2011 saw a very large increase in agencies providing mobile access to itineraries for their clients - from 20 percent in 2010 to 65 percent in 2011 - ASTA reports in its newly released 2011 Technology and Web Usage Report.
A substantial number of travel agents are also using elements of Web 2.0 to enhance their networking and marketing efforts, ASTA says, but primarily for promotion and brand-building rather than as a revenue or lead generator.
ASTA's report specifically looks at online booking revenue, Internet usage, Web 2.0 marketing and website development from the agency’s’ point of view. The survey also looks closely at how agencies use the Web for supplier research and booking.
Among other ASTA findings:
· The percentage of agencies that book directly on supplier websites peaked in 2007 (93 percent) and 2008 (94 percent) and has declined slightly since to 77 percent today.
· The percentage of agencies with a website plateaued in 2008 at between 75 percent and 78 percent. Today, it stands at 77 percent.
· The percentage of revenue agencies receive strictly from online tools remains at 7 percent.
· Approximately 66 percent of agencies use Web 2.0 techniques for networking and marketing.
· Awareness, promotion, and advertising are seen as the social media goals by about half of those agencies surveyed.
· Only 39 percent of agencies have CRM software. The largest technical issues facing agencies are keeping up with technology changes and justifying the return on technology investment, according to ASTA.
· 2011 saw a very large increase in agencies providing mobile access to itineraries for their clients from 20 percent in 2010 to 65 percent in 2011.
“Like everyone today, travel agents are under the gun to adapt to rapidly changing technology and incorporate it seamlessly into their businesses,” said ASTA CEO Tony Gonchar. “Keeping up with changing technology is costly and time-intensive, and most agencies don’t have the resources or personnel to do so."
"How agencies keep up with these changes will be a major issue going forward. ASTA is the only organization researching this subject and developing learning and training programs with the goal of assisting members with this exact challenge," Gonchar said.
The ASTA Research Family, which was used for this study, is comprised of a representative sample of ASTA member travel agency owners and managers. The report indicates a 95 percent confidence with an error rate +/- 4.8%, ASTA says.
Premium Members will receive a complimentary copy of the full report as part of their membership. Travel agent members may access a free two-page summary on ASTA.org, but can also purchase the entire report for $99. The cost for ASTA member suppliers is $349 and $549 for non-members.