Published on Thursday, October 25, 2012
Consumers are turning back to the safe hands of high street travel agents, according to the latest figures from ABTA.
Its 2012 Consumer Travel Trends Survey has found a significant jump in bookings through agents over the last three years.
At the same time, it has recorded a dramatic drop in consumers booking DIY holidays direct with airlines and hotels.
The shift has been put down to confusion about the sheer extent of choice on the internet, coupled with increasing concerns among consumers about being properly protected when travelling.
The percentage of people booking a foreign holiday through a high street travel agent has grown from 17% in 2010, to 25% in 2011 and 27% in 2012.
Meanwhile, the number of consumers booking DIY holidays has fallen from 43% in 2011 to 27% in 2012.
Furthermore, the percentage of people booking a domestic holiday through a high street travel agent has almost doubled in a year, although the numbers are smaller.
Some 8% of people booked their UK domestic holiday through a high street agent in 2011, but this jumped to 13% in 2012.
The percentage of consumers booking DIY domestic holidays, meanwhile, has dropped from 51% in 2011 to 29% this year.
According to the survey, there has also been a surge of sentiment in favour of agents over the past 12 months.
The number of consumers that value their services climbed from 30% to 40%.
Surprisingly, the younger generation of consumer seem to be the biggest fans, with 45% of 15-24 year olds value the services of a travel agent, up from 30% in 2011.
More than half (52%) of this age group also believe that travel agents are good at finding what customers need, up from 36% in 2011.
Victoria Bacon, ABTA head of communications, said: "It is increasingly apparent that people are realising the benefits of what a travel agent can offer.
"The Internet has been fantastic in opening up choice but the survey shows that consumers value the help of a human being and the reassurance of dealing with someone face to face."
An ABTA spokesman said the shift was also down to increasing awareness of protection issues, prompted by the ash cloud disruption in 2010 followed by a series of travel company failures.
"Either through personal experience or watching it through the media, consumers are more aware of the reassurance and protection that comes from booking with an agent or a tour operator," he said.
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