We have talked a lot about the differences between brick-and-mortar travel agents and online travel agents, but this is the time to look up the numbers, to see the trends and opportunities. While more and more people go online to book their trips, these same trips become more complicated, more, let’s say, globetrotting, hence sometimes expertise is needed. So, let’s take a look at the numbers, shall we?
1. According to Facebook IQ1, 51% of people traveling for leisure research their flights for less than a week (in the US at least). This should tell you that people don’t want to spend too much time researching flights and looking for better deals. But there ARE better deals to be made and this here is an opportunity that travel agents (whether online or brick-and-mortar) can make the best of.
2. Facebook IQ also says that 55% of travelers evaluate their flights online, but 90% purchase their flights online. This discrepancy makes it difficult to properly assess the numbers, but it seems that there is space here for travel agents to communicate their offers better in order to help more people evaluate their flights (even before purchasing). This means to present themselves as the experts they already are. This is difficult to do and probably against the trend, but it is an opportunity.
3. It seems counterintuitive, but, according to TrekkSoft 2019, direct online bookings fell (in percentage) between the years 2017 and 2018 from 79.2% to 66.7%, while agents and affiliates went up from 17,5% to 24,3%. Agents and affiliates include of course both online and brick-and-mortar travel agents, but these stats tell us that people need guidance, that the world is big and they want experts to tell them if their choices are good.
4. According to PhocusWright, 53% of people who use their mobile phones to book a trip do so a week before the trip at most. 38% wait until the metaphorical last minute (last couple of days). So, cellphones are good for spontaneous traveling. But there is a large percentage of people who like to do their research, book in advance and use methods that are better suited for gathering information than a cellphone; and travel agents can focus on these people.
5. Family travel is booming, according to Conde Nast Traveller.1 Freelancing and homeschooling make the family schedule more flexible, but this doesn’t mean that families have time to organize everything. And who can help them choose their travel destination and book flights and hotels? You guessed right: an experienced travel agent!