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BizReport : : October 26, 2012

Rise in UK consumers turning to high street travel agents for advice

New research released by the Association of British Travel Agents shows consumers in the UK increasingly value the services of high street travel agents, despite the wide variety of choice and information to be found online.

by Helen Leggatt

abta_logo.gifSomewhat self-serving research has been released by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), a UK-based travel agents association. Their 2012 Consumer Travel Trends Survey, involving 2,008 adult UK consumers, found that the number of people booking a holiday abroad through a travel agent on the high street has risen, despite the plethora of online options.

In 2010, 17% of people booked a trip abroad via a high street travel agent, rising to 25% in 2011 and 27% in 2012. Even holidays taken within the UK are increasingly being booked through a high street outlet - 13% in 2012 compared to 8% the previous year.

At the same time, consumer sentiment towards travel agents has become more positive rising from 30% to 40% in the last year, according to ABTA's survey.

Why, with the plethora of holiday choice and booking options online, are people increasingly turning to personal consultations with a travel agent? Predictably, ABTA says it's because "consumers value the help of a human being and the reassurance of dealing with someone face to face".

Their research appears to show this to be true. Even the Internet generation, those ages 15-24, increasingly value the services of a high street travel agent. This year, almost half (45%) said they valued their help and advice, up from 30% in 2011.

Furthermore, 52% of this younger generation believes travel agents are good at finding what customers need, up from 36% in 2011.

Has the choice consumers are confronted with online become too bewildering to sift without the help of a professional? Perhaps. But it's worth noting that while the survey highlights that more people value high street travel agents, just 27% went on to book through one. So, while agents may be being consulted by more people, and their advice valued, many continue to book online.

Tags: online travel, OTA, travel agency, travel market, travel trends, UK

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  • Your final paragraph analyses the situation perfectly in our experience. It is very true that the customer values the advice and expertise provided by destination experts such as travel agents and tour operators. They are quite happy however to get all the advice and then book online in the often mistaken understanding that they are getting a better deal. This remains an important challenge for travel agents - how to ensure that they communicate the value that they bring such that they retain the leads that they have nurtured.



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