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Travel Agents Optimistic Despite Volatile Economic NewsSeptember 1, 2011 By: George Dooley Travel Agent
Immediately following the U.S. debt downgrade and subsequent stock market volatility, VAX VacationAccess conducted a survey to gauge agent expectations for consumer travel plans with nearly 1,000 agent participants responding within 24 hours, VAX reports.
Survey participants represented a broad spectrum of agents across VAX, qualifying differences between home-based and brick and mortar agencies with 48 percent of respondents being home-based agents.
Reflecting their years of experience dealing with volatility in the travel industry since 9/11, the majority of travel agents (53 percent) are optimistic with regard to their immediate business outlook vs. 26 percent who are neutral and 22 percent who express pessimism, VAX said.
The overwhelming majority (86 percent) indicate that their customers still plan on booking but are just waiting for the dust to settle before confirming their trips. Agents identified a decline in unemployment level and stabilization of the stock market as the two primary signals most significant to their customers in terms of increasing their confidence about the economy.
“Some agents expressed it’s difficult to discern between the usual end of summer slowdown vs. a real trend,” said Rick Karnes, vice president of VAX VacationAccess. “These agents remain cautiously optimistic.”
Agents indicate their customers are guarded regarding new travel plans. In lieu of cancelling travel plans, over two-thirds of agents (71 percent) report that their clients are planning less expensive trips to optimize cost savings. Only one in ten agents stated they had more cancellations than usual in the two weeks prior to the survey, which was fielded August 11, 2011, VAX reports.