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Agencies' Use of the WebMay 7, 2007 By: Dan Butcher Travel Agent
ASTA polled agencies to find out how their use of the Internet has evolved
The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) conducted two
surveys in 2006 that asked member agencies questions about their Internet
usage, technology usage and their agency's web site. The 26-page 2006 report
was compiled to help agencies evaluate their business practices in these areas.
The report includes benchmarking data on Internet sites, online booking rates
by travel segment, web site practices (designing, maintenance, updating), web
site features, and web site-generated business. Trends in usage are also
ASTA tallied up the responses, interpreted the data and
issued the following summary to all of its members (Premium Members received an
enhanced version of the report):
Gathering information and booking travel increasingly
involves the use of the Internet for both the public and travel agents. Over
the past decade, virtually all agents have begun using the Internet to conduct
research and/or book online. However, at this point Internet sales through
their own sites are not yet a major source of income for most ASTA agencies.
Agencies with a web site account for 76 percent of surveyed
agencies. This is up slightly from 2005, when 67 percent of agencies reported
having a web site.
Most agencies use their web sites to provide basic
information, such as e-mail links to staff at the agency and areas of
Just under half of all agencies provide links to travel
suppliers and another 46 percent provide online information request forms that
can be used to obtain travel information without visiting or calling the
Most survey respondents listed "an informational
vehicle for current clients" as the primary use of their web site.
The vast majority of agencies with Internet access are using
the Internet for researching topics such as client destinations, vendor
information and other general travel information.
Tours continue to be the number-one product booked online by
Nearly 78 percent of agencies that have booked online report
they have used airline web sites when making reservations compared to 64
percent in 2001. This percentage most likely will increase when this survey is
repeated due to the changing trends in booking patterns.
Travel suppliers across all modes of travel are providing
consumers and travel agents with fast and user-friendly web-based reservation
systems to book their products and some sites are exclusively oriented to
The percentage of online bookings compared to overall agency
bookings is becoming increasingly significant; however, for most agencies, it
is still a small percentage of all bookings.
The ASTA Research Family (those polled) is comprised of a
representative sample of ASTA member travel agency owners and managers. Percentage
of respondents who have booked directly on a supplier's web site
The reply level for the two surveys indicates an error rate
of +/- 4.6 percent representing the total ASTA agency membership. This is
considered to be a good error rate sample with very reliable results.
For more information on ASTA, visit www.astanet.com.