The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) estimates that 11.1 percent of agencies are now using Twitter to promote their services which they didn’t do at all in 2008, according to ASTA’s new 2009 Technology and Web Usage Report. 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 Chairman Chris Russo.
Sponsored by Sabre, the study specifically looked at Internet usage, Web 2.0 marketing, and web site development from an agency point of view.
Among the findings:
* 75.2 percent of respondents indicated that they have a web site, a figure which has held rather steady over the past three years
* Webinars, Facebook and LinkedIn seem to be the area that most respondents are looking to upgrade or develop. Only 6.6 percent had LinkedIn profiles and 6.1 percent had Facebook pages in 2008 compared to the 29.5 and 28.7 percent in 2009
* 80.9 percent of ASTA agencies report that they have booked directly on a supplier’s web site without using their GDS or calling the supplier, up from 17.7 percent in 1999
* Most agencies use their web site to provide an e-mail link to their agency (86.5 percent) or to promote their areas of specialty (76.6 percent)
* The respondents that offer online booking tools stated that on average 7.5 percent of their revenue is directly booked on their web site, which is down from 2008, suggesting that the economic downturn had an effect on online booking
The ASTA Research Family is comprised of a representative sample of ASTA member travel agency owners and managers.