Agents Challenged By Changing Consumer Buying Habits


Less than one in four travelers uses a traditional travel agent according to a new study by Ypartnership.

Consumers today are autonomous, both by choice and necessity, said Peter Yesawich, chairman and CEO of the Ypartnership research firm. “They have become more insular with a closely-knit sphere of influence, and this is affecting how they both arrive at and make purchase decisions."

Family and friends are essentially tied with traditional media as the places they find ideas and inspiration for making travel plans, Dr. Yesawich says “Family and friends “win” as a trusted source for insights and advice. Then the Internet dominates as consumers move closer to making an actual purchase decision.”

Yesawich says the key sources of information for each phase in the travel decision-making “funnel” include:
“Ideas and inspiration: The American traveler casts a wide net when seeking ideas and inspiration for travel-related decisions, looking to family, friends, television, and a variety of printed media including magazines, guidebooks and brochures.”

“Advice and insight: The range of sources narrows. The personal recommendations of family and friends still top the list, and the Internet grows in influence. The impact of brochures and television drops, revealing their role primarily as awareness-building, not advice-providing.”

“Pricing and comparing: The Internet moves to the forefront, as travelers explore a variety of online resources. Online travel agencies such as Expedia or Travelocity are utilized by more than half of travelers for gathering pricing information (56 percent) and impartial comparisons (51 percent). Travel service suppliers’ websites (such as airline or hotel pages) are also sources for pricing (51 percent), but less so for comparisons (35 percent). Roughly one-third turn to online search engines (37 percent) or multi-brand online platforms like Amazon and (35 percent) and destination websites (34 percent) for pricing. However, only one out of four travelers uses destination websites for comparison shopping.”

“Purchasing: When it comes to purchasing the best deal, the funnel narrows to two main options – booking through an online travel agency (41 percent) or directly via a travel supplier’s own web site (38 percent). Less than one in four travelers uses traditional travel agents (23 percent) when booking, followed distantly by multi-brand websites (18 percent) and destination websites (17 percent).”

For further information and insights see the Ypartnership/Harrison Group 2011 Portrait of American Travelers and visit

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