand what kinds of travel each group is performing and undertaking, and then what characteristics are indicative of this group.
“Two things stick out,” Kerby said. “Travel agent usage rises with income across all four categories of groups. The more money people make, the more likely they are to use the services of an agent. The other thing is, there’s a lot of travel going on in all four age categories, [showing] there is room for agents to grow their business.”
Kevin Wang, research director for ASTA, echoed this statement during a press conference held on June 13.
“Travel agent users tend to have more travel budget,” Wang said. “They’re going to agents to plan for more complex trips, international trips or places they haven’t been, and they’ve realized an agent can enhance their experience, avoid mistakes and save them time and money.”
Findings also show that millennials are leading the way in both travel agency usage and in the likelihood to recommend an agent, which is great news for agents coming into the industry, Kerby pointed out.
“The really good news is that people who come into this business are going to find customers in this business already, who are young and going to stay with them for years,” he said.