Published on Friday, February 22, 2008

Consumers doubt agents provide good value

Only a quarter of holidaymakers believe travel agents offer good value for money.

And 42% “actively disagreed” that agents offer the best deal, according to the results of a poll by consumer organisation Holiday Which?

Almost half (46%) who arranged their own holiday themselves preferred the DIY route because they wanted to get the best deal or believed it was cheaper to arrange it themselves.

The survey of almost 3,000 adults carried out last September and October also found that consumers are unsure of travel agents’ impartiality due to the big chains being linked to major tour operators.

Around one in five (22%) thought that agents in general do not give honest, trustworthy advice, and only 38% believing that their advice is independent.

Of those who booked with an agent, 70% believed they received independent advice and nine out of ten said they were satisfied with the way staff dealt with their booking, including any queries. The same proportion said they would recommend the agent they used to a friend who wanted to take a similar holiday.

People who used an agent were less likely to shop around, the research found. The most visited agents were the multiple chains – Thomas Cook, followed by Thomson, the Going Places and First Choice/Holiday Hypermarket.

“The muscle of these big chains may be shrinking, but they are still a powerful force between them they accounted for 58% of the bookings made with agents in our survey,” Holiday Which? said. 

The research also found that half of those who had booked a holiday abroad within the last 12 months had arranged everything themselves without using an agent.

Slightly fewer (44%) used an agent to book at least part of their holiday.

More than two-fifths used the internet to research before booking, compared to 29% who phone or visited a travel agency to do the same. Most of those who did visit only did so to pick up brochures.

Only 14% of those surveyed asked friends and family for holiday advice and just 13% read a guidebook.

Fewer than half (47%) of people who had contact with an agent prior to booking actually made their reservation with the agent, although this figure rose to 60% among those aged over 65.

Good news for agents is that the majority of people who used one to book were positive about their experience – 62% thought that the agent had tried to sell them the holiday most suited to them and 81% agreed that they got honest, trustworthy advice.

But one in five (18%) didn’t agree that the agent tried to sell them the most suitable holiday.

by Phil Davies

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  • well done ASTA

    Sherry, I seen the ASTA headline and was pleased someone took the time to find the postive angle and used it wisely. Thank you on behalf of travel agents everywhere!

    By Doreen McKenzie, Wednesday, February 27, 2008

  • Please enlighten me...

    Although I am delighted to learn that Allan Vavra saved over $1000, I am not quite sure of his point. Is he saying that his agent did a good job and obtained him a consol. fare, or that his agent couldn't help because he could only supply normal airline fares with no child discount (really?) and he had to go to a consolidator?

    By Richard English, Tuesday, February 26, 2008

  • Culpa Mea

    I plead guilty as accused, Doreen. But it was a deliberate action to speak of "she" and not "he" when I was referring to a customer. Not because women are any more likely to be wrong than men, but simply because there are far more women shoppers than men shoppers - and I had to choose a sex for the pronoun. In spite of its popularity, I eschew the use of "they" as a non-gender-specific pronoun. On reflection, though, I might have done better to have recast the sentence!

    By Richard English, Tuesday, February 26, 2008

  • 2 adults 2 kids savings $1000

    Since the airlines do not allow child discounts from the US to Europe my consolidator fares saved the family over 1000USD

    By Allan Vavra, Tuesday, February 26, 2008

  • Misguided notions about Agents

    If consumers are so confident that they can do all their own research why go to an agency to pick up brochures? I think a relationship with an agent can only be a successful one if the traveler/consumer/client has shared in all honesty what their interests were, as the agent than can match them to the right type of travel experience. The role of an agent is not to send clients on an unwanted vacation, but to make the desired vacation as enjoyable as possible.

    By Usha Rao, Tuesday, February 26, 2008

  • ASTA Positive Angle - i

    For the record, ASTA found a positive angle on this survey in a news brief sent out to member agents worldwide: "Survey: 90% of travelers who booked through agent satisfied" and continued with "A survey of nearly 3,000 adults conducted last fall by Holiday Which, a consumer organization, found mixed opinions and perceptions about travel agents. While the overwhelming majority of travelers who booked with an agent said they were satisfied and would recommend the agent to a friend, only a quarter of travelers said they believe agents offer a good value for the price". While I actually had to look for the "good" news within the article itself - ASTA found a nice way to accentuate the positive!

    By Sherry Viani, Tuesday, February 26, 2008

  • headline news incorrect

    Tut, tut Richard - 'she is wrong!' a lot of men are wrong as well!! But I agree wholeheartly with your comments - sadly the negatives of a survey like this always make the headlines, not the positives. And besides a survey of multiple holiday shops is not representative of the retail travel industry - it should also include independantly owned shops!!

    By Doreen McKenzie, Friday, February 22, 2008

  • The customer is always right?

    Quote: "...Only a quarter of holidaymakers believe travel agents offer good value for money. And 42% "actively disagreed" that agents offer the best deal..." And how, one would venture to ask, would the average customer have the slightest idea about the value offered by travel agents? Remember, these are the same customers who believe that bottled water, costing over &#pound;5 per gallon, is better value than the water that comes out of taps for next to nothing. Most customers are very ignorant about these kinds of things and are, in this sense wrong. But sadly, wrong or not, customers are swayed by their uninformed, inaccurate and prejudiced beliefs, and salespeople should never forget this. The customer is always right? Sadly yes - even when she's wrong!

    By Richard English, Friday, February 22, 2008

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