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Published on Thursday, October 25, 2012

High street agents are back in favour

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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  • Total Rubbish

    How can ABTA make such false claims? Where is the year on year factual comparison? Ye high street will make a resurgence in a world of ever declining high street presence, of course it has to bottom out but dont be fooled in to thinking somehow the "net" is in decline because its only in its infancy. Dont believe me? Dont wish to print this? Keep it 10 years and lets see what transpires? Open to wagers for any takers?

    By Kenny Picken, Monday, April 8, 2019

  • Richard is so right

    Richard English nails it. What a refreshing change from the whingers blaming everything else for their woes.

    By Andrew Thompson, Tuesday, October 30, 2012

  • The importance of service

    Travel agents are surviving and flourishing against all the odds because they are providing the one quality that is more difficult for online companies to provide, and impossible for websites to offer; face to face, personal service.

    By andrew brownrigg, Monday, October 29, 2012

  • Offer something extra

    Travel agents, like any other high street retailer, will only be able to compete with online services if they can offer something more than online services offer. And at the moment that is getting increasingly hard to do. Online sellers are available 24/7 and suffer none of the problems of access and parking that beset high street retailers. Even the immediacy of delivery that is a high street retailer's advantage does not apply in the case of travel services where there is no physical product. The reduction in commissions has meant that agents are having to consider charging for their services - and people are reluctant to pay extra for something they can get for free. High street agents do still have one advantage over online and that is the good old brochure. People still prefer to browse through a paper brochure and will usually find it quicker and easier to pick up their brochures from an agent than to order one online and wait. But that advantage is negated if all that an agent does is to act as a brochure distribution point. Principals do not pay agents to display their brochures; they pay them only when they take a booking. It is a fact (and has been a fact ever since I started in the industry 51 years ago) that most agents are quite happy to let customers walk into their offices and walk out with a handful of brochures. Anyone who walks into a travel agency is a potential customer - and it is the agent's job to turn that potential customer into a real customer. And there is a skill that exists to do this neat trick. It's called "Selling".

    By Richard English, Friday, October 26, 2012

  • mum was right!

    My good old mum once told me to always believe that I was a useful human being, and good old ABTA have come up with survey results which prove her right yet again! Well done Mum!

    By derek small, Thursday, October 25, 2012

  • Wow -a dramatic shift

    While I would love to see strong share gains from traditional travel agents, I would feel much more comfortable with these statistics if more details regarding the research methodology was provided. Such a drastic directional change, on the surface, appears to border on too much, too fast. Would hope the ABTA could dispel my skepticism.

    By Robert Cole, Thursday, October 25, 2012

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