Travel brands and PR agencies will never issue the results of a study without some spin attached – but now it appears even an organisation as respected as ABTA is at it, too.
The travel agent group has released the findings of its 2012 Consumer Travel Trends Survey, after talking to just over 2,000 Brits about their travel booking habits. The study was carried out online by Arkenford.
The headline is that travel agents (its members) are “more valued and more used” than ever after ABTA discovered a leap from 30% in 2011 to 40% in 2012 to the question of whether people “value the services a travel agent offers”.
Those without an opinion fell from 50% in 2011 to 41% in 2012. Those that disagreed fell 1% to 20% over the same period.
“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,” says ABTA.
The organisation also says youngsters are now the biggest fans of travel agents, with 45% of 15-24 year olds valuing the services of agents compared to 30% in 2011.
The study also found that four out of ten 15-44 year olds in 2012 preferred the “reassurance of dealing with someone face-to-face when booking”. This was an increase from around 25% last year.
This is apparently the “digital generation” needing “guidance and help with the bewildering choice available on the internet”.
Top ABTA PR wonk, Victoria Bacon, says:
“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.”
Whether the questions (certainly the “I value the services a travel agent offers” didn’t state the option of online as an alternative) can be translated into the conclusions given above is a matter for debate.
What would be more valuable is discovering what types of trips people are booking or advice they are seeking through their visits to agents.
If there is a increase in the number of bucket and spade trips, then that might certainly be a surprise to some and worth noting, but any kind of growth in cruise, ski or other specialist activity holiday queries is perhaps to be expected?
Nevertheless, another headline could easily have read: “Still less than half of travellers value a travel agent and 60% either have no opinion or disagree”.
Also, worth pondering if 40% say they value travel agents then why are only 27% of travellers then booking through the offline channel?
NB: We have requested the full suite of questions in the report from ABTA.
UPDATE: ABTA will not release the full research report, saves it for PR activity during the coming months.
NB2: Study image via Shutterstock.