Stats: 42% Say Insider Info Best Reason to Use a Travel Advisor, Says ASTA

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The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) has released a study tracking perception of the American traveler. This year’s wide-ranging study includes insights into the travel ecosystem, including emerging trends related to the use of “sharing economy” services, new daylight into the consumer travel planning and booking processes and changing consumer needs as travel agents transition to travel advisors.

Funded by Carnival Corporation & plc, this year's national study, “How America Travels,” reached 2,879 American Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers, including both consumers who did and did not use a travel advisor in the past 12 months. The results will help ASTA members better communicate their value proposition when marketing themselves to potential new and existing clients.

Key Findings

Travel Advisors Provide Destination Insider Insights, Custom Services: Consumers increasingly turn to travel advisors as sources of “insider” destination expertise and custom services, moving travel advisors’ role within consumers’ travel planning journey “upstream” away from the booking stage, and closer to travel planning and inspiration.

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While consumers turn to travel agents first and foremost to find the best deals on travel, those who have and those who have not used travel advisors view these professionals primarily as sources of expert destination insight and high levels of custom service.

Supporting statistics:

  • While finding the best deals is the top reason consumers gave for using travel agents (33 percent), expert/insider information on destinations is ranked as the top reason for using travel advisors (42 percent);
  • While 42 percent of consumers ranked expert/insider information on destinations as a main reason for using a travel advisor, only 20 percent listed insider knowledge of destination as a reason to use a travel agent;
  • Other top reasons for using a travel advisor among advisor users are providing high level of service (39 percent), having someone to assist if travel disruptions occur (35%) and booking an unfamiliar destination (32 percent);
  • Top reasons for travel advisor non-users to start using one include help booking unfamiliar destination (42 percent), expert/insider information on destinations (40 percent), access to hotels, airlines and cruises (33 percent) and upgrades and/or amenities (33 percent).

Data points contrasting travel advisor and agent users vs. non-users:

  • Travel agent users are twice as likely to splurge on airline tickets as non-users (16 percent vs. eight percent) and more than twice as likely to splurge on cruises (15 percent vs. six percent);
  • Travel agent users are more than twice as likely to extend business trips with leisure (“bleisure”) than non-users (62 percent vs. 27 percent) with an average of four and a half days added;
  • Travel agent users are more satisfied with frequency of vacations than non-users (68 percent vs. 45 percent);
  • Travel agent users are much more likely to use sharing economy services than non-users (56 percent vs. 34 percent).

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