Only 16% of Brits want to book face to face with an agent as online bookings dominate, according to HolidayExtras.com. Around 54% of holidaymakers book online and only 5% said they are influenced by an agent’s advice, compared to last year’s 12%. Past experience and own research proved top factors with 42% saying this was their biggest influence. Only 7% trusted friends’ recommendation and 6% looked at online forums for help. In response, ABTA spokesperson Frances Tuke told Travel Daily that the majority of high street agents had a multi-platform presence including the web and call centres. “Independent travel agents offer a value added service when it comes to expertise and customer service. These are attributes customers who were stranded abroad because of the ash cloud have been very grateful for, as there was somebody working on their behalf getting them another flight. Similarly when it comes to the BA strikes, they are the ones making sure that its customers will get to their destinations,” he said. “They offer the human element, which can be a lifeline if things go wrong, and someone to trust for tailored advice and service”. In terms of age demographic, 10% less of the 18-24 age group booked online compared to last year and 20% said they would book with a travel agent. “We urge this growing band of independent travellers to reconsider the benefits that agents can offer them,” said HolidayExtras.com Head of Partnerships David Stratton. Those aged 45-54 were most mistrustful and were more inclined to go on their own research.