Hotel Online Special Report

Study Shows Leisure Travelers Stand by 
Their Travel Agents
SECAUCUS, N.J., April 6, 1999 -  When it comes to problem-solving, travel agents may be man's (and woman's) best friend, a study by the leading travel industry newspaper shows.

According to research conducted for Travel Weekly, nine out of ten loyal travel agency clients value their agents most for the help they give in solving travel problems and for evaluating travel alternatives. Agents also get high marks for their ability to locate the lowest price, but only seven out of 10 clients think price-shopping is the most valuable attribute of their agency.

Other sources for information and bookings, such as the Internet and travel companies' 800 numbers, get very low marks in comparison. For example, only a handful of clients use 800 numbers (5% and 2%, respectively) or the Internet (2% and 7%, respectively) when they need problems solved or want to research travel alternatives.

When it comes to price shopping, the Internet gets greater use, but with only 21 percent of leisure travelers versus 71 percent relying on agents for the best price.

This latest Travel Weekly study is the third in a series analyzing consumer attitudes toward travel agents. Specifically, researchers talked to "loyal" agency clients, defined as leisure travelers who tend to use one agent for at least some of their leisure trips.

Overall, customers expressed substantial satisfaction with their agents. The majority of clients have been using the same agent for more than 5 years, primarily for buying air tickets (61%) and for booking domestic (32%) or international packages (23%). In the past two years, one in five have used travel agents to make hotel reservations, one in six to book rental cars and one in eight to buy cruises.

In open-ended questioning, consumers said they are loyal to their travel agents because of:

  • Their agent's ability to get the best price (34%)
  • Their agent's convenient location (31%)
  • Their agent's personal relationship with the client (28%)
  • Their agent's general good service (24%)
Consumers also believe that their travel agents know them well. On a scale of one to ten, where 10 is complete understanding of clients' travel needs and 1 is complete ignorance, the majority (57%) scored their agencies at eight or better and one in four gave them a perfect 10.

The consumers surveyed say they take about four trips a year and use agents for more than one-third of those involving an overnight stay. Trips booked without the aid of an agent tend to be automobile trips or trips that are simple to arrange or do not require advance bookings.

Travel Weekly is published by Cahners Travel Group, which is part of Cahners Business Information, a leading provider of business information with 127 titles serving 18 markets, the largest U.S. publisher of business-to-business magazines. Cahners is a member of the Reed Elsevier plc group (NYSE: RUK; ENL).

Roxanne Branch 
of Travel Weekly, 
Also See: Travel Weekly Conference Predicts Major Changes in Travel Purchase Process / June 1998 
Taking Care of Travel Agents and Their Referrals / Kirby D. Payne, CHA

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