The popularity of travel agents on the rise again

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Travel counselors continue to prove their worth as more and more consumers use them to help and book vacations, recent study shows, strongly valuing their expertise for international travel, hotels and tour packages.

According to MMGY Global’s annual “Portrait of the American Traveler”, 13% of all vacations were “assisted by traditional travel agents” last year, up from 8% in 2018. Additionally, 16% of respondents to the survey reported having used a traditional travel agent for at least one stay in the past 12 months, up from 14% in the previous survey.

Similarly, 19% of consumers say they plan to use the services of a traditional travel agent in the next two years, up from 16% in 2018. (Response to future use of a travel agent trips peaked at 25% in 2016.)

According to the MMGY Global Travel Intelligence Group report, consumers continue to see the benefit of using agents for international travel, with 68% of consumers who have used an agent in the past 12 months. have made for trips abroad. This is an increase from 52% last year, reversing the share of domestic travel compared to international travel. In the 2018 study, 71% of trips assisted by travel agents were national vacations, up from just 64% this year.

They also value agents the most for helping them book vacation / tour packages and accommodations – with 80% and 78%, respectively, saying they will do so in the next two years. Seventy percent of consumers who say they will use an agent in the next two years say they will use it for their cruise reservation.

What do consumers like about agents?
Consumers who have used an agent in the past 12 months told MMGY that they value travel counselors the most for their knowledge of destinations and their ability to provide an extra level of service if something goes wrong (85 %) and their ability to take the hassle out. on travel reservations (84%).

Clearly, the past few years of horrific airport delays, hurricanes and other travel disruptions have increased the focus on how advisers are there for their clients when the going goes wrong. Responses citing “the ability to provide an extra level of service when the going goes wrong” jumped 13 percentage points in this year’s MMGY report, the number one reason for using a traditional travel agent.

Tied for third is an agent’s knowledge of travel service providers in a destination and recommendations that “ensure high quality travel experiences” (81%).

Recommendations for high-quality experiences jumped 10 percentage points in this year’s survey, the second-largest increase of all the reasons tracked.

Further down the list of reasons travelers love Advisors, ‘getting access to experiences I can’t get on my own’ has jumped nine percentage points from 65% to 74% this year, the third largest increase in reasons for using an agent.

The love of Millennials continues
Over the past few years, MMGY has documented the growing affection Millennials have for travel counselors. According to this year’s report, 24% of them said they had used a traditional agent for vacations in the past 12 months, compared to 12% of baby boomers and 10% of Gen X.

This love is expected to continue, as 24% of Millennials say they will use a traditional travel agent in the next two years, compared to 16% of Baby Boomers and 15% of Gen X. ‘use of traditional agents by different age groups over the next two years, according to MMGY.

For Millennials, the top three vacation categories are package tours (85%), accommodation (83%) and plane tickets (82%). For baby boomers, its accommodation (77%), its circuits (76%) and its air (63%). But for Generation Xers, its tours (76%), its accommodation (66%) and its cruises (65%).

Interestingly, Millennials seem to seek traditional agents a lot more for destination advice than their older peers. Some 72% said they would ask agents for help choosing a destination, compared to just 43% for Gen Xers and 37% for Baby Boomers.

The majority (56%) of millennial vacations “assisted” by a traditional travel agent in the past 12 months were national, while the majority of vacations attended by a baby boomer agent (63%) were international . Similar behaviors were revealed when MMGY asked different age groups what type of vacation was “booked” by an agent.

For baby boomers, 72% were international and only 40% were national. For Millennials, 77% have booked a national vacation with an agent, compared to 67% saying they have booked at least one international vacation in the past 12 months.

Millennials largely appreciate the same areas of expertise and customer service as their peers, although baby boomers most appreciate an agent’s ability to help out when something goes wrong (91%), compared to 85% for millennials and 80% for the Xers.

There were, however, stark differences in the categories where travel agents can take the stress out of travel planning. For example, 75% of Millennials said that travel agents are busy researching vacations because it “takes too long”, compared to just 57% of Baby Boomers and 55% of Gen X. millennials also believe agents can get better prices for a full vacation than they can get on their own (80%), compared to millennials (67%) and baby boomers (66%). Millennials (76%) also like traditional travel agents for helping them find ‘what’s new / new’, compared to 68% of Gen Xers and just 60% of Baby Boomers.


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