ASTA released the results of its 2008 Technology and Web Usage study, the only one of its kind that specifically looks at Internet usage, Web 2.0 marketing, and website development from an agency point of view. The study found that while agents are comfortable utilizing traditional forms of web marketing, there is still room for improvement when it comes to Web 2.0.
“Agents are very comfortable using the Internet for booking when they feel they can get the best product, but even though travel agents have used webinars and blogs more than any other Web 2.0 marketing technique, they are eager to learn more and take advantage of similar tools to reach an increasingly savvy traveler,” said ASTA President and CEO Chris Russo.
Among ASTA’s findings:
* 76.9 percent of respondents indicated that they have a website up, a figure which has held rather steady over the past three years.
* Podcasts, webinars, webcast or streaming video seems to be the area that most respondents are looking to upgrade, purchase or develop.
* 94 percent of ASTA agencies report that they have booked directly on a supplier’s website without using their GDS or calling the supplier, up from 17.7 percent in 1999.
* Airline bookings are the most likely to be booked online reflecting the “commoditization” of airline tickets. Travel agents continue to feel they need more direct contact to customize travel products such as cruises and tours.
* Most agencies use their website to provide an e-mail link to their agency (89.1 percent) or to promote their areas of specialty (81.7 percent).
* The respondents that offer online booking tools stated that, on average, 9.1 percent of their revenue is directly booked on their website.
The ASTA Research Family is comprised of a representative sample of ASTA member travel agency owners and managers. The report indicates a 95 percent confidence with an error rate +/- 4.3 percent. ASTA Premium Members will receive the full report for free and travel agent members will receive a free two-page summary, but can also purchase the entire report for $250. The cost for ASTA member suppliers is $350 and $550 for non-members.