Return of the travel agent: 30% of Australians book their trip through a third party

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The use of travel agents is seeing a resurgence as Australian travelers try to protect themselves from disruptions from COVID-19, according to new research from Finder.

A nationally representative survey of 1,000 respondents found that one in five Australians (21%) are more likely to book travel through a travel agent due to the pandemic.

The admin level required to travel is now too high for 8%.

Fear of a trip being canceled (7%) and uncertainty around travel requirements (6%) are also reasons Australians are more likely to book through an agent.

Nearly 1 in 10 people (9%) already used a travel agency before the pandemic.

Angus Kidman, travel expert at Finder, says booking travel isn’t as easy as it used to be and the days of booking a last-minute flight and skipping customs are long gone.

“Travel has changed dramatically since the pandemic, and the amount of research required before booking a trip can seem overwhelming.

“Many travelers want to hand over this responsibility to a travel professional – a service that has begun to disappear in the age of the internet.”

Finder research found that 1 in 2 Australians (51%) had travel plans in 2022.

Australians with domestic (24%) and international (15%) travel plans are concerned that new variants of COVID-19 will impact their travel.

“Even once you’ve booked a trip, the stress doesn’t stop once you’ve landed at your destination.

“Rules and regulations are constantly changing – there is a lot of information circulating online about travel in and out of Australia.

“While using a travel agent or third party may cost a little more, it can save you a lot of time and effort on the phone with airlines, hotels and tour operators.”

According to the Federation of Australian Travel Agents (AFTA), prior to COVID-19, the travel industry grew at 11% annually and has maintained 7.25% growth for the past 5 years.

In 2018-19, Australians spent over $46 billion on international travel, 70% of which was booked through Australian travel agents.

“There are so many new protocols, including vaccinations and quarantine requirements that vary by country and change regularly – having someone to take care of all those changes at the last minute can relieve the stress.

“If you decide to book through a travel agent or a third party, the policies and terms and conditions of both the agent and the travel supplier will apply, so it’s a must to check both.

“If you are concerned about traveling during COVID-19 and your trip is canceled due to border closures, speak to your agent about your options before booking.

“Remember that travel insurance remains a must. Popular destinations like Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore have mandated travel insurance that covers COVID-related medical expenses.”

Millennials (30%) are the most likely to book through a travel agent these days, compared to 13% of baby boomers.

Has the pandemic made you more likely to book travel through a travel agent?
No, I prefer to book it myself 38%
I don’t travel 20%
I was already using a travel agency before the pandemic 9%
Yeah, there’s too much administration around travel now 8%
Yes, I don’t want to book a trip and have it canceled seven%
No, it’s too complicated seven%
Yes, I don’t know what the travel requirements are 6%
I would like but it’s too expensive 6%
Source: Finder survey of 1,000 respondents, January 2022

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