Travel agents need to work harder to build customer relationships and offer a better experience to customers, according to new research released by ABTA today.
In the association’s latest consumer study, only 23.2% of those surveyed said they think travel professionals know what they want, while only 25.3% think they have a better holiday if it’s booked through an agent.
The younger generation were more impressed with travel agents’ expertise than other age groups but with only 44% of the 16-24 year-old market valuing the knowledge of an agent, it appears more needs to be done to showcase the service travel agents can offer.
The three top booking essentials were safe and secure accommodation, financial protection and ATOL protection, with knowledge of staff featuring in sixth position.
“There are opportunities for travel agents to improve their customer relationship management,” said Victoria Bacon, head of communications at ABTA on the research. “Goodwill towards travel professionals is particularly strong amongst young consumers to it is important travel businesses build on this, as these customers mature.”
Six in 10 Brits have booked a holiday with a travel agent or tour operator in the last 12 months, with 49% booked online.
One in five (19%) are said to have booked on the high street; 23% organised with a travel agent online and one in five (20%) went direct to the operator.
Laptop and PC use for booking remains the favourite device (96%) while 11% of those who book through a device use a mobile and 9% through a tablet.
Talking about my generation: the booking gap
16-24 year-olds: 66% of young Brits travelled with parents in the last 12 months, with 24% booking at least one overseas holiday with a travel agent. This age group saw the biggest year-on-year drop in the number of holidays taken, perhaps impacted by the unemployment rates or low income.
35-54: This age group has taken the least number of holidays in the last year. Those with children took more holidays than the average.
Baby boomers: Those aged 55+ have seen the biggest rise in the number of holidays taken and are increasingly booking direct with tour operators, up 28% from 23% last year.