Travel professionals are optimistic about the future (for their own business as well as for the industry overall), reports Tom Cates, chief commercial officer of Amadeus North America. Cates announced the results of Amadeus' recent survey of 800 travel agents that examined how emerging trends are reshaping agents' business as the economy begins to recover.
“Travel agents are rolling with changes in the industry and with their clients, and they are ready for whatever becomes the ‘new normal’ in this evolving industry,” Cates said.
When asked how optimistic they were about the year ahead in terms of their own business, the vast majority (88 percent) of travel agents surveyed reported that they were optimistic or very optimistic, and almost a third (29.5 percent) said they were very optimistic. When asked how optimistic they were about the future growth of the overall travel industry, the vast majority (85.6 percent) were again optimistic or very optimistic.
The survey asked travel professionals about the impact of three significant trends— namely the rise of the “amateur-expert” traveler, the increasing role of technology throughout the trip experience, and the growth of specialty or niche travel.
“Amateur-expert” travelers are defined as frequent travelers who are more knowledgeable about their destination and what to expect when they get there. Respondent comments showed that travel agents welcome knowledgeable clients who have a better idea of what they want, but who also value and seek expert advice. More than half (50.5 percent) of travel professionals surveyed welcome and like to work with amateur-expert travelers as clients.
The second trend focuses on the increased role of technology throughout the journey, from the trip-planning phase through arrival back home. Travel professionals feel additional opportunity exists for technology to further improve the travel experience in areas including researching the trip (64.6 percent) and finding pricing/availability information (55.8 percent).
They also expect next generation travelers to get more “social.” Social networking (47.5 percent) tops the list of what travel agents feel will have the greatest impact on how tomorrow’s travelers research and book travel, followed by user-generated reviews (19.8 percent). Agents are responding to social media’s rise, with more than half (55.7 percent) indicating that they or their agencies are active in online social channels.
The third trend, the growth of niche travel, relates not only to the specialty travel focus of agents, but also selling other niche services which may present profitable opportunities. When it comes to the niche and specialty area of travel, professionals see major opportunities in family friendly travel (59.9 percent), weddings (47.6 percent), and adventure travel (36.8 percent). But agents see little or no promise in other areas such as selling travel goods (56.5 percent) or air charters (54.6 percent).
The majority of survey respondents described themselves as travel agency owner/managers(41.3 percent), travel agents (26 percent), home-based agents (23.6 percent) and independent consultants (9.3 percent). The respondents reported they focus primarily on leisure/destination travel (72.2 percent) and work in the U.S. (93.7 percent).
Cates said the survey is a continuation of Amadeus North America’s agent engagement approach that began in earnest in 2009. The effort continues this year with a new six-city road show series, “Need To Have 2010,” for North American travel professionals.
This interactive event gives travel professionals the opportunity to talk in person with Amadeus, while also providing an up-close look at the latest in travel technology solutions and services.
For further details or to RSVP for an upcoming Amadeus “Need To Have 2010” event, travel professionals should visit: http://tinyurl.com/amadeusroadshow2010
Agents can download a copy of the full survey results, visit www.amadeus.com.